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Does Experian Boost Improve Your Credit Score?

Experian Boost adds cell phone, utility and streaming service payments to consumer credit reports.

A mother is holding a credit card while her daughter scrolls on a laptop sitting on the ground.
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Building credit from scratch can feel like a Catch-22 because lenders are reluctant to extend a line of credit to you if you don't have any experience to date. But in an attempt to help people with thin credit files, Experian -- a major credit bureau -- created a free service that allows you to add additional data to your credit file to improve your credit score

What is Experian Boost?

Payment history is the most influential factor that makes up your FICO score, accounting for 35% of your credit score. Experian Boost allows you to add positive payment history to your credit report by linking utility bills, phone bills and even payments to streaming services. Users must have at least one active credit account, such as a credit card or personal loan, to sign up. Bills and streaming services that are compatible with Experian Boost include the following:

  • Mobile and landline phones
  • Internet
  • Cable and satellite 
  • Gas and electricity
  • Water
  • Power and solar
  • Trash
  • Netflix, HBO, Hulu and Disney+

How does Experian Boost work?

Experian Boost is a free service that only requires an online account to sign-up via the Experian web page or mobile app. You will then be prompted to link the bank account you use to pay your bills. From there, your account will be scanned for on-time utility, cellphone and streaming payments from the last 24 months. Experian Boost only reports positive information, so late payments won't be reported. Still, you should always prioritize making on-time payments. Additionally, you need a minimum of three months of payments within a six-month period for Experian Boost to work. 

Is Experian Boost secure?

Experian Boost is only authorized to view read-only data from your bank accounts. Experian does not have access to any financial funds and will not report any negative credit score data. Experian securely accesses the user's bank statement data to identify valid payments made to utility and telecom companies but does not store any personal banking information. 

Does Experian Boost improve your credit score?

Since Experian Boost only considers positive payment history when assessing a consumer's credit score, you may see a slight improvement in your FICO credit score. Once you link your checking or savings account, Experian Boost will analyze your transaction history and add on-time payments to your Experian credit file within minutes. The average credit score increase is 10 to 13 points, although results may vary. You're more likely to benefit from Experian Boost if you have a thin credit file or a credit score below 670 and you're looking to build up your credit score with recurring monthly bills.

Downsides of Experian Boost

While Experian Boost may help improve your credit score, there are some downsides to keep in mind, such as:

  • If you pay your bills with a rewards credit card to maximize your earning potential each month, Experian Boost may be less beneficial to you. Your credit history already factors in on-time payments from your credit card accounts, so this will only do you little good. Experian Boosts works best for individuals who don't quite have an established credit history, so they most likely aren't paying their internet or water bill with a credit card.
  • Experian Boost only affects FICO 8 scores based on Experian data. Lenders who use a different scoring model or data from another credit bureau won't see your boosted score. Additionally, adding your utility payments to Experian's records does not carry over to the other two major credit bureaus – Equifax and TransUnion.
  • Experian Boost does not pull rent payments. While it is possible to add rent payments to your credit report with services like Experian RentBureau, only utility, cell phone and streaming service payments apply for now. 

Other ways to improve your credit score

If you have limited to no credit, there are a few other strategies to keep in mind:

Become an authorized user 

Becoming a primary cardholder can be tricky if you have a thin credit file. But you can reap the same benefits by piggybacking on someone else's credit card as an authorized user. As an authorized user, you'll receive your own credit card, but any purchases you make become part of the primary cardholder's balance. Not all issuers report authorized user data to the three credit bureaus, so check whether or not this is the case before moving forward. 

Apply for a secured credit card

Secured credit cards are like standard credit cards with a revolving line of credit, but they are backed by a cash deposit. The deposit typically equals the credit limit, which equals 50% to 100% of the initial deposit. If your cash deposit is $500, for example, your credit line equals $500. Generally, after 12 months of consistent on-time payments, your credit card issuer may automatically upgrade you to an unsecured credit card

The bottom line

Based on the current options available to consumers with thin credit files, Experian Boost can be a valuable tool, but it's not the only one. By creating a free account and allowing Experian access to scan your bank account for on-time utility, phone and streaming service payments, you're adding just a tiny boost to your credit score – albeit better than nothing. Still, it is up to the consumer to determine whether the benefits of joining the program outweigh any potential negatives.

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