For People With No Credit Score, a New App Can Help

Experian’s workaround may help millions build a FICO score

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A new mobile app launched this week by Experian, one of the three major credit bureaus, aims to help consumers with no credit history at all build one from scratch. 

Millions of Americans are considered “credit invisible,” meaning they have no credit history at all, which leaves them with few or no options for obtaining affordable lending. Experian’s new product, called Experian Go, targets these consumers, as well as those who have some credit history but not enough to generate a credit score, and helps them create a score for the first time. It builds on another product, Experian Boost, launched in 2019, which already allows users to add utility, cell phone, and some other bills to their existing Experian credit report.

Without a credit score, it’s virtually impossible to get a loan, or at least one on reasonable terms, leaving many to resort to predatory lending. As many as 28 million consumers are considered credit invisible and another 21 million Americans have a credit record but no score because their history is too thin or out-of-date, according to a study by Experian. Twenty-eight percent of all Black and 26% of all Hispanic consumers are either “credit invisible” or unscorable, compared with 16% of White and Asian consumers.

“A few years back, Experian decided it would focus on financial inclusion and create fair access to right financial products,” said Jeff Softley, president of the direct to consumer business at Experian Consumer Services. “Without a profile or credit report, it’s hard to get access to financial products and achieve key life events like buying a house, getting a car loan. This solves a really big problem for a lot of people.” 

With its new app, Experian said people can quickly and easily establish a credit profile. Experian Go asks for basic information like name, date of birth, and social security number, along with your photo and a state-issued ID, said Softley. Experian Go is free, but the upside for Experian is that it will have your personal information, which it can then use to pitch you other products.

Experian piloted Go last October with more than 15,000 consumers. Of those who had no credit history but were paying utilities and other bills on time and shared those payment histories, 91% of them got instant FICO scores. A FICO score is a three-digit number based on your credit reports that lenders use to determine the risks of lending you money. The scores averaged 665, which is considered fair.

As users build credit history and Experian gets more details on them, the company will offer credit cards from its partners, initially Capital One and fintech Petal, Softley said. However, “the journey will change so as a consumer establishes a credit history, they will see an expanded selection,” he said. “Our primary objective is to bring financial inclusion to the millions of people who are credit invisible.”

Have a question, comment, or story to share? You can reach Medora at medoralee@thebalance.com.

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