Here's How Experian Boost Really Works

How Experian Boost works

Experian Boost allows you to include your on-time payment history for utility and mobile phone services. Eligible payments in your name include ones for internet service, cable or satellite television, heating, electricity, and water. This payment information is included in the “payment history” portion of your credit score , which makes up 35% of your FICO® score — more than any other factor.

Thankfully, there’s no charge to use Experian Boost, and it only uses your on-time payment history. So if you’ve made a late payment to a utility company or a mobile phone company, it won’t be held against you.

In contrast, your FICO® Score is otherwise made up of accounts with lenders that appear in your credit history, including both your on-time and late payments.

When you sign up for Experian Boost, you must allow Experian to view your bank account transactions and check for eligible on-time utility and phone service payments. To work, the Experian Boost service needs to see three months of payments during a six-month timeframe. Experian Boost will then show you what bills it found that qualify, and you’ll have the ability to exclude any payments that you don’t want to be considered.

Also note that Experian can just see data from your bank, so it won’t have any ability to withdraw funds or do anything else.

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Can Experian Boost Hurt Your Credit Score?

Late payments usually hurt your credit score, but that isn’t how Experian Boost™ works. 

👉 Experian only considers positive payment history. That means if you missed your utility payment, rent, or cell phone payment, the late payments won’t bring down your credit score. 

How Boost Affected Me I signed up for Experian Boost with the understanding it can only help your credit score, not hurt it.  What I found was that may be true for your score but that may not be the case when applying for a loan. Here’s how it shows up on my credit report. So here’s what happened: I refinanced my mortgage, and my broker said the utilities I had reported on Boost showed up on my credit report as“self-reported debts.” That created the impression that I had more monthly debt payments than I actually did. Luckily, the amount was too small to seriously affect my debt-to-income ratio. It is something you should be aware of if you’re going to be applying for a mortgage or any other loan where they look at your debt or debt-to-income ratio.  

Pros Cons

Experian Boost can be an effective way to help your credit. That doesn’t mean it’s the right move for everyone.

Pros

  • It’s free.
  • Adding more positive information to your Experian credit report can have a very positive impact if your credit report has very few accounts.
  • Experian claims the average credit score improvement is 14 points. That could make a big difference for some people, especially if you cross over one of the major score thresholds from “poor” to “fair”, and from “fair” to “good”.
  • If you have late payments, it won’t hurt your credit score since Experian doesn’t know about your late payments. Since they won’t be included in your credit report they can’t affect your credit score.

Cons

  • You have to give Experian access to your online checking account.  This is a non-starter for some people who are concerned about the security of their checking account. 
  • You have to pay all of your utility bills from your online checking account.  This is the only way Experian Boost can scan your checking account to look to payments to utility companies.  This means you can’t use a credit card to pay your bill and earn reward points. 
  • It only works for people who already have a credit file.  
  • Because Experian Boost only reports positive payments, some lenders may not use these accounts when they calculate your credit score. 
  • Experian Boost only helps your Experian score.  It won’t help your scores at the two other major credit bureaus, TransUnion and Equifax.

Experian Boost works best for people with thin credit files. If you have 20 years of payment history, have owned multiple credit cards, and had a car loan and home loan, adding proof of utility payments will not have the impact that it would have for someone with a thin credit file. 

My third Experian Boost

I’m not a Boost addict, I swear. This time, I’ve done it for you, dear reader. Before I started writing this article, I decided to boost again because I had some data to add. I was paying for the Internet with a card I hadn’t connected yet. Plus Experian now lets you report your Netflix payments.

Boosting my FICO score while binging Bridgerton? Yes, please.

So I’ve boosted again. This time, I’ve added all of my credit card accounts, just to be sure every eligible payment will count toward my score. I didn’t expect much, but I wanted to get the most out of the service.

My score has increased by 13 points, taking my score to the next credit tier—from “fair” to “good”.

Now my FICO score is at 680, and in total, Experian Boost has raised my score by 22 points. It’s less of a boost than other users report. But without it, it could take me another year to reach good credit. Now that years of fair credit are officially behind me, I may qualify for some of the most exciting credit cards (I’m looking at you, Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card), and I’m considering refinancing my car loan.

