If you haven’t been using credit for very long, you might have what’s known as a “thin credit file”—a credit report with a very short payment history. Because lenders like to see a long history of credit use, a thin file can make it hard to qualify for new credit cards or loans, which in turn makes it difficult to get your credit off the ground.
Experian Boost is a service that addresses this problem by adding some of your regular bill payments to your credit report, bolstering your payment history. Read on to learn more.
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What is Experian Boost?
Experian Boost is a service provided by the credit bureau Experian that lets you report certain bill payments so that you can quickly build credit. Experian Boost gives you credit for on-time payments you make for services like utilities. Paying utilities doesn’t normally build credit, but Experian Boost will add your payments to your credit report so that it does.
You can add any of the following bills to your report to boost your credit score: 1
- Streaming services like Netflix, HBO, Amazon Prime, and Disney Plus+
How does Experian Boost work?
To use Experian Boost, you need to sign up for a membership and connect it to your bank account. During the signup process, Experian will ask you which payments you want to add to your credit report.
There’s no risk of hurting your credit score because Experian will only add on-time payments to your credit report and will ignore late payments. The service is voluntary, and you can have Experian remove accounts from your credit report if you change your mind later. 4
How much does Experian Boost cost?
Experian Boost doesn’t cost anything; it’s a free service. You don’t need to pay when you sign up or at any point down the line, and there are no hidden charges.
Is Experian Boost safe?
Yes, Experian Boost is safe. Experian won’t conduct a hard inquiry (a credit check) when you sign up for the service, and it only records your on-time payments, which means it can’t possibly hurt your credit score. It also can’t access your bank funds. 5
Does Experian Boost work?
Yes, Experian Boost works. If you sign up, there’s a good chance it will improve your credit score. According to Experian’s data, 60% of the people who sign up for this service see at least some improvement in their scores. 6
How much will Experian Boost improve my credit score?
The amount that Experian Boost will increase your score depends on your credit profile. You’ll benefit more if you have an insufficient credit history (known in the credit industry as a “thin file”). If you have a strong payment history and a relatively good credit score, you’ll see less improvement.
Pros and cons of Experian Boost
Experian Boost is worth signing up for if you’re looking for an easy way to boost your credit score. However, the service has limitations, so you shouldn’t expect any miracles.
Let’s take a look at the advantages and disadvantages of Experian Boost.
Advantages of Experian Boost
Experian Boost has three main benefits:
- Zero cost: There are other companies (like LevelCredit, for example) that offer similar services that add your regular monthly payments to your credit report, but most of them cost money. In contrast, Experian Boost is free.
- Immediate score improvement: Unlike most other methods for building your credit, Experian Boost instantly updates your credit report, giving you an immediate increase in your credit score after you’ve registered. 7 This can help you qualify for credit and loans with more favorable terms, such as lower interest rates.
- No risk: Signing up for Experian Boost won’t cause a drop in your credit score, even if you’ve missed bills in the past. This is because Experian only adds on-time payments to your credit report.
Downsides of Experian Boost
Experian Boost has several drawbacks:
- Less effective if you have good credit: If you already have a solid payment history and a good credit score, Experian Boost isn’t going to have a substantial effect on your credit. According to Experian, a full 21% of people with poor credit who have used the service were able to boost their FICO score into the “fair” range, but only 3% of people with “good” credit saw their score move into the “very good” range. 6
- Doesn’t affect your Equifax or TransUnion credit scores: As mentioned, Experian Boost only adds your payments to your Experian credit report. This means that your TransUnion and Equifax credit scores won’t increase when you sign up.
Should I use Experian Boost?
Registering for Experian Boost is generally a good idea because there’s no cost or risk involved. It can be particularly helpful if you have a thin credit file.
However, if you’re looking to build credit, signing up for Experian Boost is just a start, not the only step you should take.
To get the best results, educate yourself on how credit works and how your credit score is calculated. If you’re just starting out, you can also explore credit-building tools such as credit-builder loans and secured credit cards, which are designed to help people with thin credit files start building their credit.