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Our verdict: Experian BOOST™ is worth it if you have bad credit or a thin credit profile. It’s free and quick, and the average user sees a 13 credit score point boost.
If you are looking to improve your credit, you may have stumbled across Experian BOOST™ and their memorable purple cow ads. But can you actually use this tool to achieve a good credit score?
The Boost service offers you a way to add positive payment history for your utility bills, phone bills, and streaming services to your Experian credit report. Adding this information to your credit file could improve your FICO score.
But is this increase enough to move you from bad credit to good credit or improve your chances of getting approval from a lender/creditor?
How Does Experian BOOST™ Work?
Experian’s Boost tool works by adding your utility bill payments to your Experian credit report. The addition of this payment history helps ‘boost’ your credit score.
To get started, you’ll first need to create an Experian account. But don’t worry, it is entirely free.
It takes about five minutes to set up your account, and when complete, you’ll have access to your free Experian FICO score, a wealth of resources to help you better understand your credit score, and the Boost tool.
To use the Boost tool, you’ll need to provide Experian with either your bank account or credit card account information. Experian then searches through this account to find recurring payments for utilities and services. Per Experian, this can include:
- Mobile and landline phones
- Cable and satellite TV
- Gas and electric
- Power and solar
- Video streaming services
For each utility/service you have appearing on your account, Experian will add up to 2 years worth of positive payment history to your credit report. So if you’ve had the same internet and electricity providers for 2 years, you’ll get 2 years’ worth of payment history for each of them.
As payment history accounts for 35% of your credit score, using Boost can positively impact your credit score.
Advantages of Experian BOOST™
Being able to use your bills to boost your credit score is an excellent opportunity for many consumers. But what are the other advantages of using Boost?
It Is 100% Free
Using the Experian BOOST™ tool is 100% free. Experian will never charge you for utilizing this service.
There are only three requirements for using Boost:
- You need to have an Experian account
- You need to provide your bank or credit card information
- You need to have at least three months of recurring payments (within the last 6 months)
The basic account for Experian is free, and it gives you access to your Experian FICO Score 8, refreshed once every 30 days. You also have access to Boost and many of their credit monitoring resources for free.
Experian does offer an upgraded account for $24.99/month. This premium account gives you access to credit scores for all three major credit bureaus and advanced tools like their score simulator and score planner.
Quick Way to Boost Your Credit Score
Using Experian BOOST™ is probably one of the quickest ways to improve your credit score. It instantaneously adds up to 2 years worth of payment history.
Signing up for an Experian account only takes a few short minutes. And when you sign up for Boost, it will only take Experian a few minutes to go through your account and find eligible payments.
You have a final chance to review which bills Experian will add to your credit report, and once approved, the changes to your credit report and score are instantaneous.
Experian will show you exactly how much the new credit history has improved your score. The increase could range from a few points to a few dozen points.
They Don’t Report Negative Information
One of the biggest upsides to utilizing the Experian BOOST™ tool is that they will never report negative information.
So if you missed an electric payment once or twice in the last two years, it doesn’t matter, Experian will only add your positive payment history to your credit report.
In addition, during the account setup process, you’ll have the option of reviewing and verifying the payment history that Experian wishes to add to your credit report. And later, if you want to remove any of the bills you had reported, you can do so, no questions asked.
Disadvantages of Experian BOOST™
Using your utility bills and similar bills won’t be an ideal way to build credit for all consumers.
Let’s take a look at some of the other deficiencies of the Boost tool when it comes to building credit.
Only Works for Experian
One of the biggest downsides to Experian BOOST™, at least in my opinion, is the limitation of only reporting to Experian.
The payment history you are adding only gets added to your Experian credit report. This means that there is no change to your TransUnion or Equifax credit reports and likewise no change to your credit scores for these bureaus either.
While credit scores between bureaus are never exactly the same, some individuals see their Experian credit score increase by 20+ points using Boost.
By not having this same information reported to all three credit bureaus, your overall credit is not improving as much. And, when you apply for a new loan or credit card, if the lender/creditor doesn’t pull from Experian, then using Boost won’t have helped you at all.
Small Score Increase
When you are trying to improve your credit score, every little bit can help. But, unfortunately, the increase you are likely to receive with Boost is very much on the ‘little’ side.
The average credit score increase, according to Experian, is 13 points. This means that some people will see a higher credit score increase while others will see less. Some individuals may see no credit score increase whatsoever.
This small change to your credit score means that you will need to take additional steps like paying down debt and potentially opening new accounts if you want to see your credit score rise significantly.