Pros and cons of Experian Boost

Experian Boost is worth signing up for if you’re looking for an easy way to boost your credit score. However, the service has limitations, so you shouldn’t expect any miracles.

Let’s take a look at the advantages and disadvantages of Experian Boost.

Advantages of Experian Boost

Experian Boost has three main benefits:

  • Zero cost: There are other companies (like LevelCredit, for example) that offer similar services that add your regular monthly payments to your credit report, but most of them cost money. In contrast, Experian Boost is free.
  • Immediate score improvement: Unlike most other methods for building your credit, Experian Boost instantly updates your credit report, giving you an immediate increase in your credit score after you’ve registered. 7 This can help you qualify for credit and loans with more favorable terms, such as lower interest rates.
  • No risk: Signing up for Experian Boost won’t cause a drop in your credit score, even if you’ve missed bills in the past. This is because Experian only adds on-time payments to your credit report.

Downsides of Experian Boost

Experian Boost has several drawbacks:

  • Less effective if you have good credit: If you already have a solid payment history and a good credit score, Experian Boost isn’t going to have a substantial effect on your credit. According to Experian, a full 21% of people with poor credit who have used the service were able to boost their FICO score into the “fair” range, but only 3% of people with “good” credit saw their score move into the “very good” range. 6
  • Doesn’t affect your Equifax or TransUnion credit scores: As mentioned, Experian Boost only adds your payments to your Experian credit report. This means that your TransUnion and Equifax credit scores won’t increase when you sign up.

Is Experian Boost safe to use?

Whether Experian Boost will actually help your credit may vary. Even if it doesn't help you, however, Experian Boost will not hurt your credit score.

For one thing, Experian Boost looks at your banking data, not your credit history. This means there is no credit inquiry. Plus, Experian Boost only includes on-time payments, which add positive payment history. So, that bill you paid three days late last year won't be included.

That being said, it's important to keep in mind that failing to pay your utility or other bills can hurt your credit score. But that would happen whether you use Experian Boost or not.

If you fall behind by more than 60 days, your provider can report your account as delinquent to the credit bureaus. Payment history is 35% of your FICO® Score. As such, late payments can severely damage your credit. Additionally, negative items, like late payments, can stay on your credit reports for up to seven years.

Advantages

Experian Boost is ultimately a no-risk way to try to improve your credit score. It can do that thanks to its many pro-consumer features.

  1. Free to Sign Up and Use. It’s free to create an account with Experian and use Experian Boost. You won’t pay a dime out of pocket for this service as long as your account remains open — period.
  2. Complimentary Access to Your Experian Credit Report and FICO Score. Experian Boost users get complimentary access to their Experian credit files — the raw information used to compile their FICO Scores — and their FICO scores themselves. Credit Karma, the top U.S. provider of free credit monitoring services, doesn’t offer direct access to Experian files or scores, leaving its users in the dark as to what lenders see when they pull their Experian credit reports.
  3. Get Credit for the Bill Payments of Your Choice. Experian Boost gives you credit for the phone and utility bill payments of your choice. If you make these payments on time and in full, and you’ve been doing so for many months or years, there’s a good chance your Experian-generated FICO Score will rise once Experian incorporates them into your credit score.
  4. You Can Remove Boost if You Don’t Like the Results. Experian Boost isn’t guaranteed to raise your credit score and could potentially do the opposite. However, because you can remove Boost at any time if you don’t like its results, it should never have a permanent negative impact on your credit score. You can reapply to Boost at any time without cost or penalty.
  5. The Average User Sees a Notable Credit Score Boost. According to Experian, Experian Boost users who saw their credit scores increase with Experian Boost experienced a 13-point increase on average. While results aren’t guaranteed and many creditors don’t use Experian-generated scores, this is nevertheless a useful benchmark for consumers considering Experian Boost.

Will Lenders Use My Experian Boost Score?

Helping consumers raise their credit scores so they can obtain credit when they need it is one of the main reasons Experian Boost was created. Experian Boost impacts multiple credit scoring models, so as long as your lender utilizes the most common versions of the FICO® Score and VantageScore®, they will see your boosted credit scores when they request your credit report from Experian.

