Posted by: Howard Dvorkin, CPA
Date of post: September 29, 2020

Experian Boost will now reward you for watching Netflix. Expect others to follow

Starting now, you can shelter in place and watch your credit score take off. And if you own a business that relies on your personal credit score, this is good news in a bad-news economic climate.

Experian Boost, a free year-old service that’s helped millions of Americans improve their credit scores, recently announced that its members can add video streaming payment history to their Experian credit reports.

So if you pay for Netflix, Disney Plus, or any other streaming services – and if you pay your bills on time – that information will now be reflected in your payment history. That’s good news for quarantined Americans, who since March are watching more online subscription content than ever before. According to Neilsen, the measurement firm known for its TV rankings, online streaming is up 85 percent over this time last year.

“There is no doubt the pandemic has had an impact on the financial health of consumers,” says Jeff Softley, an executive with Experian Consumer Services. “By giving consumers greater control, Experian Boost and our new finance tools help consumers not only gain access to quality credit but also help millions of Americans with broader financial recovery.”

What is Boost?

Since launching in 2019, Experian Boost has already let its members register on-time payments of utility and telecom bills as factors for raising their credit scores. With the addition of streaming services, the only question is: Who’s next? >

Experian Boost works by linking to your bank account and finding payments that can “boost”your credit score with Experian, one of the Big Three credit bureaus. Unfortunately, Boost doesn’t work with the other two, Equifax and TransUnion, but Experian says 2 out of 3 members saw their FICO scores rise by an average of 10 points almost immediately. 

Experian claims more than four million Americans have signed up, and they’ve earned an extra 29 million points combined.

Best of all, Boost is safe because it has “read only” access to your accounts, so it can’t alter what it sees. Experian charges nothing for Boost, and the only catch is a common one: Once you’re in their portal, you’ll be hit up with offers for other Experian services. Just like all those ads you see in Gmail and on websites, my advice is the same: Stick to the free service, you don’t need to buy anything extra.

What’s next?

It probably won’t be long before all three credit bureaus pick up what Experian started. The credit bureaus resemble airlines: When one raises fares or offers new amenities like free Wi-Fi, the others tend to do the same in short order. So it’s only a matter of time before Equifax and TransUnion give you credit for being a couch potato. Why? Because it’s in everyone’s best interest for credit scores to be accurate and inclusive. That’s why credit scores are constantly being tweaked.

There’s also a trickle-down effect. The more credit scores expand their reach, the better it is for entrepreneurs. The best entrepreneurs innovate, and one of their biggest frustrations are arbitrary and restrictive rules that keep them from stretching every dollar. If the Big Three credit bureaus take into account more data points, it means entrepreneurs have more opportunities to creatively use those to maximize their businesses.

So now back to the couch…