Doesn’t Work for Everyone
Experian’s Boost tool will not work for everyone.
Since Boost only looks at building payment history, if you already have 2+ years of perfect payment history, then you are likely to only see a small increase to your score if you have an increase at all.
There are also some specific circumstances where you won’t be able to use the boost tool at all:
- Brand new to credit – if you have no credit history, you won’t be able to sign up and use Boost until you have at least one credit account reporting.
- New utilities – in order to use Boost, you have to have at least three months’ worth of payment history within the last 6 months. So if you just moved or switched providers, your payment history may not be eligible.
- Shared Accounts – if you share utility accounts with a roommate, spouse, or another family member, the account might not be eligible.
Who is Experian BOOST™ Best for?
To answer this question, there are two critical aspects to consider. First, what does your credit file currently look like, and second, why are you trying to improve your credit score?
As we previously discussed, the Boost tool will not work for everyone.
If you already have several years’ worth of perfect payment history, then using Boost might not improve your score at all. So instead, you’ll want to explore the other reasons your credit score might be suffering. I.E., paying down debt if your credit utilization is too high.
Likewise, if you are entirely new to credit, you won’t be able to sign up for Experian BOOST™. Instead, you’ll want to look at other credit-building strategies like opening up a secured credit card or taking out a credit builder loan.
Reporting your rent to the credit bureaus is another great tactic for people with new credit.
The reason why you are trying to build credit is equally important. For example, if you are building credit to qualify for a mortgage, you might as well just skip using Boost.
When determining creditworthiness for a mortgage, the scoring models the banks use do not include utility payments. So even if Boost increases your credit score, it will have zero impact on your mortgage application.
It is also important to consider that Boost only works on your Experian report, and any financing you’re seeking could pull a different report or scoring model than Experian BOOST™ uses.
Considering all of this, the ideal candidate for Experian BOOST™ is:
- Someone with a thin credit file (only one or two credit accounts reporting)
- Someone with late payments
- Someone looking to get better financing or get approved for a better credit card or auto loan
Is Experian BOOST™ Legit?
Yes. The Boost tool is offered by Experian, one of the three big names in consumer credit reporting.
This credit reporting agency has been around for more than 20 years and is a trusted name to lenders and creditors. They also have an A- rating on the BBB website.
The BBB posted reviews on Experian are admittedly low, although many of these reviews have to do with not understanding credit or annoyance at receiving spammy credit card offers.
Experian BOOST™ is a legit resource, one that has the ability to improve your Experian credit score. But only your Experian credit score and only certain scoring models.
And in order to provide this service to consumers for free, Experian makes money from their upgraded subscriptions and through credit card referrals.
Is It Safe?
Using Boost is 100% safe, or at least as close as you can get to 100% in our digital age.
Experian views your bank account info in a ‘read-only’ mode that allows them only to search for recurring payments. Experian will also double-check to ensure that the personal info (i.e., name and date of birth) on the bank account matches your Experian account.
And if you are still worried, Experian offers you a host of identity protection features, including credit locking, dark web monitoring, social security monitoring, and more.
And if you are willing to upgrade your account to a premium subscription, you can get access to additional identity protection tools as well as $1 million in identity theft insurance.
Does Experian BOOST™ Hurt Credit?
Generally speaking, no, Experian BOOST™ cannot hurt your credit score.
Since Boost will never report any missed payments (or other negative information), utilizing the resource cannot negatively impact the payment history portion of your credit score.
If you already have decent payment history on your Experian credit report, then using Boost could result in a credit score increase of zero.
There is also the possibility that your length of credit history can be negatively affected. The most likely scenario would be that your current average age of account was 2+ years, and the payment history added was only a few months old.
This could drop your average age of the account, thereby dropping your score.
The good news is that you can always disconnect your bank account, which will remove this payment history and return your credit score to its previous value.
- How to Add Utility Bills to Your Credit Report
- Does Paying Utilities Build Credit?
- What Cell Phone Companies Report to Credit Bureaus?
- Does a Cell Phone Bill Build Credit?
- What Bills Help Build Credit
- How To Get a Free Tradeline
- Grow Credit Review
Amanda Garland is a personal finance blogger living in Dallas, TX. 10 years ago she was living paycheck to paycheck and knew nothing about how credit works. She learned some hard lessons in her fight for financial stability. Now she has a friendly competition going with her husband to see who can reach a credit score of 850 first. She is also a poet, having obtained a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Creative Writing.