Experian Boost Review: Does It Work?
Credit is a bit of a paradox: You build a better credit score by using credit but you can’t get credit without a credit score. Experian Boost is a free credit-building tool that offers a workaround to the traditional credit model.
It does this by looking at your payment history for bills like rent, utilities and streaming services that you make from your bank account and aren’t reported to the credit bureaus. It adds items to your credit report without actually needing a line of credit like a credit card or car loan. Experian claims that the average user can raise their credit score by 13 points with Experian Boost.
The main caveat, however, is that it only works with your Experian credit score and report. Experian Boost will not affect scores generated from your Equifax and TransUnion reports.
Pros and Cons of Experian Boost
Free. Experian Boost is a free service so there’s nothing to lose
May improve credit score. Your years of on-time utility, cable and internet payments may help your Experian credit score go up
Works quickly. You’ll see your point boost immediately
Won’t damage your credit. If you discover there aren’t any boost-eligible payments, your credit score won’t be hurt
Your score may not improve. There’s no guarantee that your credit score will improve after adding the additional information
Only works with Experian. The other two credit bureaus do not have access to this information so any benefit is marginal because not all lenders use Experian to check your credit
Must share personal data. Experian uses bank-level encryption but there’s always a level of risk when sharing personal information. You can unlink accounts and request that Experian delete your data at any time
How does Experian Boost work?
Experian Boost is a free service that works by looking at your recent payment history from your bank account and adding it to your Experian credit report. You’ll need to give Experian access to your bank account to get started. The sign-up process is simple and only takes a few minutes.
You need to provide personal information including:
- Home address
- Mobile phone number
- Social Security number
For Experian Boost to work, you’ll need to connect your bank account and/or credit card accounts that you use to make the payments that you want to report.
To get the most out of your payment history, you should add any open account with bill payments within the past 24 months.
Experian will show you eligible payments, and you can select the ones that you want to use.
You’ll see how many points your score increased after your records are added to your credit file.
Is Experian Boost free?
Experian Boost is a free service available to anyone who registers. However, for the service to work, you do need to connect accounts from which you make bill payments. Only banking data is collected from these accounts.
Is Experian Boost safe?
Yes, Experian Boost is safe to use as it has multiple layers of technology protecting your personal information. You should create unique passwords, log in from your own device and avoid using public internet for additional security.
Who can benefit from Experian Boost?
Anyone may benefit from Experian boost, though people with low credit scores may benefit the most. While there’s no guarantee your score will improve, Experian says that the average person will get a 13-point boost to their FICO Score after using Experian Boost.
You can benefit the most from Experian Boost the most if you have:
→ No credit history: Adding a history of on-time payments to your report could help you create a credit score and provide a good start on building a credit history
→ A thin credit file: Padding your credit history with your bill payment history may increase your credit score
→ Bad credit: If you’re trying to bounce back from previous credit mistakes and you have a good record of paying bills on time, you could substantially increase your score with Experian Boost
→ Good credit: If you need a small boost to your credit score to qualify for a loan, adding more data to your credit file may help
Other ways to boost your credit score
For a longer-term credit boost, and one which offers the potential to be reported to all three credit bureaus, consider one of these alternatives to Experian Boost. They don’t yield quick and easy results, but they are tried-and-true ways to raise your credit score. They do carry some risk but also more reward since the data would likely be reported to more than one credit bureau.
Become an authorized user on someone’s credit card
Becoming an authorized user may be the fastest and simplest way to improve your credit score because it allows you to piggyback off another person’s credit history. The catch is that you need to find a family member or friend with good credit who is willing to add you to their account.
The bank will report the full payment history for the account to your credit report, even if you don’t personally use the credit card. However, if the main user on the account slips up and misses a payment, this will also be reflected on your credit report.
Open a secured credit card
A secured credit card is a good starting point for those who need to build or rebuild credit. Since you put down a deposit to secure a credit line, secured cards are easier to qualify for. Aside from the deposit, a secured card functions just like an unsecured card, allowing you to make charges and pay them off at the end of the billing cycle. If you pay your bill on time each month, you’ll create a positive payment history and you should see your credit score go up over time.
If you can meet the qualifications, you should apply for a secured card with no annual fee that offers you a chance to graduate to an unsecured credit card.
Take out a credit builder loan
For those who don’t want a credit card, a credit builder loan is another solid tool for building credit. Similar to a secured credit card, you deposit money into a savings account to secure a small loan, which you then pay back in installments to create a positive payment history. You can have your funds released by paying back the loan.
On the plus side, you’ll have a set payment schedule to help you pay off your loan, and you won’t be tempted to make purchases that you can’t afford to pay off. However, since you have to incur interest and fees with a credit builder loan, you should explore the previous options before taking one out.