No credit history? A new Experian tool lets you build a report with utility and streaming bills

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Experian, one of the big three credit bureaus, has launched a new feature on its app that allows consumers with "invisible" credit histories to build a credit report, using transactions not typically included in scoring.

Experian says its new program, Experian Go, targets the nearly 50 million consumers who have a nonexistent or limited credit history. This includes college students, but also a disproportionate share of people of color, as one in five Black consumers and one-third of Hispanic consumers don't have credit in their name, according to a recent Experian survey.

By making consistent on-time payments for bills like utilities or even a Netflix subscription, consumers would be able to build up a credit history that helps their credit score. A higher credit score helps consumers qualify for things like credit cards, loans and apartment rentals and for loans and financing at lower rates.

The trade-off is that Experian users have to provide valuable personal information and will likely receive "recommendations" for other products that they won't necessarily need, like credit monitoring. 

How Experian Go works

If you're interested in the program, you can sign up for a free account here. When creating a new account, you'll be asked to authenticate your identity using a government-issued ID, Social Security number and a photo of your face.

Technically, there are two parts to how this all works: Experian Boost and Experian Go. Launched in 2019, Experian Boost let's you add cell phone, utility or video streaming bill payments directly to your Experian credit report. Experian Go allows users to create new credit reports from scratch, and offers personalized recommendations for which accounts to add, using Experian Boost.

There's no difference between an Experian Go-generated report and the traditional reports that Experian already offers, according to a company spokesperson: "To a lender, it will look just like any other Experian credit report."

Based on the results of a targeted soft launch of Experian Go in October, Experian says that 15,000 users were able build a credit report within minutes. The company says that for those that used Experian Boost, the average starting FICO Score was 665, which is considered a "fair" score. Experian did not immediately respond to a request for additional information.

For more on how to improve your credit score, check out this CNBC Make It article.

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