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Experian Smart Money™ Debit Card
4.7
★★★★★
Finder score
Fee
$0 per month
Minimum deposit to open
$0

Our verdict

This credit bureau offers a free digital checking account that works with its credit-building feature.

The Experian Smart Money Digital Checking account has no monthly fees, no minimum balance requirements, no overdraft fees and is FDIC-insured through Community Federal Savings Bank. You’ll also get access to over 55,000 free ATMs nationwide through Allpoint’s ATM network. The account works in tandem with its credit-building feature called Experian Boost, which is the reporting service that allows you to report recurring bills to improve your credit history. And when you set up direct deposits, you’ll get early paychecks and a $50 bonus if those deposits are at least $1,000 within 45 days of opening. But if you want to use this account to build credit history through Boost, you’ll have to start paying the bills you want reported with this digital account.

Best for: Those who want to build credit and a free checking account.

Pros

  • $0 monthly fees and no balance requirements
  • No overdrafts permitted
  • $50 bonus to be earned
  • Works in tandem with Experian Boost

Cons

  • No physical branches
  • No savings account to pair with

In this guide

  • Our verdict
  • Your reviews
  • Ask a question

Who is Experian Smart Money best for?

The Experian Smart Money account is best for someone who wants to monitor their Experian credit report, get a free checking account and also work on building their credit history.

What we like about Experian Smart Money

The Experian Smart Money Digital Checking account is free to open and maintain, which is always a plus. There are no balance requirements and no overdraft fees to worry about because the account doesn’t allow overdrafts.

You’ll get a virtual card immediately upon opening, and you can order a physical Experian Smart Money Debit Card after you’ve deposited money into the account. There’s also an early direct deposit, up to two days, and if you deposit at least $1,000 in direct deposits within 45 days of opening the account, you’ll get a $50 bonus.

While Experian isn’t a bank and doesn’t have physical branches, it partners with Allpoint’s ATM network to give you access to over 55,000 nationwide ATMs for free. However, Experian won’t reimburse you for out-of-network ATM fees, costing $3 for out-of-network withdrawals.

Overall, Smart Money is a simple, no-frills checking account.

Automatically linked with Experian Boost

Experian Boost is a credit reporting service by the credit bureau Experian. This service is automatically connected to the Smart Money Digital Checking Account. Boost allows you to add recurring bill payments to your Experian credit file to bolster your credit history and possibly improve your credit score. Some monthly bills you can add with Experian Boost include utilities, streaming services and online rent payments.

To benefit from Experian Boost, you’ll have to start using the Smart Money account to pay your bills, and from there, Boost scans your bank account for eligible bills to be added to your Experian credit file.

It’s also important to note that you don’t need to get the Smart Money Digital Checking Account to use Experian Boost — you can simply create a free Experian membership, link an external bank account and start using the service for free.

Where it falls short

If your aim is to get a checking account with a credit-building feature, note that as great and as highly rated as its Experian Boost service is, it will only help with your Experian credit report. There are many other rent-reporting services available that can report rent, utility and phone payments to multiple credit bureaus — but those often charge a monthly fee, so it’s a bit of a give and take.

Another small con is that you can’t get a savings account through Experian, which is a popular pairing. Many people prefer to open a checking and savings account at the same institution for easy transfers and management, but it’s simply not an option with Experian.

Dive deeper Best savings accounts

Experian Smart Money’s fees and access

Type of feeFee details
Monthly service$0
Opening deposit$0
ATMs
  • Domestic: $0 with Allpoint, no fees to check balance anywhere
  • International: $0 balance inquiry, $3 out-of-network withdraw fee, possible foreign transaction fees
Debit card fees
  • Cash withdrawals: $0 with Allpoint, $3 out-of-network withdraw fee
  • Foreign transactions: 3% or $3.25, whichever is higher
  • Card replacement: $5
Overdraft or nonsufficient funds$0
Wire transfersDoesn’t support wire transfers
Other fees
  • Paper statements: N/A
  • Account closure: $0

Compare Experian Smart Money to other checking accounts

Narrow down top checking accounts by monthly fees, opening deposits and benefits. For a closer side-by-side comparison, tick the Compare box on multiple options.

