Cushion Review: Organize Your “Pay Later” Payments and Build Credit

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Cushion is a financial management platform that offers several services. The most notable of these are the ability to organize all your “buy now, pay later” payments in one place and credit building tools that can help increase your credit score over time. 

In this Cushion review, we’ll examine the key details of how Cushion builds credit and assess the pros and cons of its credit building features.


Cushion helps you organize your bills and BNPL payments, track bank fees and build credit. The free plan only offers the bill organization and fee tracking features. The $4.99 per month “BNPL Builder” plan gives you a calendar view of your upcoming BNPL payments (Affirm, Klarna, Afterpay, and more) and offers credit building by reporting on-time BNPL payments to Experian. The $12.99 per month “Pro” plan also reports on-time payments for all bills, including subscription payments, like Netflix and Spotify, to Experian. Cushion’s credit builder products work by providing users with a line of credit, which is used to make payments on their behalf. After a payment is made, Cushion withdraws the payment amount from the member’s linked bank account or debit card.

The fees for Cushion's credit builder products are some of the lowest among competing options. If you think you would benefit from a credit builder loan, the service is worth looking into. However, it’s important to have a long-term plan in place for building a positive credit history without these types of loans.

  • Low monthly fee for the credit-building features.
  • Helps you build credit without taking on debt.
  • Reports 0% credit utilization when enough funds are available.
  • Offers limited free tools compared to competing alternatives.
  • Only reports to Experian, not Equifax and TransUnion.
  • Your credit history length can be negatively impacted if you close your Cushion account.

Eight Things to Know About Cushion Before Signing Up

  1. The Cushion card is effectively a debit card, not a credit card. Therefore, Cushion does not pull your credit report prior to issuing it.
  2. You’ll need to upgrade to a paid account to access the features that can help build your credit, and which allow you to organize your BNPL payments.
  3. There are two paid account tiers. The BNPL Builder account is $4.99 per month and allows you to manage, pay, and build credit using your existing “buy now, pay later” loans. For $12.99 per month, the Pro account will enable you to build credit through both BNPL payments and other bills including subscription payments (like Netflix, Spotify and many other popular providers). 
  4. Some BNPL companies already report to credit bureaus for interest-bearing loans. Therefore, if you plan to use Cushion to build credit, ensure that your BNPL payments are not already being reported. (You can use CreditKarma to see your credit report for free.) 
  5. While Cushion connects to your bank accounts using Plaid, it connects to your BNPL accounts by accessing your email and scanning your inbox for transactions. Currently, you can only connect Gmail and Yahoo accounts. 
  6. When you sign up for a paid account, Cushion issues you a virtual card and a line of credit in your name. That line of credit gets reported to Experian. When you pay your bills on time through your Cushion virtual card, Cushion will report a 0% utilization rate, which can positively impact your score. 
  7. If you don’t have the necessary funds in your checking account to pay a bill, Cushion will deny the transaction. Cushion doesn’t charge fees in this scenario. 
  8. You don’t have to use the Cushion card to pay all your monthly bills. Instead, you can choose among the various bills you have and select just one of them to pay using the card. It could be something as small as $6.99 with Netflix. By doing this, you ensure that there’s always enough money in your account to pay that specific bill and you’ll still have 0% credit utilization reported to Experian. 

How Cushion Works

Cushion was originally an AI-powered tool that helped negotiate bank fees, hence the “ai” in its website address. However, it now primarily offers a way to organize BNPL payments paired with credit building services. 

Nevertheless, some of its old bank fee tracking features are still accessible under the free plan — just not the ability to negotiate those fees on your behalf. 

Here’s a breakdown of what you can expect to get with each plan.

Cushion Free Plan

When you sign up for Cushion, you’ll be able to sync your bank account and credit cards to get access to a dashboard that allows you to see a cash flow projection. 

After signing up for Cushion, here's the dashboard I see under the free plan. I didn't sync my bank balance, just credit cards.
After signing up for Cushion, here’s the dashboard I see under the free plan. I didn’t sync my bank balance, just some of my credit cards.
  • Cash Available. This is the total amount of money you have in your checking and savings accounts.
  • Cash After Debt. This is the remaining cash in your checking and savings accounts after you have paid your credit card debt.
  • Net Cash. This is the amount of cash you have left over after you have paid all your bills and other expenses, including any credit card debt, any “buy now, pay later” loans, and any other outstanding payments. This is calculated by subtracting the total amount of money you owe from the total amount of money you have in your checking and savings account.

You’ll also get access to a tool that will track and notify you of any banking fees (which you can ideally negotiate away if you see them). 

After signing up for Cushion, I could track the amount of banking fees I pay each year, including annual credit card fees.
After signing up for Cushion, I could track the amount of banking fees I pay each year, including annual credit card fees.

Cushion BNPL Builder Plan

The Cushion BNPL Builder plan costs $4.99 per month and offers a convenient calendar view of all your upcoming payments. It works with companies like Klarna, Affirm, Afterpay, Sezzle and Zip. 

To start using the plan’s credit-building feature, you have to sign up for the Cushion virtual card. 

You don’t need to deposit any funds into this account, as it’s only a virtual card. Instead, you link your Cushion card to your checking account and then change the payment details in your BNPL apps so that your Cushion card gets charged instead of your checking account’s debit card.

Why does this impact your credit score? 

