Experian Boost™ Review: The Pros & Cons of Boost


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By Chris Huntley, Certified Credit Consultant

Last updated 06/12/2020


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Summary:  Experian Boost™ is a free tool that lets you increase your FICO® credit score by reporting utilities payment history to Experian.  Learn how it works, how it helps improve your credit score, and the pros & cons of using it.

Before we can get into our Experian Boost™ review, you should know who Experian is (in plain English) and the problem they are trying to solve with Boost.

Experian is one of the three national credit bureaus that provides information about your credit history – including credit scores – to creditors and lenders of all shapes and sizes.

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They compete with Equifax and TransUnion even though all three are slightly different due to the industries they tend to focus on (e.g. financial services, employment and income, insurance, etc.). 

Creditors get to decide which credit bureau they want to do business with, and many creditors use at least two of the three.  In the case of mortgages, they probably use all three.

Experian Boost Review - Pros and Cons, How it Works, Alternatives

What is Experian Boost™? How Does it Help Your Credit?

Experian introduced Boost in 2018 as a way to provide consumers with the ability to include their utility accounts in their Experian credit report.  

You see, most utility companies do not report your positive payment history to the credit bureaus, which means you don’t get any credit for paying these accounts on time.  

Negative information is reported if you stop paying on your account, and the utility company sends your account to a collection agency. 

Quick Tip:  

Experian Boost™ only helps your Experian credit score.  To increase your TransUnion score as well, sign up for eCredable Lift.

The utility company reports your account “in collection” at the credit bureaus which really harms your credit score.

Until Boost, there was no way to report the positive payments.  Now there is!

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Experian Boost Is Free! 

Experian Boost credits you for paying utility and cell phone bills which improves your credit score for free.  

It's quick, easy, and free.

How it Helps Your Credit

The whole point is to help the 62 million Americans who have “thin credit files,” meaning they have few (if any) credit accounts on their credit report.  

Typically, they have less than four.  When credit bureaus are trying to establish your that you are a good credit risk, they need information to do that.  The more history of payments they have, the better.  

Experian Boost™ gives Experian access to more payment history, which they can use to boost your credit score.

Increasing Credit Score

Experian Boost™ Review:  How It Works

Experian Boost™ allows you to report your utilities and telecom payment history to Experian.  Adding utility accounts can be really helpful for many consumers.  

Here’s how it works:

  1. You enroll in Experian Boost™ at www.Experian.com.  Results may vary.  Visit site for details.
  2. You are required to provide your login credentials (username and password) to your online checking account to Experian Boost™ can log into your account.
  3. Experian Boost™ scans your checking account looking for payments to utility companies (like cell phone, internet, and electricity companies).
  4. You have the option to choose which accounts you want included in your Experian credit report.  The account must have at least three months of payment history to be considered for inclusion.
  5. Experian Boost™ re-calculates your FICO® Score 8 and shows you how much your credit score increased. It’s not uncommon to see no increase, and in some cases you might actually see a decrease in your score.
  6. Every month Experian Boost™ logs into your checking account looking for new payment transactions for your utility accounts and updates your credit report accordingly. 

Here's more information about what Boost is and how it works.  Now let’s consider the advantages and disadvantages of this new approach to including more information in your Experian credit report.

Can Experian Boost™ Hurt Your Credit Score?

Late payments usually hurt your credit score, but that isn’t how Experian Boost works. 

Here’s why.

Experian only considers positive payment history.

That means if you missed your utility payment, rent, or cell phone bill, the late payments won’t bring down your credit score. 

My Personal Story of How Boost Affected Me:

I signed up for it about 6 months ago, again with the understanding it can only help your credit score, not hurt it.  What I found was that may be true for your "score", but I don't think that's the case when actually going and applying for a loan.

Here's how it shows up on my credit report.

Experian_Boost_on_Credit_Report

So here's what happened:

I just got done with a mortgage refinance where my broker said the utilities I had reported on Boost showed up on my credit report as "self-reported debts."

So it looked to the underwriter like we had more monthly debt payments than we actually do.  Luckily, it wasn't much that we reported to Boost so it didn't affect our approval, but it is something you should be aware of if you're going to be applying for a loan where they look at your debt or debt-to-income, which they usually do.  

credit knocks logo

Raise Your Credit Score For Free! 

Experian Boost credits you for paying utility and cell phone bills which improves your credit score for free.  

It's quick, easy, and free.

Pros & Cons of Experian Boost™

You might be surprised to learn that not everyone who learns about Boost decides to use it.  There are several great reasons to use it.  However, there are also some disadvantages.