Name Product Fee Minimum deposit to open Annual Percentage Yield (APY) Offer
SoFi Checking and Savings
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Bonus
SoFi Checking and Savings
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$0
4.60% on balances of $0+
0.50% on balances of $0+
1.20% on balances of $0+
Get up to $300 cash bonus with qualifying direct deposit. Terms apply. This offer is available until June 30, 2024.
Earn up to 4.60% APY on savings by meeting deposit requirements, and 0.50% APY on checking balances. Members without deposit requirements will earn 0.50% APY on both savings and checking balances. Turn on automatic savings or use the Roundups feature to help you reach your savings goals faster. Get up to $2M of additional FDIC insurance through a network of participating banks.
Upgrade Rewards Checking Plus
Finder Score: 4.3 / 5: ★★★★★
Upgrade Rewards Checking Plus
$0 per month
$0
N/A
Earn up to 2% cashback rewards on everyday purchases. Pay $0 fees for overdraft, domestic wire transfer and monthly maintenance. Member FDIC.
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$0 per month
$0
N/A
The Cash App Cash Card lets you pay for goods and services both online and in stores using your Cash App balance. Enjoy features like ATM access, direct deposit, instant discounts at select stores and a customizable card.
Chime® Checking Account
Finder Score: 4.8 / 5: ★★★★★
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$0 per month
$0
N/A
Save easily and access your paycheck up to 2 days early with direct deposit. Pay $0 monthly fees, and no minimum balance is required. Access 24/7 support and get daily balance and transaction alerts. FDIC insured.
Current
Finder Score: 4.6 / 5: ★★★★★
Bonus
Current
$0 per month
$0
4.00% on balances of $0.01 to $2,000
Get a $50 referral bonus by inviting your friends to join Current. Once the person receives the invite link and makes qualifying deposits of at least $200 within 45 days of opening the account, you and the referred friend each earn $50
Earn 4% bonus on the first $2,000 in each savings pods. Also get budgeting tools, early direct deposit and up to 15x cashback points. All with no monthly fee or opening deposit requirement. Member FDIC.
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How to open the Experian Smart Money account

Since Experian isn’t a bank, there aren’t any physical branches you can visit to open the Smart Money account. You can open the account online with these simple steps:

  1. Follow the link to Experian.com or download the Experian app.
  2. Enter the last four digits of your Social Security number, your phone number and other information. At this point, you’re setting up a free Experian membership for the site. After creating an Experian membership, you can apply for the checking account.
  3. If approved, fund the account, and you can use the virtual debit card instantly. You can order a physical card for free once you’ve funded the account.

Customer experience

The majority of Experian’s customer reviews have to do with its credit reporting services and its Experian Boost feature. Experian’s digital checking account is rather new, as it launched in October 2023.

The digital account’s major draw is the fact that it’s automatically connected to the service Boost, which can let you add recurring bill payments to your Experian credit file for free. The feedback around this service on Trustpilot is almost always positive, with customers stating they saw major improvements to their credit scores immediately. Some users are disappointed with the fact that not all of their bills can be reported — such as quarterly utility bills or cash-paid rent — but those reviews are quickly drowned out by thousands of positive stories.

After the Smart Money launch, folks on Reddit started multiple threads discussing the account, and the reception was mixed. Many pointed out that the account’s main draw is linking to Experian Boost, which many point out is helpful for those looking to build credit history with the bureau. Many more are skeptical of Experian’s account and Boost, calling it a data mining grift, and some state Experian Boost lowered their credit scores, but there are many factors that go into your FICO score and VantageScore, so we’re taking that with a grain of salt.

Frequently asked questions

Is Experian a bank now?

No, Experian remains one of the major credit bureaus in the US, alongside Equifax and TransUnion. Experian can provide the digital account Smart Money through its bank partner, Community Federal Savings Bank, Member FDIC. So, while Experian is not a bank, its banking partner offers FDIC insurance coverage on the digital account up to $250,000.

Does Experian have a credit card?

No, Experian doesn’t offer a credit card. Its Smart Money digital account is a checking account and not a line of credit, and it’s not a credit-building card on its own.

★★★★★ — Excellent

★★★★★ — Good

★★★★★ — Average

★★★★★ — Subpar

★★★★★ — Poor

We analyze top credit-building cards and rate them one to five stars based on factors that are most important to you. The five factors include: Fees, credit score requirements, credit reporting practices, annual percentage rate (APR) and customer support options.

Read the full methodology of how we rate credit building cards.

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Writer, Banking and Loans

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