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Is Experian Boost legit? What is it and how does it work? Read on to find out how Experian Boost could help your credit score. Especially if you’re currently teetering on the brink of having good credit.
Let’s get started.
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What is Experian?
Experian is one of the three major credit bureaus used in America to determine an individual’s creditworthiness.
All three credit bureaus look at an individual’s current mix of credit and debt, as well as their payment history, to determine whether they are likely to repay their debts.
Credit bureaus do not factor an individual’s income, background, state of employment, or any other demographic information into this.
They use an algorithm to determine an individual’s creditworthiness, which is separate from the credit report itself, and known as the credit score.
When creditors such as credit card accounts report to Experian and the other bureaus, the information goes on the credit report. However, there are some things (such as utility bills and rent payments) that do not get calculated into credit reports.
This is where Experian Boost comes in handy.
What is Experian Boost?
You may have heard that Experian Boost is a way of increasing your FICO score. That’s true, but it’s also a little more to it than that.
The FICO score is a credit score that was created by the Fair Isaac Corporation. Most lenders use the FICO scores and consumer credit reports as a way to decide if a borrower is worthy of being extended credit.
For some, Experian Boost provides a small boost to their score. For others, it may have no impact at all. As a side note, this service only impacts an Experian FICO score, not an Equifax or Transunion score.
At the same time, there’s no downside whatsoever to trying to boost your credit score through Experian. It’s simply a “results may vary” situation.
If you can use the Experian Boost, you probably should. Here’s what you need to know.
Experian Boost is a way to boost your credit score based on your most commonly paid bills.
Utility bills such as gas, electricity, and so forth are often used to prove credit when you don’t have credit, or to bolster an already bad credit score when you’re looking for something like a rental home. This is just a direct way to incorporate these bills into your current credit score.
It’s important to note that there are three major credit bureaus:
A lender may pull from one or all of these, as may an employer, a credit card company, or a landlord.
The Experian Boost system will only impact your Experian score, not your Equifax or TransUnion score. Therefore, it can be of limited value, depending on the type of borrowing you’re doing.
There are companies that exclusively pull from Experian, Equifax, or TransUnion.
For more serious things, such as mortgages, all three credit scores are often pulled and the lowest credit score is dropped. In this situation, Experian Boost could at least improve the averages.
How Does Experian Boost Work To Increase Your Score?
Experian Boost takes a look at the payment history of bills such as utility bills and then adds them to your credit rating, which adds positive payment history to your Experian credit profile.
If you pay those bills on time, Experian claims you’ll likely see your credit score increase instantly. It’ll jump up more if you have limited credit history and less if you already have very good credit history.
It works this way because utility bills don’t generally report to credit, even if you are a reliable payer. Thus, Experian Boost makes it possible to adjust your credit score based on these most commonly paid bills.
Again, as I mentioned it’s most useful for those who have bad to fair credit.
How To Join Experian Boost
To join Experian Boost, all you’ll need to do is visit the Experian site and enter your basic information. It’s free to join with no credit card required.
Then you’ll need to link to the payment accounts you use to pay these utility bills. You can’t use Experian Boost if you frequently pay in cash.
It also connects best with major banks such as Chase and Wells Fargo. Below is a tweet from a bank that doesn’t work with the service. So this is something to look out for.
@Experian_US It’s funny how you guys advertise Experian boost but for some strange reason over the thousands upon thousands of banks you service why BMO Harris is not one of them and it’s a major bank!! Explain to me why I cannot add BMO Harris bank or PayPal because!!— TRU ANDIS MASTER. (@lazdabarber) March 2, 2020
Once connected, Experian Boost is going to look for bills that come on a recurring basis, such as once every month, like a utility bill.
It will look for things that look like municipal water/sewer bills, electricity bills, phone bills, and more.
If your billing amounts are often extremely variable, if they aren’t listed under a recognizable name, or if they aren’t paid on time, you may not be able to use Experian Boost effectively.
This is because Experian Boost won’t be able to identify the payments. If the service cannot find your bills, it won’t be able to increase your score.
There’s no appeal process or modification process and you can give Experian feedback, which they will take it into consideration.
Is Experian Boost Safe?
Experian Boost is safe as long as you perform it directly through the Experian site or Experian app.
It does require your financial login information, which you should be cautious with. The good thing is Experian doesn’t store your login information, and it doesn’t store your statements or billing accounts.
Instead, it connects through a secure third-party network and looks for specific transactions. As long as you make sure you’re working directly with Experian, it should be a fairly secure process.
That being said, any time an individual connects one account with another, they should be cautious.
If your account has multi-factor authentication settings, or two-factor authentication with your phone, you may need to turn them off to properly connect, and that could leave your account briefly vulnerable.
Make sure you put your multi-factor or two-factor authentication back on after connecting your accounts.
There’s another way in which Experian could be unsafe. That is if it lowered your credit score, instead of improving it.
But that can’t happen, according to Experian. If you have unpaid utility bills, frequently pay them late, or pay them with late fees attached, Experian won’t dock you points. They just won’t add points to your score.
So having said that, if you’re hoping to improve your credit score, Experian Boost is a good way to do it.
One of the biggest drawbacks for some is that Experian has not been able to automatically identify utility or municipal payments. As a result, while Experian Boost may not hurt an individual, it also may not help them.
This Experian Boost thing isnt working… and its upsetting me and my homegirl— Cristal, like the Champagne (@_CoolStoryCori_) March 5, 2020
The above tweet is from someone who didn’t effectively lower their score with Experian Boost. The service doesn’t work for everyone.
Services Like Experian Boost
TransUnion and Equifax currently don’t offer a similar service as Experian Boost.
There is another service known as UltraFICO, which does calculate utilities in a similar way, but this is a different scoring model.
So it doesn’t impact the score that a lender might see when they pull an Experian, TransUnion, or Equifax score.
Is Experian Boost Legit?
It is definitely a way for people to improve their Experian FICO scores, but whether that’s going to be useful to them all depends. Because it can’t hurt your credit score, it’s certainly not a bad thing to do.
At the time of this review, Experian claims to have boosted over 18 million credit score points across the United States, with a 13-point boost being the average increase that most users saw for their FICO Score 8.
Raising your FICO score is supposed to be instant and easy with Experian Boost. Simply connect your account and let them do the rest.
It’s not perfect and in some cases the system hasn’t identified utility bills for users. But in my opinion it’s worth the try, it’s a relatively safe service, and it’s free to use.