Pros

  • Experian Boost™ is free.  It allows you to have some control over which accounts you want included in your Experian credit report. Most utility companies do not report your monthly payments to the major credit bureaus.  This means you’re not getting any credit for paying your utility bills like cell phone, internet and electricity. 
  • Adding more positive information to your Experian credit report can have a very positive impact if your credit report has very few accounts.  Maybe you just started using credit and you have only one credit card.  It will be hard to build a strong credit history (and credit score) with only one account, so adding more accounts is going to be helpful.
  • Experian Boost™ was launched in early 2018.  Experian claims the average credit score improvement is 14 points.  That could make a big difference for some people, especially if you cross over one of the major score thresholds from “poor” to “fair”, and from “fair” to “good”.  It would be very unlikely to cross over from “good” to “excellent”.
  • Experian Boost™ only includes positive payments in your Experian credit report, and you must have at least three months of consecutive payments for each account you choose to include.  If you have late payments, it won’t hurt your credit score since Experian doesn’t know about your late payments. Since they won’t be included in your credit report they can’t negatively impact your credit score.

Click here to sign up for Experian Boost™ for free.

Results may vary.  Visit site for details.

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Does Experian Boost™ Cost Money?

One of the pros we stated above was that Boost is free, to which people usually respond, “Is Experian Boost™ really free? What's the catch?”

You might not think so, but Experian Boost™ really is a completely free service.

First, you must sign up for an Experian account if you don’t already have one. 

That’s no big deal, right?

If there is a "catch," it's this...  Once you have an account, Experian will ask you to upgrade to their paid services. And that’s not bad - it’s just annoying. 

If you upgrade, you get more access to your FICO scores.  But it’s not required to get the benefit of Experian Boost™.

Cons

  • You have to give Experian access to your online checking account.  This is a non-starter for some people who are concerned about the security of their checking account.  If this bothers you, you might want to consider eCredable Lift which only requires access to your online utility accounts.

  • You have to pay all of your utility bills from your online checking account.  This is the only way Experian Boost can scan your checking account to look to payments to utility companies.  This means you can’t use a credit card to pay your bill and earn reward points.  If you want to keep paying your utility bills any way the company will accept, again, you might want to consider eCredable Lift.  It doesn’t care how you pay your bills.

  • Experian Boost only works for people who already have a credit file.  If you are just getting started building a credit history, you should definitely consider using eCredable Lift.  It will help you establish an initial credit file at TransUnion.

  • Because Experian Boost™ only reports positive payments, some lenders may not use these accounts when they calculate your credit score.  Lenders prefer to see the good news and the bad news regarding how you pay your bills.  If you want to make sure your utility accounts are accurately reported so they can be used by more lenders, you might want to consider eCredable Lift.  eCredable reports all of your payment history to TransUnion – the good and the bad.  Lenders rely on this kind of complete reporting which conforms to credit industry reporting standards.

  • It only helps your Experian score.  It won’t help your scores at the two other major credit bureaus, TransUnion or Equifax.  

You should also understand that Boost works best for people with thin credit files. 

If you have 20 years of payment history, have owned multiple credit cards, and had a car loan and home loan, adding proof of utilities payments will not be as impactful as for someone with only a few years of credit history and maybe just one credit card.  

3 Credit Boosting Shortcuts by Cost


$ - Add up to 2 years of utility payment history to your TransUnion score by signing up for eCredable Lift.

$$$ - Can't qualify for a credit card?  Start with a secured credit card and build your payment history.

$$$$ - Add up to 10 years of payment history to your credit file by buying a "tradeline."  

Does Experian Boost™ Work?

Ok, we talked about some pros and cons.  Now let's talk turkey.

Does Experian Boost™ actually work?  

The answer is absolutely!

Experian has helped more than 1.3 million people boost their FICO scores.

But how much does it really help?

It depends on your starting credit score. The average consumer saw their credit score go up 13 points. 

If your credit is 579 or less, you could see an even bigger increase. Eighty-six percent of people in this range saw an average increase of 21 points.

And that’s huge.

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Experian Boost Is Free! 

Experian Boost credits you for paying utility and cell phone bills which improves your credit score for free.  

It's quick, easy, and free.

What to Do If My Bank is Not Listed in Experian Boost™?

One of the disadvantages we mentioned above was that Boost links up to your bank account rather than a credit card.

But here's the problem.  Even though Experian works with thousands of banks and credit unions, they don’t support all banks.

Which means...

You can’t use the service if your bank isn’t listed. 

That's ok.  Check out alternatives to Boost below!

You might not have anything to worry about because most of the bigger banks are supported. But you can reach out to Experian and request they add your bank to the list they support.

Is Experian Boost™ Safe?

Anytime you’re dealing with your finances, you want to take precautions.

