How to Improve Your Credit Score Fast for Free in April 2022

How to Improve Your Credit Score Fast for Free in April 2022

Summary

Experian Boost allows your positive history of paying utility and phone bills to be included on your Experian credit report and factored into your FICO score or VantageScore. Read on to find out how it works and when you can expect to see your credit score benefit from it.

My second Experian Boost

Fast forward to June 2020, and I’d moved again. My Experian app sent me a notification that it was time for me to check my updated score. I did—it went from 645 to 648. I was about to close the app and try to be excited about my 3-point gain, when I noticed that Experian was asking whether I wanted to confirm new utility payments it found on my bank account eligible for Boost. Of course I did!

I had been paying my utilities for over three months now, so they could count toward my FICO score with Boost. I confirmed the payments and raised my score by 9 extra points to 657.

That felt wonderful. Gradually, my FICO score was climbing higher and higher. And one credit limit increase, one credit card upgrade and one new credit card later (thanks, CardMatch!), I  got to 667 this January.

I was getting so close to good credit.

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Inquire About a Higher Credit Limit

You should always aim to have low credit utilization. This means you’re using less than 30% of your available credit. If you can’t pay down debt right now, then you can always contact your credit card or loan issuers and ask for a higher limit. This will improve a credit score quickly without you having to spend money or put in more than a few minutes of your time.

What Is Experian Boost™

On-time payment history is the most important factor in your credit score accounting for 35% of your total credit score, followed by credit utilization which makes up 30% of your credit score. This product allows consumers to add additional on-time payments to their Experian credit report by linking their bank account. Additional on-time payment history can help increase your credit score.

Using Experian Boost to boost your credit scores isn’t complicated. The first thing you’ll need to do is connect the account that you use to pay your qualifying utility, cell phone and video streaming service payments. After connecting the bank account, users can choose which positive payment histories from these services to add to their Experian credit report.  If applicable, you may see the results of Experian Boost instantly.

Those most likely to benefit have “thin” credit histories, meaning they don’t have many credit accounts to report on-time payments to their credit report. According to Experian’s website, average users who received a boost improved their FICO Score based on Experian Data by 13 points. Remember that results may vary, and are dependent on factors like your existing credit profile.

Read More: What Is a Good Credit Score?

Is Experian Boost Legal?

You might wonder if all of this is legal. Can Experian expect you to give them access to your bank history so they can see your payment records?  

Rest assured that Boost is 100% legal. The service is optional.  You do not have to participate.  As for their access to your records, that’s Experian’s entire business model. They are a consumer reporting agency.  Every time a credit card company or lender has sent Experian information about you, you have given them permission to do so (probably in the fine print when applying for a new credit card or loan, which few of us ever read).

What Goes Into a Credit Score

Adding on-time bill payments can be very beneficial to your overall credit profile.

Payment history makes up a big chunk of your credit score. But it isn’t the only factor.

The five factors that influence credit scoring includes:

  • Payment history (35 percent of your credit score). The more on-time payments that appear on your credit report, the better your credit score. Keep in mind, though, you’re also penalized for past due payments. One benefit of using Experian Boost is that it only searches your bank account for “on-time payments.” So if you’ve missed a few utility payments or cell phone payments, these late payments will not hurt your score.
  • Amount owed (30 percent of your credit score). Although you need credit to build credit, it’s important to keep your debt low. Especially revolving debt (credit cards). This debt impacts your credit score differently than installment loans.
  • Length of credit history (15 percent of your credit score). Credit scores improve over time. So a person with 20 years of responsible credit history will have a higher score than someone with only five years of responsible credit history.
  • Credit mix (10 percent of your credit score). Building a strong, healthy score often requires diversifying your accounts. This includes having a mix of credit cards, mortgage loans, car loans, and other installment loans
  • New credit (10 percent of your credit score). Opening too many credit accounts in a short span of time can hurt your credit score. Each new application reduces your credit score by a few points.

How Experian Boost Can Help

Experian Boost is designed to help the 62 million Americans who have “thin credit files”. Credit bureaus need information to establish your creditworthiness, and they need payment history to do that.    

