Experian Boost is a free tool created and offered by Experian—one of the three major credit bureaus—that you can use to add data to your Experian credit report. Adding “alternative data” such as utility and mobile phone payments to your credit report is one of the few ways you can quickly improve your credit scores.
What is Experian Boost?
Experian launched Experian Boost in early 2019 and has followed up with a large marketing push to help make people aware of the free tool. But what exactly is Experian Boost, and what does it do? In short, it allows you to securely connect a bank account that you use to pay utility, phone or streaming service bills and choose to add your on-time payments to your credit reports.
As with a credit card or loan, these will appear in your credit report as a separate account—or tradeline, in credit reporting speak. Most common versions of the FICO® Score and VantageScore® will consider these tradelines and your payment history when calculating your credit scores.
To date, over 60 million points have been boosted across America. And, on average, Boost users have increased their credit scores by 12 points.
How Does It Work?
Experian Boost works by using a secure connection and read-only access to search your connected bank accounts for eligible bill payments. If it finds a trend of at least three payments within a six-month period, it can import up to 24 months’ worth of payment history to your Experian credit report.
In general, your credit report is made up of information that other companies send to the credit bureaus and that credit bureaus collect from public records. Experian Boost changes the dynamic by letting you pick and choose which data you want to add to your credit reports.
Here are a few of the benefits of using Experian Boost:
- You’re in control: You get to choose which accounts to connect and which bills to add to your credit reports. You can also disconnect your bank account and remove the accounts from your credit history at any time.
- It likely won’t hurt your credit: Experian Boost only looks for and adds on-time payments to your credit reports. If you miss a payment, that won’t show up in your credit report via Experian Boost.
- It could instantly raise your credit scores: It can be difficult to improve your credit quickly, but adding new tradelines with a history of on-time payments is one of the few ways to do it. You might see your score drop in certain situations, but you can disconnect your bank account and the tradelines will be removed and no longer be considered in your credit scores.
Who Can Benefit the Most From Experian Boost?
Experian Boost will be most beneficial for people who have certain types of credit profiles:
- New to credit or thin file: If you have a short credit history or a “thin file” (only a couple tradelines), adding new tradelines with positive payment histories could be particularly helpful.
- Rebuilding credit: Additionally, adding positive payment information can be an important part of rebuilding your credit if you currently have a low score. Plus, unlike with credit repair, there’s no cost and you don’t need to worry about scams.
Experian Boost is good for people with little to no credit history as well as established borrowers looking to increase their credit scores.
Can Experian Boost Help You?
Whether Experian Boost will help you can depend on how much your score improves and if a creditor will use the increased score to make a decision.
Assuming you can link and add your accounts, your score increase will depend on your entire credit profile. For example, if you already have 20 tradelines in your credit report with long histories of on-time payments, adding one new utility account might not make a big difference. However, if you have a thin file, adding several new tradelines and their payment histories might quickly improve your scores.
But the benefit can also depend on where your score starts. If you have an 800 credit score, increasing your score by a few points won’t necessarily help you because you may already be eligible for the best rates and terms. However, if Experian Boost moves you from a fair score of 660 to a good score of 680, you’re moving into a higher scoring band and may now be eligible for better offers.
Finally, it’s important to remember that Experian Boost will only help you if a creditor uses your Experian credit report and a score that considers the newly added tradelines to make a decision. Creditors can choose which credit reports and scores they want to use, and some may share this information with you if you ask.
How Much Does Experian Boost Cost?
Experian Boost is completely free—you don’t even need to enter credit card or payment details to sign up. Experian also includes credit monitoring with your account, which can send you alerts if there’s a suspicious change in your credit report.
However, Experian may promote paid programs within your account, such as one of its more robust credit or identity monitoring tools. Experian also partners with financial services providers, such as credit card issuers and lenders, and may receive a commission if you sign up for a new product through its website.
Experian Boost Reviews
Experian Boost reviews tend to be mixed, but you need to look past the simple star ratings to understand what’s actually happening.
Negative reviews may highlight how people don’t feel comfortable sharing bank account information, they weren’t able to connect their bank account, Experian Boost didn’t recognize their utility payments, or Experian customer service wasn’t easily accessible. These are legitimate complaints and things you should consider before signing up.
But there are also negative reviews that aren’t about Experian Boost or from people who don’t understand how credit reporting and scoring work. For example, someone might give Experian Boost a low rating because they didn’t get a big credit score increase. However, Experian doesn’t determine your credit score. Completely separate companies (such as FICO and VantageScore) create the credit scoring models that analyze your Experian credit report to determine a score.
Positive reviews focus on how the program is easy to sign up for and use, is free, and how it quickly improved their credit scores. Many people recommend Experian Boost because it’s one of the few ways to quickly improve your credit scores for free.
Customer Success Stories
Before you take the leap and allow a website to access your bank account, you want to know that it works. Here are a few success stories to help you decide:
- Ana: Ana tried Experian Boost three times, each with positive outcomes. Suffering from bad credit decisions she made in her 20s. Ana was able to boost her credit score by 13 points.
- Jennifer: A writer for CNN, Jennifer tried Experian Boost as part of a review for an article. During the review process, she was impressed by how easy the system was to use and to raise your credit score in a matter of minutes.
- Writer: A writer for CreditCards.com reviewed Experian Boost because they had a lower credit score. In 10 minutes, their credit score went up by 44 points.
Experian also offers other credit solutions such as:
- Experian CreditWorksSM: Access free credit reports and score, monitor your credit score to avoid fraud with automated alerts.
- Experian CreditMatch™: Get matched with loans and credit cards based on your financial situation and credit scores.
- One-time Credit Report and Scores: Access either Experian credit report and FICO Score or all 3 bureaus’ credit report and FICO scores.
- Experian For Business: Discover how they can help you with all your credit business affairs.