Does your credit score need a boost? Experian, the largest credit bureau in the U.S., offers a free service worth considering if you’re looking for a fast and easy way to improve your credit health. It’s called Experian Boost, and many U.S. consumers have used the service to start getting results.
Read on to learn more about Experian Boost, how it works, the impact it could have on your credit score, and how to sign up.
What Is Experian Boost?
Experian Boost is a service that helps you instantly raise your FICO score. You can sign up for free and get credit for timely utility, qualifying streaming service, and cell phone payments. Participating providers include AT&T, Spectrum, Verizon, Netflix, Disney+, Hulu, and HBO.
It only takes a few minutes to get started, and impacts multiple credit scoring models.
Should You Use Experian Boost?
It depends on your credit goals. However, it doesn’t hurt to give Experian Boost a try, as it’s a free and easy way to potentially add points to your credit score. Plus, you can end your enrollment in the program whenever you see fit if you no longer need the service.
How Does Experian Boost Your Credit Score?
There are five components to your credit score:
- 35% Payment history: Do you pay your bills on time? The good news is a missed payment on a credit card, or loan account isn’t the end of the world. You’ll likely incur a late-payment fee, but it won’t be reported if you bring the account current within 29-days of the original due date.
- 30% Amounts owed: Lenders analyze your credit utilization ratio to gauge your creditworthiness. You can compute this figure by dividing the amount of credit in use on your revolving accounts (or credit cards) by your total credit limit across the board. So, if you owe a combined $7,000 on three credit cards, each with $10,000 limits, your credit utilization ratio is 23 percent ($7,000/$30,000). If possible, keep this percentage at 30 percent or lower to maintain a good credit score.
- 15% Length of credit history: The longer your credit history, the better in the eyes of creditors or lenders.
- 10% Credit mix: Lenders want to know that you can responsibly manage installment and revolving debt.
- 10% New accounts: Each hard inquiry, which results when you apply for credit, shaves a few points off your credit score. If you have several hard inquiries in a short period, creditors may think you’re in financial trouble and deny your applications.
Experian Boost targets the most significant factor – payment history – but in a unique way. Traditional credit scoring models only include credit accounts in the payment history calculation. This service takes the calculation a bit further by giving you credit for on-time payments made in utility bills, phone, and qualifying streaming service providers.
So, you’ll have even more positive payments on your credit profile which in turn helps your credit score. And if you go through a rough financial patch and fall behind on these accounts, Experian Boost won’t punish you for the delinquency. Instead, the free service omits the late payments from the scoring equation to preserve your credit score.
If you decide Experian Boost is suitable for you, here’s what to expect upon enrolling:
- Step 1: Visit the Experian Boost page and select “Start your boost”. Input your name and address, email address, and desired password to create your free account.
- Step 2: Connect your bank account(s) to the platform. Be sure to include the account(s) you use to pay monthly bills.
- Step 3: Choose the accounts and positive payment history for the bills you want Experian to add to your credit file. These accounts will also factor into the scoring equation.
- Step 4: Boost your credit score and view the results instantly.
Can Experian Boost Hurt Your Credit Score?
Experian uses complex algorithms to compute your credit score. In some instances, your credit score could remain the same or drop when you sign up for Experian Boost and connect your bank accounts. If this happens, you can disconnect your bank accounts right away, and your score will revert to where it was.
You have the option to reconnect your accounts at any time. So you could always try again at a later date to determine if adding those additional payments could help increase your credit score.
Will Experian Boost Strengthen Your Credit Score?
The average Experian Boost user sees a 12 point increase in their FICO Score 8. That figure could be higher or low, depending on your credit profile. There’s also a chance you won’t see any improvement.
The good news is the service may help you, regardless of your current credit rating. If you’re a credit newbie, the positive payment history reported will improve your credit health instantly. But if you have bad credit, adding these accounts to your credit profile can help reduce the impact of the negative marks you already have.
Be mindful that some lenders exclude credit information from Experian Boost when evaluating credit applications. Consequently, the credit score they see could be lower than what’s reflected in the Experian portal.
How Much Does Experian Boost cost?
Experian Boost is available as a free service through the Experian CreditWorks℠ Basic membership. It’s easy to register, and you don’t have to put a credit card on file to get started.
This free Experian account includes access to your free Experian credit report and FICO® Score (with monthly updates), FICO score monitoring of Experian data, Experian credit monitoring and alerts, dark web surveillance, and the credit card and loan matching tool.
You may notice advertisements for paid Experian services, like reports and scores from the three credit bureaus, identity theft monitoring, along with offers for new credit accounts in your Experian dashboard. This activity is typical for CreditWorks℠ Basic subscribers. Should you decide to sign up for a partner offer, Experian may receive a commission.
How To Sign Up for Experian Boost
Visit the Experian Boost webpage or download the mobile app to enroll in the Experian CreditWorks℠ Basic membership program.
When prompted, enter your first and last name, current address, email address, and preferred email address to access the dashboard. Next, connect your bank account(s) and wait for the platform to analyze activity. Once Experian identifies qualifying payments, select and confirm the accounts you want to use for Experian Boost.
You can disconnect one or several accounts at any time. And if you prefer to stop using Experian Boost altogether, you also have the option to unenroll from the service at the tap of a fingertip without consequence.
The Bottom Line: Does Experian Boost Work?
Experian Boost has helped millions of Americans raise their credit score. However, the impact it will have on your score depends on your credit profile.
Generally, consumers that have several seasoned tradelines with excellent payment history won’t see much of an increase by using the service. The same applies to individuals with extensive credit history and 800 + credit scores.
However, if your score is low because you have minimal credit history or past missteps, adding payments for utilities, phones, and qualifying streaming services could give you a sizable boost. Your score could improve from a bad to a fair credit rating, and you could save a bit on interest when you secure a credit card or loan product.
Word of caution: As mentioned earlier, if the creditor uses an Experian credit report and score that omits the newly added tradeline, Experian Boost likely won’t help you secure more favorable financing terms.