If you’re trying to raise your credit score, you know it takes time and focused decisions in regards to your personal finances. So consider using bill payments you already make to build credit. Although you may not be able to report every bill payment, with services like Experian Boost®, on-time payments towards qualifying bills, like utility bills, phone bills and bills for streaming services can count towards the Experian data in your credit file. Even rent payments can qualify.
In this guide, we explain what Experian Boost® is, what types of bills count for Experian Boost®, how it helps you build credit, and the pros and cons of the service.
Experian Boost® is a free service that’s used to add qualifying accounts, such as your utility and cell phone accounts, to your Experian credit report. Both a credit-building and credit repair tool, Experian Boost® works by only reporting positive payment history on these accounts, not late payments. So it not only helps to beef up a thin credit file, but it also works to impact your credit score with positive payment information. It considers up to two years of payment history for qualifying bills.
Adding new credit information to your credit report for on-time payments you’ve made may result in an immediate score increase. Keep in mind that, to use Experian Boost®, you need to connect it to a bank account and approve every qualifying personal account you want to connect so that you get your on-time utility payments, phone payments and more reported to your credit file.
Though Experian Boost® is calculated using the FICO® 8 credit scoring model, it can impact multiple credit scoring models. As long as your lender uses the most common versions of the FICO® and VantageScore® models, they’ll see the impacted credit score when they request your credit report from Experian.
Experian Boost® has some qualifications for users. To use Experian Boost®, you need:
Though many bills can be added to Experian Boost, and you can choose which of your qualifying accounts you want to add to your Experian credit file, not all bills qualify. According to Experian Boost®, the following list includes bills that can currently qualify to be added to your credit report:
Rent payments made with cash, money orders, personal checks or mobile apps like PayPal are not eligible for Experian Boost®.
Anyone who is struggling with their credit, or who wants to build credit, may benefit from Experian Boost®, so long as they meet the minimum requirements to use it.
According to Experian’s research reported in 2021, consumers saw an average FICO® score increase of 12 points when they used Experian Boost® to add their accounts to their credit report. The results were even more dramatic for users with bad credit or limited credit history: Users with credit scores below 579 saw an average score increase of 22 points, and 85% of consumers with thin credit files — fewer than five credit accounts — experienced a rise in their FICO® scores.
Keep in mind that everyone’s credit history is unique, so some users may not experience a credit score increase. Experian states that it doesn’t guarantee a score increase or improved approval odds, because results may vary based on your individual credit report.
Your payment history is the most important factor in your credit, making up 35% of your FICO® score. Experian Boost® only reports positive payment history for qualifying accounts it adds to your credit report, giving you credit for on-time payments and solid payment history with providers that wouldn’t otherwise be shared with lenders.
While Experian Boost® can be helpful for consumers with limited credit history, you do have to have some credit history to use it. Consumers need to meet the minimum FICO® requirements in order to use Experian Boost®. In addition to the requirements for qualifying bills listed above, you’ll need:
You can take advantage of several potential benefits to using Experian Boost®:
Though the negative consequences of using Experian Boost® are minimal, it does have some limitations:
If you want to sign up for Experian Boost®, follow these steps:
Experian Boost® can be helpful for people who have little credit, poor credit or anyone interested in credit repair who has been making on-time payments on qualifying bills for some time.
If you have no credit history and don’t qualify for Experian Boost®, or want to look into other options, don’t worry — Self offers many tools you can use to build credit.
Disclaimer: FICO is a registered trademark of Fair Issac Corporation in the United States and other countries.
Ana Gonzalez-Ribeiro, MBA, AFC® is an Accredited Financial Counselor® and a Bilingual Personal Finance Writer and Educator dedicated to helping populations that need financial literacy and counseling. Her informative articles have been published in various news outlets and websites including Huffington Post, Fidelity, Fox Business News, MSN and Yahoo Finance. She also founded the personal financial and motivational site www.AcetheJourney.com and translated into Spanish the book, Financial Advice for Blue Collar America by Kathryn B. Hauer, CFP. Ana teaches Spanish or English personal finance courses on behalf of the W!SE (Working In Support of Education) program has taught workshops for nonprofits in NYC.
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