How Paying Bills Like Netflix Can Increase Your Credit Score

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KEY POINTS

  • The most common bills that count toward your credit score are credit cards, car loans, student loans, and mortgage loans.
  • Experian Boost is a free service that gives you credit for paying utility bills, cell phone bills, and even streaming services such as Netflix.
  • Those with limited credit history as well as those with poor to fair credit scores tend to see the biggest benefit from the service.


This free service can help you boost your credit score.

Your credit score is one of the most important financial numbers in your life. Financial institutions use it to determine whether you qualify for a loan or a credit card, as well as your interest rate. Your score can also determine how much you pay for your insurance premiums and many employers and landlords pull your credit as part of the screening process.

With so much at stake, it is important to constantly maintain a good credit score. There are three different major credit reporting agencies -- Experian®, TransUnion® and Equifax® -- that maintain a record of your credit history. This is also known as your credit report. Your FICO Score (Fair Isaac Corporation) is based on the information in your credit report and consists of the following:

  • 35% Record of paying bills on time
  • 30% Amount owed
  • 15% Credit history
  • 10% Credit mix
  • 10% Recent credit inquiries

In order to get a FICO score, you will need six months of credit history to assess your creditworthiness. The most common bills that count toward your credit score are credit cards, car loans, student loans, and mortgages. Typically, your payments for your cell phone, utilities, and other monthly payments that you make do not impact your credit score. So if you have limited credit history or don’t have any loans or credit cards, how can you improve your score?

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Get credit for regular monthly bills

Experian, one of the three credit bureaus, has recently launched a program called Experian Boost. It can give you credit for making payments for your phone bills, utilities, and certain streaming services. The service is free and to get started, you connect the bank account you use to pay your bills to Experian Boost. If you already have an account with Experian, you can add this service under Reports and Scores.

Experian then searches your bank transactions to find on-time qualifying payments to add to your Experian credit file. Popular bills that work with Experian Boost are Netflix, Disney Plus, Hulu, HBO, AT&T, Spectrum, and Verizon. You must make payments using your bank account. Bills need at least three months of payments within a six month window to qualify for Experian Boost. The service does not count payments made with a credit card.

By adding the payment history for these types of bills, you are able to build a positive payment history. Since payment history is the biggest factor in determining your credit score, these records can help boost your credit instantly. Experian Boost only uses on-time payment histories on these accounts, so late payments will not lower your credit score. Another factor that determines your credit score is the length of your credit history. These additional accounts can improve your score by showing more proof of active accounts and positive payment history. So far, over 4 million Americans have used this service.

Who should use this service?

If you have little to no credit history or you have an established history and are looking to raise your credit score, then this service can be helpful. Anyone can sign up for this service, but those with limited credit history as well as those with poor to fair credit scores tend to see the biggest benefit. According to Experian, 87% of people with very poor scores saw an increase and 63% of people with a fair score saw an increase. But not everyone will see an improved score.

According to Experian, the average user who received a boost improved their credit score by 13 points. One important thing to consider is that your credit score is calculated based on the FICO Score 8 model. But financial institutions use many different credit scoring models. Since lenders and insurers you deal with may use a different FICO Score than the FICO Score 8, Experian Boost may or may not benefit you.

Given that this is a free service, if you pay a utility, telecom, or Netflix bill with your bank account, Experian Boost may be worth considering. While it may not boost your score for all financial institutions, many use this FICO score since Experian is one of the three main credit bureaus. Those enrolled in the program also get a free Experian CreditWorks Basic membership, which offers services such as credit monitoring and a free FICO Score. It is important to be on top of your score and look for ways to improve it. Experian Boost can help, but you must still continue to make on-time payments and take into account the other factors that make up your credit score.

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