By Rebecca Heilweil
A bad credit rating can lead to stifling interest rates or a complete lack of access to credit. To help meet this challenge, Experian ー a leading consumer credit reporting company that reports on more than 220 million American consumers ー offers a new solution: to include monthly payments for daily services, such as telephone, electricity and utility bills, in the scores of credit applicants.
The initiative, called Boost America, also has a familiar face as an ambassador: Hill Harper, an author and actor known for his role in the ABC drama, “The Good Doctor.”
“If you are a millennial, if you have a thin file, if you are at risk, even if you have good credit, adding more lanes to your file is beneficial because it 1) gives you more history of credit, and 2) it thickens your credit report, ”Harper told Cheddar. “Equitable and inclusive access to credit is one of the biggest problems we have in this country today.”
Building credit is a long-standing challenge: you want to know that you will have the money to pay off the debt you have accumulated. Experian’s Boost America program can make this process a little easier by considering the bills you are already paying ー that traditionally have not been factored into credit scores ー as part of your credit history, increasing potentially your score.
“It’s a change in the algorithm that allows this information to come in,” Harper said. “Now it allows you to interact with your credit score. To date, Experian reports that the program has helped increase a total of three million credit points.
Harper is well versed in finance and credit. He has written several financial and motivational books, including “The Wealth Cure,” a New York Times bestseller that promotes a holistic approach to wealth creation that goes beyond financial stability. “It’s a little different from the books by Suze Orman or Dave Ramsey,” he said.
Harper said he found the theater while playing football for Brown and needed a class that would fit his athletics schedule. He went on to earn two degrees at Harvard and also befriended former President Barack Obama.
Harper attributes his overall success to “the people who told me there was nothing I couldn’t do, but who also gave me the resources to empower myself.”
“I felt if I could actually take some of the gifts that were given to me, and empower people, help build wealth, that would be a good thing,” he said.