Kristen’s move from New Jersey to Florida got her away from what originally pulled her into addiction at 16 and kept her there for years.
But as Kristen will tell you, it takes a village. Before she could ever afford to move out of state, Kristen’s mother and grandma had to bail her out of jail multiple times. Her mom once sold her home to cover the cost of her bail.
“She’s the most amazing mom out there,” Kristen shared.
Kristen (right) with her mom (center) and two of her sisters, Taryn and Erin.
And now that Kristen is nine years sober and has achieved financial independence, she can help her mom, who is sick, with her bills. “I’m actually able to be there for my family instead of taking from them, like I used to. It’s just rewarding,” she said.
Second chance banking
Kristen owes her recovery and success to more than just the second chances from her mother. Addiction had genuine financial implications for Kristen that were difficult to overcome on her own.
“When I was in addiction … I would go to bank accounts, open bank accounts, would overdraft, and not pay them back,” she explained. Over time, that caught up with her, and as she got clean, she struggled to convince banks to take another chance on her.
Enter Chime. “Back when I did open Chime, I couldn’t open anything else,” Kristen explained. “Chime helped me get that sense of security back where I didn’t have to carry cash around all the time.”
Chime offers second chance banking for people who have struggled with their accounts in the past. No credit check and no monthly fees to navigate as you get back on your feet — and signing up only takes a couple of minutes. We understand that everyone has a past; we give our members the tools to build a better financial future.
“I think Chime is awesome. I really do. They’ve always had my back, even with the [fee-free] overdraft.1 That’s amazing in itself.”
Achieving home ownership in Florida was an essential part of Kristen’s recovery. But it wasn’t easy.
Kristen says she saved every single penny for six months just to come up with a down payment. And while she deserves major kudos for her diligence, she also admits that her family made it all possible. Her uncle helped her buy the house, and her mom let Kristen move in for four months while she saved up. “I definitely got lucky that I have a great family.”
Building her savings was just one part of the equation. Following her history of delinquent accounts, Kristen had to work hard to repair her credit score. It took Kristen half a year to pay off her credit card debt, and she had to resist the temptation to swipe her card for even longer to keep her credit utilization low.
Kristen posing in front of her new home.
And while repairing her credit score made it easier to buy a house, her score took another hit immediately after moving in. “When I bought my house, my credit score dropped drastically because [of] all that debt you now have,” Kristen explained. “When I got that Credit Builder card, my score went up like 40-something points. And then I was able to pay off my credit cards.”
Kristen’s not alone. On average, members see a 30-point increase2 in their credit scores by using the Chime Credit Builder Secured Visa® Credit Card. We report to all three major credit bureaus, and there’s no annual fee, no interest,³ no credit check to apply, and no minimum security deposit.4 We like to think of it as a new – and easier – way to build credit.
At first, Kristen wasn’t sold on the card; a 30-point increase sounded too good to be true. “I was kind of iffy about that card because everybody was saying it makes your score go up. But it really does.”