It seems like everyone is always looking for ways to earn better credit scores. It’s a smart move, as solid credit pays off in a number of ways, from better interest rates on mortgage loans to lower insurance premiums. If you’re looking for some “low hanging fruit” in the credit score improvement department, you may want to check out Experian Boost.
The new program allows you to add information about utility and telecom accounts to your Experian credit report, which in turn will be considered by new FICO scores and VantageScore credit scores. The result could be a higher credit score.
Here’s How Experian Boost Works
Experian Boost is powered by technology developed by a company named Finicity. Through Finicity, the Boost service will screen scrape your online bank account for information about how you’ve paid your utility and telecom accounts over the previous 24 months. For the pay history to be added it has to have been paid via a draft of your bank account.
Types of accounts that might be added to your credit report via the Boost program include:
• Mobile phone accounts
• Cable/satellite TV service
• Public utility accounts
In the past, standard utility accounts were not included on your credit reports maintained by the Big 3 credit bureaus (Experian, Equifax and TransUnion). The only way a utility account would appear on a credit report was in the form of a third-party collection account, which could have a negative impact on your credit score.
What You Should Know About Experian Boost
Experian Boost is unique in that it lets consumers do something that has never been done before, which is that YOU choose to add information to your own credit report. Prior to Boost, the only way account information was added to your credit reports was if it was reported or “furnished” by a financial services company or a debt collector.
If you have a credit score below 680, there’s a good chance you could see a score increase. (Experian says 75 percent of consumers with a FICO Score below 680 saw a credit score improvement by opting into Boost.)
The option to have more control over your own credit reports is an encouraging sign for consumers. But there are a few things you should know about Boost before you opt in to use the service.
- You must grant access to your online bank account(s). That means you’ll be asked to provide your username and password.
- Experian Boost, as the name suggests, only works with your Experian credit report.
Boost may not be a perfect solution to everyone’s credit problems, but there’s no denying that it has some noteworthy features and benefits, including:
- Only positive utility information is added to your Experian credit report. Negative utility data is ignored.
- You can change your mind and delete the information at any time.
Should You Use Experian Boost?
Even though you can now add utility style accounts to your Experian credit report, you may be wondering whether you should. Here are a few pros and cons that might help with your decision.
|If you have a credit score below 680, there’s a good chance you could see a score increase. (Experian says 75 percent of consumers with a FICO Score below 680 saw a credit score improvement by opting into Boost.)||Not everyone will see a credit score increase from using Experian Boost. If your credit score is already in good shape, your odds of experiencing a score increase may be lower. This author’s credit score went from 804 to 809. Not great, but better than nothing.|
|Boost has the potential to improve any Experian-based credit score that considers utility data. This includes newer credit scoring models built by FICO and all versions of the VantageScore credit score.||Boost only works with Experian-based credit scores. If you apply for a loan and the lender checks a non-Experian score, you're out of luck.|
|Experian Boost allows you personally to add information to your own credit report. This noteworthy move by Experian gives consumers more control over the credit reporting process than they’ve ever had before. And, you can always change your mind and have the information removed.||You must give permission to allow Experian and Finicity access to your bank account data, including your username and password. Although there’s nothing to suggest that the process is unsafe, you should at least be cognizant of the process.|
Only you can decide whether or not to give Experian Boost a try. However, the service is pretty low risk and there’s little downside. Experian Boost also gives you the opportunity to back out and remove the data later, if you change your mind.