You may even find lenders who recommend Experian Boost when you’re getting ready to apply for a loan. For example, home equity lending specialist Spring EQ says Experian Boost has become a staple in their lending process and something they recommend to applicants when they believe it can make a difference in granting them a loan with lower interest rates and fees.

Make sure to keep your accounts connected when applying for new credit so lenders can see your boosted credit scores on your Experian report. If you disconnect your bank accounts from Experian Boost, your credit scores will be calculated without that additional information.

Cons of Experian Boost

  • The effectiveness of the boost to your score will only be relevant if the lender gets its information from Experian. It won’t feature on your Equifax or TransUnion scores
  • It’s unclear how lenders will choose to use the information provided by Experian Boost, particularly at a time when many are tightening their lending criteria
  • It won’t be beneficial to everyone, with certain people unlikely to get any uplift in their credit score from using the service
  • Only available to Experian customers

What Is Experian Boost™

On-time payment history is the most important factor in your credit score accounting for 35% of your total credit score, followed by credit utilization which makes up 30% of your credit score. This product allows consumers to add additional on-time payments to their Experian credit report by linking their bank account. Additional on-time payment history can help increase your credit score.

Using Experian Boost to boost your credit scores isn’t complicated. The first thing you’ll need to do is connect the account that you use to pay your qualifying utility, cell phone and video streaming service payments. After connecting the bank account, users can choose which positive payment histories from these services to add to their Experian credit report.  If applicable, you may see the results of Experian Boost instantly.

Those most likely to benefit have “thin” credit histories, meaning they don’t have many credit accounts to report on-time payments to their credit report. According to Experian’s website, average users who received a boost improved their FICO Score based on Experian Data by 13 points. Remember that results may vary, and are dependent on factors like your existing credit profile.

Read More: What Is a Good Credit Score?

FAQs

  • Yes, Experian Boost is safe to use. Boost only adds on-time payments to your credit report, so it cannot hurt your credit score.

  • How well Experian Boost works will depend on your existing credit history. If you have little or no credit history, you could see a large impact from Boost. However, if you already have good credit, you will likely see much smaller — if any — impact.

  • The best way to improve your credit scores is to use credit responsibly. This means making all of your debt payments on time and keeping your credit card balances low. A simple method to establish and build credit is with a credit card. Use the credit card to pay a small monthly bill, such as a streaming service. Then, set up automatic payments through your bank so your credit card is paid in full and on time every month. This will build your positive payment history. Choose a credit card with no annual fee. If you can't qualify for an unsecured card, try a secured credit card.

Final Word

Experian Boost is a useful little product that can meaningfully raise your Experian-generated FICO 8 score, potentially increasing your chances of credit approval (or more favorable rates and terms) on your next loan or credit line application.

Timely phone payments and on-time utility payments from your checking account or savings account can increase your credit score with no secured credit card required.

Better yet, Boost is free and secure, and you can remove it at any time if you don’t like what it does to your credit score. With so little to lose, what’s the downside in taking Boost for a spin?

*Results may vary. Some may not see improved scores or approval odds. Not all lenders use Experian credit files, and not all lenders use scores impacted by Experian Boost.

^Credit score calculated based on FICO® Score 8 model. Your lender or insurer may use a different FICO® Score than FICO® Score 8, or another type of credit score altogether. Learn more.

How Do You Sign Up for Experian Boost?

It’s easy to sign up for Experian Boost. You can get started online or via the mobile app by enrolling in the Experian CreditWorks℠ Basic membership program. There’s no cost to create an account, and you’ll need to provide your first and last name, current address, email address, and password you’d like to use to access the dashboard.

Once your account is open, you’ll be asked to connect your bank account(s). Experian will analyze transactions to identify qualifying payments you can use. You will be asked to confirm these accounts before moving forward and can disconnect your account(s) at any time if you want to stop using Experian Boost. 

Bottom line

Consumer credit advocates love Experian Boost, and there’s more good news: Experian also has RentBureau, which can enable you to report rent payments on your credit report. Additionally, with the new UltraFICO score, you can get credit for good money management and saving habits. With all these ways to boost your score, you shouldn’t have much trouble making one work.

Editorial Disclaimer

The editorial content on this page is based solely on the objective assessment of our writers and is not driven by advertising dollars. It has not been provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. However, we may receive compensation when you click on links to products from our partners.

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