Experian boost helps people with thin credit files improve their credit by adding their payment history from utilities, telecom and streaming services to their Experian credit report. Most people see a boost of 12-13 points but there’s no guarantee that it will improve your credit. In some cases, your credit score may actually go down.
That’s why this post will do an in-depth Experian Credit Boost Review. We’ll cover the Experian Boost cost, how it works, how Experian makes money and other ways to improve your credit score.
A Detailed Experian Boost Review
Experian Boost Cost: Free
Experian Boost is free but the Experian website does A LOT of upselling. Every time I log in they try to get me to sign up for their premium service. Experian Boost is free and freezing your credit with Experian is also free. Do not give them any credit card information.
How does Experian Boost work?
Experian boost is meant to “help you” improve your credit score (by 12-13 points on average) by padding your credit report with 3 months of payment history from their approved categories. Each payment from these categories is considered an on-time payment which helps your payment history. As you may already know, your credit score is based on payment history, credit utilization, age of credit, derogatory marks, total accounts, and hard inquiries.
Eligible Experian boost categories:
- Electric bills
- Water bills
- Phone bills
- TV (Cable/Satellite) bills
- Internet bills
- Netflix payments
You will need to connect your bank account to Experian so they can have read-only access to your checking, savings and credit card transactions. Experian Boost will then look at your transaction history and present you the qualified transactions that you would like to add to your Experian credit boost profile.
Signing Up For Experian Credit Boost
You’ll be required to sign up for Experian and once logged in, select “Experian Boost” from the [Reports & Scores] section. Then you’ll be required to connect your bank account to Experian. Since you might have multiple credit cards to pay off various services in the approved categories, you can connect multiple banks to your Experian Boost account.
How much will your credit improve with the Experian credit boost?
It depends on your credit file. On average, credit scores increase by 13 points. If you have a very limited to no credit history, the Experian score Boost could be very helpful and you’ll probably get more than a 13-point credit score increase. For people who have years of good credit history, they might get no change to their credit score. In some cases, credit scores can actually decrease.
How does Experian benefit from boosting your credit?
Experian is potentially improving your credit score by a very small amount. Not a significant amount to get out of having bad credit, but just enough where it’s almost insignificant. In exchange for this potentially small Experian credit booster, Experian will have read-only access to ALL of your banking transactions.
Experian does not explicitly state what it will do with your data, but this data is incredibly valuable to them. Experian has a market cap of over $25 billion and they make a majority of their money by selling user information to credit card companies (an industry worth over $3 trillion). I’m not saying what they are doing or not doing with your info, this is how they’ve been making money. Plus, if you’re using a credit card, banks already know where your money is going.
Experian Boost Key Points:
- Launched in early 2019. A year later, they acquired 4 million consumers with over 29 million points boosted. But on average, most people earned a 13-point increase. That just means a lot of people didn’t get their score improved…some might have even gone down.
- Get your payment history for utility, telecom and Netflix
- You can add multiple accounts. If you have bills that you’re paying with multiple banks for the best cashback, then you can add each bank with a qualifying Experian boost payment.
- You need to provide read-only access to your bank accounts (checking, savings and/or credit cards). They could be mining your transaction data
What does a credit score over 800 get you?
Pretty much your odds of being approved for a credit card is the same for any score over 750. There’s still no guarantee you’ll be approved since credit card approvals are based on a lot of different factors. But it’s a different story when it comes to loans. A credit score of over 800 would get you the lowest possible rates on a loan.
Why you should consider using Experian Boost?
Experian credit boost is a great way of building up your credit history with Experian. They pad your payment history on your credit report with payments you’re already making for your gas, water, electricity, phone, internet and Netflix bills.
Why you shouldn’t consider using Experian Boost?
If you have a credit score over 750 with several years of existing credit history, Experian Boost will not improve your credit score. It might even drop your credit score. In the event your credit score doesn’t change or goes down, just remove the Experian Boost (disconnect all your accounts) and Experian will stop padding your credit report.
What happens when I use (and stop using) Experian Boost?
Experian Boost pads your payment history on your credit report. The “boost” is only present when your accounts with eligible payments are connected to Experian. If you disconnect your accounts, Experian will remove all payment history for the added accounts and your “boost” disappears.
I don’t like Experian
Every time I log in to the Experian site they try to upsell me for their credit monitoring service. Every. Single. Time. They really make it seem like you need to add your credit card to log in. You don’t need to give them any information and because everything is free on the Experian site. Even when freezing your credit with Experian, they show a big button “Upgrade to lock your file.” Indirectly saying, if you want to freeze your credit, you need to cough up some cash. BUT, in the small text below that big button, they state “Experian CreditLock is a separate service from a Security Freeze.”
On September 21, 2018, freezing your credit report became free in the United States. Freezing/Unfreezing your credit is a legal requirement that Experian, Equifax, and Transunion must provide. This is why I don’t like the deceptive practices of Experian when compared to freezing my credit with Equifax and Transunion. So if you want to freeze your credit for free with Experian, you have to click the smaller “Security Freeze” text that doesn’t look like a button at all. Since you’re not paying for their service, they provide you with a very basic page to fill out.
The good thing is that they do provide your FICO8 score for free. When comparing the user experience between Experian and CreditKarma, CreditKarma is an overall better experience for me even though use the FAKO estimated credit score. Basically, a 30-point difference in my credit score won’t make a difference when applying for credit cards and other bank bonuses.
3 Alternatives to the Experian Credit Booster
Credit Card Piggybacking: To improve your credit fast, you’ll need to become an authorized user on a credit card that’s old and has a high available credit limit. You can buy these authorized user slots online, but you also have to be careful with your personal data. A bad credit score is an identity no one really want to steal. Many people have their social security number leaked online from multiple data breaches in the past. Credit monitoring helps, but the best way to protect yourself is to freeze your credit reports (Experian, Equifax and Transunion).
Secured Credit Cards: A secured credit card is the starter for people trying to establish a credit history. This is level one and a good start to learning how to use credit cards responsibly. Secured credit cards help establish a credit history and a customer relationship with banks. Wells Fargo and Discover secured credit cards are a good start because you can get upgraded to a regular credit card after banking with them for some time.
Tomo Credit: This one is new. Tomo credit gives you a charge card (you have to pay the full balance every month) with a credit limit based on how much available cash you have in the bank. They target people with the funds to buy things but have not yet established a credit history. They report to the credit bureaus just like a credit card and you don’t need any credit history to apply with them (no credit inquiry during the Tomo application).
Experian’s Boost system is free which makes it worth your time. The average boost of 13 points isn’t much, but it’s all part of building your credit history. I only recommend using this if you have a low credit score and not much credit history. For everyone else with an established credit history and a score over 750, it probably won’t make any difference to your score. When it comes to using Experian Boost vs an Authorized user, being an authorized user will reflect much more positively on your credit score.
If you need to improve your credit score fast, I highly recommend becoming an authorized user which works significantly better than the Experian credit boost. Becoming an authorized user only gives you the credit benefits while you are an authorized user so you’ll need to apply for credit cards during your credit boost and then you can get some good credit cards to build your credit history.