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

Is Experian Boost safe to use?

Whether Experian Boost will actually help your credit may vary. Even if it doesn't help you, however, Experian Boost will not hurt your credit score.

For one thing, Experian Boost looks at your banking data, not your credit history. This means there is no credit inquiry. Plus, Experian Boost only includes on-time payments, which add positive payment history. So, that bill you paid three days late last year won't be included.

That being said, it's important to keep in mind that failing to pay your utility or other bills can hurt your credit score. But that would happen whether you use Experian Boost or not.

If you fall behind by more than 60 days, your provider can report your account as delinquent to the credit bureaus. Payment history is 35% of your FICO® Score. As such, late payments can severely damage your credit. Additionally, negative items, like late payments, can stay on your credit reports for up to seven years.

Downsides of Experian Boost™

Though Experian Boost is a great feature for consumers who might not have a strong credit file, it isn’t perfect. Here are a few downsides of the feature:

  • If you’re a long-time avid credit card user who charges everything for the rewards points and pays your bill on time and in full, Experian Boost may not be very beneficial. Your credit history already includes the payment history from your credit card payments (which are reported by the card issuer). Adding a few more on-time payments is unlikely to have a large impact on your credit scores. Experian Boost is most beneficial for users who do not have a very robust credit file.
  • Lenders might be using a version of a FICO Score or a different credit scoring model that doesn’t work with Experian Boost. There’s no guarantee that using Experian Boost will increase your odds of approval for a specific credit product from a specific lender.
  • Experian Boost looks at cell phone, utility and service payments. It would be more helpful if it could include rent payments as well. It is possible to get rent payments added to your credit report, though—here’s how.
  • As Experian itself points out, adding utility payments to its records won’t affect what’s in your files with the two other major credit bureaus–Equifax and TransUnion. So depending on which bureau a prospective lender or credit card issuer uses, Experian Boost may not help you get approved.

When It Doesn’t Really Help?

But although Experian Boost can increase your credit score, the service doesn’t help everyone

Remember:

This service is only offered through Experian.

So, on-time utility and cell phone payments will only appear on your Experian credit report

The inclusion of these payments on your credit file is only beneficial when future creditors pull your Experian credit report. Or, when they pull your score from credit scoring models that recognize Experian data—FICO (FICO 8 and 9) and VantageScore (3.0 and 4.0).

There are three major credit bureaus, the other two being Equifax and TransUnion.

Some creditors and lenders pull all three credit reports when reviewing credit applications. But others only pull one report. 

So if you improve your Experian credit file, yet a lender reviews your TransUnion credit file, Experian Boost isn’t going to help.

Be mindful that Boost scans your bank account (either your checking or savings account) to look for qualifying on-time payment.

So the service also doesn’t help if you make your cell phone payments or utility payments with a credit card.

FAQs

  • Yes, Experian Boost is safe to use. Boost only adds on-time payments to your credit report, so it cannot hurt your credit score.

  • How well Experian Boost works will depend on your existing credit history. If you have little or no credit history, you could see a large impact from Boost. However, if you already have good credit, you will likely see much smaller — if any — impact.

  • The best way to improve your credit scores is to use credit responsibly. This means making all of your debt payments on time and keeping your credit card balances low. A simple method to establish and build credit is with a credit card. Use the credit card to pay a small monthly bill, such as a streaming service. Then, set up automatic payments through your bank so your credit card is paid in full and on time every month. This will build your positive payment history. Choose a credit card with no annual fee. If you can't qualify for an unsecured card, try a secured credit card.

Bottom line

Consumer credit advocates love Experian Boost, and there’s more good news: Experian also has RentBureau, which can enable you to report rent payments on your credit report. Additionally, with the new UltraFICO score, you can get credit for good money management and saving habits. With all these ways to boost your score, you shouldn’t have much trouble making one work.

Editorial Disclaimer

The editorial content on this page is based solely on the objective assessment of our writers and is not driven by advertising dollars. It has not been provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. However, we may receive compensation when you click on links to products from our partners.

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