What Is Experian Boost?
The pros and cons of this credit-boosting tool
Looking to improve your credit score? Then you may consider trying a new online tool that promises to instantly improve your credit score.
It’s called Experian Boost, and it was unveiled by Experian late last year. It allows certain payments that aren’t usually reported to the credit bureaus (i.e. cable and cellphone bills or other utilities) to be factored into your Experian credit report. That data will then be used to calculate your updated FICO score.
Of those using Experian Boost, 61% increased their credit score by an average of 13 points. Sixty-six percent of the tool’s users were able to improve their FICO score from poor (300-579) to fair (580-669), according to Experian.
How Experian Boost Works
To use Experian Boost, you’ll need an online bank account and have some utility or telecommunication bills in your name. This tool wouldn’t be right for someone living at home with Mom and Dad and not paying their own bills, for example.
First, you’ll have to create an account. You’ll be prompted to enter all your basic data, such as name, birthday, Social Security number, and address. Then you’ll link your bank accounts. Once your accounts are linked, you can choose and verify the payments you want to factor into your credit report, which will then be used to calculate your updated credit score.
Experian Boost takes into account your telecom bills for things such as your cellphone, home phone, internet, cable, and satellite services. The utilities included are gas, electric, water, power, solar and trash. Keep in mind that rent is not included.
Experian Boost doesn’t take into account utility or telecom payments that are defaulted or late, which would cause your credit score to go down.
After you’ve chosen and verified all your eligible payments, you’ll instantly be shown your new FICO score.
Is Experian Boost Right for Me?
More than 1 million consumers have used this tool to help improve their credit, Experian claims; Experian estimates there are 100 million who fall under these categories of subprime and thin-file borrowers who are often excluded from mainstream credit and its benefits:
Subprime scorers. Experian Boost is great for those with subprime credit scores, usually under 680.
Thin-file consumers. “Thin-file consumers” with four or fewer credit accounts can also benefit from Experian Boost to get access to credit, or better credit. Thin-file consumers often have difficulty accessing credit, due to a lack of credit history—which then makes it difficult to get new credit at reasonable rates.
For both groups, it’s a credit-access-denial cycle that may feel difficult to exit. Experian Boost aims to help credit access more universally attainable and affordable.
Pros and Cons of Experian Boost
This tool allows you to improve your credit by simply paying utility and telecom bills on time. For those struggling with credit scores impacted by thin files or poor credit, this could be a much-needed step in the right direction.
As well, the tool is completely free to use. It’s a way of improving credit without hard inquiries, new lines of credit, or other risky steps.
Good credit can help you get better loan and credit card interest rates, higher approval limits, and even better car insurance rates.
One potential downside? Linking Experian Boost access with your online bank account, to sort through online transactions for bills falling under “utility” and “telecom” categories.
Another downside: Experian Boost doesn’t contribute to all FICO scores (only FICO 8). Around 90% of top lenders look at FICO scores when determining whether to approve an applicant for a loan, but only some use FICO 8. For example, FICO 8 isn't included in mortgage lending.
The Bottom Line
Experian Boost is a great tool for those with thin (or poor) credit looking to instantly improve their FICO score. Plus, it’s free.
But that boost may be small, so engage in other best practices regarding credit, to improve your credit score, such as keeping your credit utilization ratio under 30%, making credit payments on time, and limiting the opening of new credit cards.
Experian.com. "More Than 1 Million Americans Have Completed Experian Boost." Accessed Oct. 21, 2019.
Experian. "Introducing Experian Boost, a New Way to Instantly Improve Your Credit Scores," Accessed October 21, 2019.
FICO. "FICO Scores Versions," Accessed October 21, 2019.