How credit score-boosting services work

In the recent years, there’s been a surge in the number of companies offering consumers the chance to increase their credit score by updating their credit reports with payments made to companies that don’t traditionally report to credit bureaus. 



These payments or accounts that are reported are called self-reported accounts because the consumer initiates the request to have the account reported to the credit bureau. Normally, the initiation would be performed by the creditor.



Self-reported accounts commonly reported by credit score-boosting services

These unreported payments are typically for services like:

  • Utilities, including water and electric
  • Cable and other streaming services, like Netflix and Hulu
  • Cell phone service



How a credit score-boosting service can help

Yes, credit-boosting services can work by doing just what the name implies, but you should do your due diligence before signing up for any particular service.



How credit score-boosting services work

Normally, a company that’s offering to boost a consumer’s credit scores will require that the consumer link his or her bank or credit card account to the service. The company will then scan the consumer’s account to search for accounts that may qualify to be reported. The accounts are then submitted to the consumer’s credit profile. There’s no guarantee on how much the score may increase because there are a number of factors that affect credit scoring. Furthermore, the score-boosting service could actually miss some of your payments. This is typically caused by the  service provider not recognizing the payment as a qualifying payment. 



The downsides to using a credit score-boosting service

There are quite a few downsides to using a service to boost your credit score.




The major issue is privacy as some credit-boosting services require the consumer to keep their bank or credit card account linked to the service. So, even if you only intended to use the service to get one boost and planned to never use the service again to add new accounts, for some services like Experian’s Credit Boost, you’re required to keep the service linked to the credit card or bank account that you’re using to make payment to the self-reported account. This means that the service will have access to your entire purchase history, which consumers might not be comfortable sharing with a credit-boosting service that is only reporting payments for certain services.



Your credit score boost may only be temporary

As mentioned above, Experian’s Credit Boost service, will remove your self-reported account if you keep your bank or credit card account unlinked from the service for a certain amount of time. This will likely result in your score decreasing by at least a few points.



But, there’s a somewhat simple and possibly temporary solution to both the privacy issue and the temporary boost. You could open a new bank account that you only plan to make payments to your unreportable accounts (like streaming services, utilities, and cable service). That bank account could be linked to the credit-boosting services and by doing so, you’d be able to retain access to the services. 



Of course, if your bank account is ever closed, you’re back at square one and your self-reported account will be removed from your credit report.



Lenders that you’re seeking credit from may not utilize the boosted credit score

There are many different credit score models used, including FICO 8, which is the model that Experian submits self-reported accounts to. So, if your lender actually uses any other score, you would not get the benefit of the credit score boost.



The best time to use a credit score-boosting service

It’s still very worthwhile to use a service that aims to increase your credit score. The most advantageous time to do so would be when you want your score to be maximized for a specific occasion, such as  mortgage or other credit application. You would want to ensure that the lender uses the specific scoring model that the credit score-boosting service will report to, though. Because a score boost is not guaranteed, it’s important that you not rely on such services.


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