(Identity theft is real!)

Luckily, Experian Boost is safe. 

They use 256-bit SSL encryption, which is government-level security.

Experian does need access to your bank account to find qualifying payments made to utility and phone companies.

But they’re limited to read-only access. That means they don’t store your login information and can’t make any changes to your account.

For our full review, please see:  Is Experian Safe?

Quick Tip:  

Experian Boost™ only helps your Experian credit score.  To increase your TransUnion score as well, sign up for eCredable Lift.

Experian Boost™ Support:  Phone, Login Issues, How to Cancel

Experian Boost is easy to use. Visit Experian.com and click “Sign In” in the upper right corner to log in. 

The service is free, but they ask you to upgrade each time. To access your account, just click the option that says “No, Keep My Current Membership.”

Navigating to Experian Boost is a cinch, too. 

Click the menu button and select “Experian Boost” under the “Reports & Scores” section.

If you hit a snag, you can call customer support at 866-617-1894.

It helps to have your Member ID number when you call. You can find it by clicking the menu button and then going to your profile.

Unfortunately, there isn’t a chat or email option. But if you want to cancel your account, it’s easy to do with the automated phone system when you call.

Best Alternatives to Experian Boost™

Now that we’ve completed our Experian Boost™ review, let’s talk about similar services you can use as alternatives (or in addition to) Boost.

Another credit-building strategy similar to Boost is rent reporting.

In the same way you don’t normally get credit for utilities payments on your credit file, landlords rarely report renters’ on-time payments either.  If you rent, you can sign up for a rent reporting company to get your landlord to report to one or more of the credit bureaus.

However, it costs quite a bit (several rent reporting companies charge upwards of $95 as a sign up fee plus a monthly charge).  In fact, adding a utility account to your credit report has the same value as adding rental payment account. I know that seems illogical considering how important your rent payment is, but including two utility accounts is twice as valuable as one rent account, and can be done at a much cheaper price. Imagine what adding three utilty accounts will do!

Did you know?  Payment history is the number one component of your credit score, accounting for 35% of your score.  Experian Boost™ and eCredable Lift are two great ways to add to your payment history.

If you’re looking for alternatives to Experian Boost™, there’s a much better option.

Another way to get credit for your utilities payments is to use a service called eCredable Lift.  The two biggest differences between Experian Boost™ and eCredable Lift is that Lift reports to TransUnion instead of Experian, and Lift charges a small annual fee ($19.95/year).  I think it’s a superior service and well worth the small fee.

Some of the reasons I like Lift better than Boost are:

  • You don’t have to link your bank account to Lift, only your utilities accounts.  I consider this much safer than linking your bank account, as Experian makes you do.

  • Lift recognizes utilities bills paid by credit card.  Experian Boost does not, since it only ties to your bank account.  If you pay most of your bills via credit card as I do, you’re more likely to see a credit score increase with Lift.

  • Lift works great for people who are new to credit or are otherwise known as “credit invisible.”  Experian Boost can’t help you unless you already have a credit file.

eCredable Lift - Alternative to Experian Boost

Results may vary.  Visit site for details.

Experian Boost™ Reviews on Reddit

If you look at what people are saying about Experian Boost on Reddit, you’ll find mixed opinions. 

But overall?

The results are positive.

One user reported an increase of nine points in their credit score after using it.  Some people complained they tried it and it didn't help their score.  The average increase is 13 points, so your result might be different.

Others say there isn’t much benefit because only your Experian score is affected.  Boost does nothing for your Equifax or TransUnion scores.

credit knocks logo

Raise Your Credit Score For Free! 

Experian Boost credits you for paying utility and cell phone bills which improves your credit score for free.  

It's quick, easy, and free.

What to Do If Experian Boost™ Is Not Working

You’re thinking about using Experian Boost to make your credit score go up, right? 

So what happens if you don’t see a change in your credit score?

Well, there are a few things to consider if it’s not working.

Experian might not be connecting to your bank account. If they can’t connect, they can’t verify your on-time payment history. 

Or if they can connect but you pay your bills with credit cards, checks, or Venmo, it won’t work, either. 

And remember: 

Experian Boost works best for people with thin credit files.

You might not see much of a boost if you already have a long credit history and multiple tradelines open.

Overall, I am personally really happy with Experian Boost™.  It does have some disadvantages (the worst is that it doesn’t give you credit for bills you pay by credit card), but I think the pros outweigh the cons. 

I also appreciate that Experian is helping individuals with thin credit files.  And remember, you can also check out eCredable Lift to boost your TransUnion score along with your Experian score.  In my opinion, I wouldn't use one instead of the other.  I would do both!

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