Improve your credit score for free: Experian Boost review | CNN Underscored (2024)

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Having a good credit score is important, since a strong score can give you access to the very best loans, mortgages and credit cards. But what if your credit score isn’t very good? Or you have a limited history with credit? Lenders can be reluctant to approve people with poor credit scores for new credit cards or loans, which makes it even harder to build — or rebuild — your credit history.

While there are a lot of “credit repair” companies that claim to fix your credit, they can be expensive, and it’s not always clear which ones have a less than stellar track record. However, there’s a relatively new way to potentially increase your credit scores in just a few minutes — and it’s free.

The feature is called Experian Boost™*, and it’s definitely legit. In fact, Experian® is one of the three main credit reporting agencies in the U.S. and has been in business for over 20 years, so it has a lot of experience with credit scores. But does Experian Boost actually improve your FICO® Score**, which is utilized by many of the country’s top lenders? Let’s take a look.

Click here to sign up for a free Experian Boost account.

What is Experian Boost?

Improve your credit score for free: Experian Boost review | CNN Underscored (1)

Experian Boost is designed to help give people credit where credit is due. By providing your information to Experian, you can get credit for on-time payments that aren’t normally part of your credit history, such as utility, telecom, cable and even some streaming service payments like Hulu and Netflix.

On-time payments account for 35% of your FICO Score, so if you’ve been on the ball in paying your utility bills, phone bills and even your Netflix streaming service payments each month, you can add them to your credit report and potentially boost your FICO Score***.

When you access Experian Boost, it allows you to connect your checking, savings and other bank or credit card accounts that you use to pay your monthly bills so that your payment history can be added to your Experian credit file.

As long as you have at least three consecutive months of payments within the last six months from the same account, Experian Boost will pick up positive payment activity and add it to your Experian credit file. Best of all, it won’t report negative payments — only those that were paid on time.

Improve your credit score for free: Experian Boost review | CNN Underscored (2)

Experian Boost keeps you informed as it searches for potential payments that can improve your credit scores.

How does Experian Boost work?

The Boost process is quite easy and takes just a few minutes. After creating an Experian account, you then link your financial institutions where you maintain your checking, savings or other bank or credit card accounts that you use to pay your bills, and enter your login credentials to seamlessly link them.

If you have multiple accounts at the same financial institution, Experian allows you to select which accounts you want included so you can just add the accounts you use to pay your bills.

Once you’ve linked your accounts, Experian will automatically go through all your recent transactions and identify payments that qualify to be added to your Experian credit file, such as utility bills. It then shows you a list of eligible bills and allows you to select which ones you want to add to your report.

Improve your credit score for free: Experian Boost review | CNN Underscored (3)

Experian Boost keeps you informed as it searches for potential payments that can improve your credit scores.

Make your selections and within moments, Experian Boost factors in the new information and shows you your new (hopefully improved) FICO Score. Since Experian Boost doesn’t include missed payments, your FICO Score won’t go down, but it might not change if there either isn’t enough information from the added accounts or your FICO Score is already relatively high.

Even if it doesn’t make a difference to your FICO Score, the process is as easy as it sounds and literally costs nothing. And once you have it all set up, Experian Boost will continue to monitor your payments and may increase your credit scores if future payments make a difference.

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Does Experian Boost actually improve your FICO Score?

It depends. According to Experian, US users have boosted their FICO Scores by close to 45 million points, and the average FICO Score has increased 12 points when using Experian Boost. Those with little to no credit history and those with very poor to fair credit generally see the biggest FICO Score increases.

We tried Experian Boost ourselves and found the process to be very straightforward, but we didn’t see any increase in our credit scores. That’s likely because the CNN Underscored reviewers who tried it already pay their bills on time and have high credit scores to begin with.

Improve your credit score for free: Experian Boost review | CNN Underscored (4)

Our reviewers didn't see any change to our FICO Score with Experian Boost, but people with little to no credit history and those with very poor to fair credit generally see the biggest increases.

But people who pay their bills through their bank account and don’t have a longstanding credit card or loan history may see a bigger impact. That’s because you’ll start to fill in your “payment history” component of your FICO Score, which is one of the most important factors in a credit score.

What are the disadvantages of Experian Boost?

There aren’t really any true disadvantages of Experian Boost — the worst that can happen is it doesn’t change your FICO Score. It doesn’t cost anything, and it won’t hurt your credit, so the only thing you might lose is a few minutes of your time to set it up. The Experian membership also provides your FICO Score for free on an ongoing basis, which is useful to have as you work to improve your credit rating.

However, there are a few caveats to keep in mind. First, Experian Boost only adds these positive payments to your Experian Credit Report — it can’t add any information to reports from other credit agencies like Equifax or TransUnion. So if you apply for a credit card and the lender pulls your credit report from another bureau, the lender won’t see boosted credit scores.

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You’ll also find that the tool doesn’t work for bills that aren’t in your name, even if you contribute to them. For example, if you live with roommates and send your portion of the gas bill to your roommate via Venmo or PayPal, or give them a check or cash, Experian Boost won’t pick up those payments.

Finally, some people aren’t comfortable providing their bank login to a third party. According to Experian, when you use Experian Boost, Experian only uses your bank credentials to capture your ongoing positive payments and identify any potential new boosts.

For additional protection, Experian also makes sure the name and address on your bank account matches what’s on your Experian membership profile. Still, if you’re concerned about privacy, you might decide that the upside of Experian Boost isn’t worth handing over your personal information.

Should you try Experian Boost?

Frankly, yes, especially if your credit scores could use some help. Not everyone’s FICO Score will increase with Experian Boost, but the service is free, and it only takes a few minutes to enter your information and connect your accounts. There’s very little downside to using the feature, and you can always remove the added payment history from your Experian credit file down the line if you want.