Behind the scenes, Cushion offers you a line of credit, which enables you to build credit.

Cushion makes payments for your BNPL loans from that line of credit, and then withdraws the payment amount from your checking account. 

This line of credit is only reported to Experian, not Transunion and Equifax. 

The effect this has on your credit score will depend on your credit history. However, Cushion will make sure to pay on time every month and report a positive payment history to Experian. 

If you make payments with available funds and have enough money in your account to cover the bills, your credit utilization will show as zero. If you don’t, there’s not necessarily a negative impact on your credit score from Cushion, because all you have from Cushion is a line of credit. 

However, you still need to make the necessary payment directly to the provider. If not, you will indeed have a negative mark on your credit report as a result of missing a payment.

Cushion doesn’t disclose the exact amount of the line of credit, but they do mention that with a more positive history, the credit line can increase.

Cushion Pro Plan

For $12.99 per month, Cushion offers the ability to build your credit history by paying not only BNPL loans, but also bill and subscription payments like Netflix, Spotify, and even your utility provider. Cushion states that if the provider accepts debit cards, they can pay on your behalf. 

Moreover, the Cushion Pro Plan integrates your bills, and BNPL plans with your preferred personal calendar, such as Google Calendar.

As explained in the “Cushion BNPL Builder” section above, Cushion will issue a line of credit in your name and use it to pay your bills. It will then report a positive payment history to Experian, but with the added benefit that you don’t need to have outstanding amounts owed to a BNPL company to benefit from the service.

It’s important to make a careful decision regarding which bills you should pay by using Cushion.

Cushion provides you with a line of credit that can increase as you use it to pay more bills and maintain a good track record of timely payments. This higher line of credit can have a positive impact on your credit score. 

However, you’ll want to ensure that you have enough cash in your account to cover the bills that Cushion will pay. 

Therefore, if you’re living paycheck to paycheck and struggling to manage your bills, we recommend that you choose just one or two smaller bills to pay with Cushion. 

On the other hand, if you have extra funds to pay off your bills throughout the month and are aiming to increase your credit score aggressively, you can choose to pay off a larger number of bills with Cushion, with the hopes that your credit line will increase faster. 

Cushion Alternatives

Credit builder loans like the ones offered by Cushion can be helpful for those who have a poor credit history and need to increase their credit score quickly. However, remember that they usually require fees to maintain the credit line, making them a short-term solution. 

Before opting for a credit builder loan, it’s important to assess whether you really need it. 

My preference for those who don’t have a big purchase coming up and don’t necessarily need the immediate boost a credit builder-type product can provide is to look into whether they qualify for an unsecured credit card. (See our list of good starter credit cards here.)

And if you don’t qualify for an unsecured credit card, a secured card from a reputable bank can be a good option. This way, you can eventually upgrade to an unsecured credit card while keeping your credit history intact. 

If you’re in a hurry to boost your credit score, a combination of a secured credit card and a credit builder loan could be a viable option. 

Some of the better products we’ve found in the space, as well as how they differ from Cushion, include:

  • Self provides credit-building loans as well as a secured credit card that can eventually become an unsecured card. The cost of Self’s credit building loans ranges from $25 to $150 per month for a period of 24 months. At the end of the term, you get back the money you paid, except for the interest and fees. Self’s secured credit card differs from a traditional one in that it requires opening a credit builder account. See our Self Review to learn more. 
  • Extra is a credit card alternative that offers an automatic payment system. Your balance is paid off 24 hours after purchase, and the system monitors your bank account balance to ensure that you only spend what you can afford. This way, you won’t have to worry about interest or late fees. Additionally, Extra reports your total spending to Experian and Equifax at the end of the month, which could help you improve your credit score. If you have difficulty controlling your spending or haven’t yet established credit, Extra is a great option since you can only make purchases that you can pay off. See our Extra Debit Card review to learn more. 

When Does Cushion Make Sense?

Cushion’s fees are low compared to the monthly fees charged by other credit builder services, but the company only reports to Experian, while most of its competitors report to all the major credit reporting agencies.

If you have a larger purchase coming up do your research first to see if the provider pulls from Experian; it’s the most commonly-used credit agency, and companies like Chase and American Express regularly pull from it — but not all do. 

If you’re constantly juggling BNPL payments, Cushion can also make a lot of sense, as their organization can ensure you don’t miss any of those due dates.

If you don’t have a larger purchase coming up, there are better alternatives out there to improve your credit score than paying for a credit builder product. 

Aside from the cost, your credit history’s length will be negatively affected when you close a credit-builder account, so it’s best to start with a secured card with the option to upgrade to a non-secured card. 

This way, you’re not stuck paying a monthly fee just to maintain a positive credit history.

Disclaimer: Many factors are involved in your credit score, making the experience and result unique for each individual. Cushion does not guarantee and cannot predict that your credit score will improve by a specific amount, percentage, or at all within a specific period of time or by using Cushion. Credit building is one of several premium features included in Cushion’s paid subscription

R.J. Weiss
R.J. Weiss, founder of The Ways To Wealth, has been a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ since 2010. Holding a B.A. in finance and having completed the CFP® certification curriculum at The American College, R.J. combines formal education with a deep commitment to providing unbiased financial insights. Recognized as a trusted authority in the financial realm, his expertise is highlighted in major publications like Business Insider, New York Times, and Forbes.

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