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Does paying rent build credit?

Learn how to get credit for rent and utility payments.

Rent payments aren’t traditionally reported to the credit bureaus, so they don’t help build credit. But you could start reporting those payments and building credit by using a rent reporting service. You can also boost your credit with regular bills, such as utilities and cell phone bills.

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How to get credit history for rent and utility payments

Most landlords or rental property companies don’t automatically report your on-time rent or utility payments, which means even if you pay them on time every month, your credit score won’t improve from it.

That’s where utility and rent reporting services come in. These companies will add your on-time rent payments, which can improve your credit score. These services can be very helpful in building credit without having to add any loans or credit cards to your plate.

The downside with rent reporting services is that most are not free and often charge a one-time setup fee and a monthly fee.

4 rent reporting services for tenants

A rent reporting service is really only worth your time if you stay on top of your payments. To get the most out of these services, be sure it reports to multiple credit bureaus.

  1. Boom Pay. One of the cheaper options, Boom Pay, charges a $10 enrollment fee and $2 each year and lets you add your rent payments to all three of your credit reports. It also offers retroactive rent reporting payments back to 24 months.
  2. Rental Kharma. A flexible option, Rental Kharma lets you report your rent payments no matter how you pay for rent (cash, check, P2P or online). There’s a $75 setup fee and an $8.95 monthly fee that starts 30 days after setup.
  3. Rent Reporters. This service lets you report rent payments to Equifax and TransUnion. It’ll cost a high $94.95 set up fee and a monthly fee of $9.95.
  4. Esusu Rent. It offers rent reporting and rent relief services and reports to all three credit bureaus, and it never reports late or missed payments (though your property manager may). But it’ll cost a property manager $3,500 to set up, and renters pay an annual $50 fee.

4 utility and rent reporting services

If you’re a renter, there’s a good chance you also have utility bills. These services could report other bills like your water, electric, phone or subscription services.

  1. Experian Boost. From the credit bureau itself, Experian Boost is a free rent reporting service that scans your bills and finds ones that can be added to your credit report. It reports rent payments, as well as other monthly expenses like phone or utility bills. But it only adds bills to your Experian credit report.
  2. StellarFi. One of the more affordable options of them all, StellarFi is a credit reporting app that lets you report up to $500 in monthly bill payments with the Lite plan of $4.99 per month. You can report rent, utilities and much more. The $9.99 Prime plan lets you report up to $25,000 in bills.
  3. Self (LevelCredit). Recently merged with Renttrack and formally LevelCredit, this service lets you report rent and utility payments. It costs $6.95 per month for up to five accounts, which can include rent, gas and water. You can also pay an additional $49.95 one-time fee for LookBack to get up to two years of past payments reported. However, it only reports to TransUnion.
  4. Rent Dynamics. This company offers a service called RentPlus, which allows you to report your on-time rent payments, as well as utility bills, to the credit bureaus. It also lets you report up to 24 of backdated rent and utility bills. But your property manager must opt in, and the monthly fee is added to your rent or lease payment and isn’t disclosed.

When to consider rent reporting services

A rent reporting service can make a lot of sense if you fall under any of these situations:

  • You don’t want to take on debt to build credit
  • You’re trying to repair your credit score
  • You have no credit history
  • You plan on renting for at least one year
  • You pay your rent on time every time
  • You can easily afford the monthly fee of a rent-reporting service

3 alternatives to rent reporting services

Rent reporting services aren’t the only way to build credit without taking on a massive loan.

  1. Debit-credit cards. These unique credit-building cards work like debit cards, since they’re backed by an existing bank account. You can only spend what’s in your linked account, and most don’t charge annual fees or interest charges.
  2. Secured credit cards. An alternative to regular credit cards, secured credit cards are backed by a cash deposit that also sets your credit limit. Compared to regular credit cards, they tend to be easier to qualify for.
  3. Become an authorized user. If someone you know is willing, they can add you as an authorized user on their existing credit card. You can earn credit history from the card without having to take on a credit card on your own.

Bottom line

If you don’t have any active loans or credit cards, you’re probably not building credit history. Rent reporting services can help you earn credit history on bills you’re already paying, so you don’t have to take on debt just for the sake of proving you pay things on time.

If rent or utility reporting services don’t seem like your cup of tea, look to our comprehensive guide on how to build credit for more options.

Frequently asked questions

Can I report my rent payments to the credit bureaus myself?

Unfortunately, you can’t contact a credit bureau yourself and request to add your rent payments to your credit reports. If you want your rent payments on your credit reports, you can either contact your landlord or rental property manager and request they opt in to a rent-reporting service, or you can sign up for one on your own.

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