The best way to permanently improve your credit scores is to methodically whittle down your debt by paying your loans, mortgages and credit card bills on time every month. But that process can take time, so in the interim, try potentially giving your credit scores a little boost for free with Experian Boost.

Click here to sign up for a free Experian Boost account.

*Results may vary. Some may not see improved scores or approval odds. Not all lenders use Experian credit files, and not all lenders use scores impacted by Experian Boost.

**Credit score calculated based on FICO® Score 8 model. Your lender or insurer may use a different FICO Score than FICO Score 8, or another type of credit score altogether. Learn more.

***Experian and the Experian trademarks used herein are trademarks or registered trademarks of Experian and its affiliates. The use of any other trade name, copyright or trademark is for identification and reference purposes only and does not imply any association with the copyright or trademark holder of their product or brand. Other product and company names mentioned herein are the property of their respective owners.

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Improve your credit score for free: Experian Boost review | CNN Underscored (2024)


Does Experian boost really raise your credit score? ›

Yes, if you receive a score increase when you add payments with Experian Boost, the increase will happen instantly. Any lender that uses the FICO® Score 8 with Experian data will see that change reflected in score results. Users of Experian Boost whose scores improve see an average FICO® Score increase of 13 points.

How accurate is the free Experian credit score? ›

Credit scores from the three main bureaus (Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion) are considered accurate. The accuracy of the scores depends on the accuracy of the information provided to them by lenders and creditors.

How can I raise my credit score 200 points in 30 days? ›

Try paying debts and maintaining your credit utilisation ratio of 30% or below. There are two ways through which you can pay off your debts, which are as follows: Start paying off older accounts from lowest to highest outstanding balances. Start paying off based on the highest to lowest rate of interest.

How to check free credit score legit? ›

Avoid Other Sites Offering Free Credit Reports

You might see companies and sites offering free credit reports, but there's only one authorized place to get the free annual credit reports you're entitled to by law:

Is there a downside to Experian Boost? ›

Experian Boost works best for those with no credit, bad credit or thin credit files. The main drawback is that it only works for your Experian credit report and has no effect on our Equifax and Transunion reports.

How can I raise my credit score 100 points overnight? ›

10 Ways to Boost Your Credit Score
  1. Review Your Credit Report. ...
  2. Pay Your Bills on Time. ...
  3. Ask for Late Payment Forgiveness. ...
  4. Keep Credit Card Balances Low. ...
  5. Keep Old Credit Cards Active. ...
  6. Become an Authorized User. ...
  7. Consider a Credit Builder Loan. ...
  8. Take Out a Secured Credit Card.

Which score is more accurate, FICO or Experian? ›

Simply put, there is no “more accurate” score when it comes down to receiving your score from the major credit bureaus.

What credit score is needed to buy a house? ›

You'll typically need a credit score of 620 to finance a home purchase. However, some lenders may offer mortgage loans to borrowers with scores as low as 500. Whether you qualify for a specific loan type also depends on personal factors like your debt-to-income ratio (DTI), loan-to-value ratio (LTV) and income.

Is Experian your real FICO score? ›

FICO, Experian, and Equifax all provide information on individuals' credit habits for the use of lenders. FICO provides just a numerical credit score, based on an individual's payment habits and the amount of debt that they carry. Credit bureaus like Experian and Equifax offer detailed credit histories on individuals.

Can I buy a house with a 515 credit score? ›

The lowest credit score typically required to buy a house is 500 with an FHA loan, which requires the borrower to make a 10% down payment. For credit scores of 580 or higher, a 3.5% down payment is sufficient.

How long does it take to build credit from 500 to 700? ›

The time it takes to raise your credit score from 500 to 700 can vary widely depending on your individual financial situation. On average, it may take anywhere from 12 to 24 months of responsible credit management, including timely payments and reducing debt, to see a significant improvement in your credit score.

What credit score is needed to buy a car? ›

The credit score required and other eligibility factors for buying a car vary by lender and loan terms. Still, you typically need a good credit score of 661 or higher to qualify for an auto loan. About 69% of retail vehicle financing is for borrowers with credit scores of 661 or higher, according to Experian.

What site gives you your real credit score? ›

Credit Karma is one of the most popular sites in the free credit score market. Users get two free scores and reports, and the site offers additional calculators and educational tools. Credit Karma also offers daily score updates.

What app gives you your real credit score? ›

With myFICO, you can view and monitor your FICO Scores and credit reports right from your fingertips. You'll get alerts on your iOS device when changes are detected. Certain features are available only with eligible myFICO subscriptions. Learn more at

What is the best site to get a free credit report? ›

Don't be fooled by look-alikes. Lots of sites promise credit reports for free. is the only official site explicitly directed by Federal law to provide them.

Do lenders consider Experian boost? ›

Experian Boost impacts multiple credit scoring models, so as long as your lender utilizes the most common versions of the FICO® Score and VantageScore®, they will see your boosted credit scores when they request your credit report from Experian.

Do lenders use Experian boost? ›

Not all lenders use Experian credit files, and not all lenders use scores impacted by Experian Boost®. Some users may not receive an improved score or approval odds with Boost.

Is Experian boost or credit karma more accurate? ›

Experian vs. Credit Karma: Which is more accurate for your credit score? You may be surprised to know that the simple answer is that both are accurate. Read on to find out what's different between the two companies, how they get your credit score, and why you have more than one credit score to begin with.

What increases credit score most? ›

Impact: Highly influential. Your record of paying bills on time is the largest scoring factor in both FICO and VantageScore credit scoring systems. Time commitment: Low. Prevent missed payments by setting up account reminders and considering automatic payments to cover at least the minimum.


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