Building a credit history from scratch may seem like a daunting task, but your rent payments can turn out unexpectedly useful. CreditLadder helps you make them count.
When you’re a young professional, there are a few certainties in your financial life: one is that you’ll spend too much on gin and tonics, another one is the standing order with which you pay the rent on the first day of the month and the third is that the two of them combined mean you’ll only have spare change to do your grocery shopping for the remaining 29 days.
Rent doesn’t exactly come cheap these days, so why not use it to improve your credit history? CreditLadder can help with that. The service it offers is over 5 years old and can help you build a positive credit history with the 3 main UK credit reference agencies (Experian, Equifax and TransUnion) and Crediva.
Explain CreditLadder to me in 3 sentences
1. CreditLadder is a service that allows you to have your rent payments recorded in one of your Experian, Equifax, TransUnion and Crediva credit reports for free or all for a fee.
2. Potential lenders will see them, so paying the rent on time each month helps you establish yourself as a reliable borrower who can keep up with regular payments.
3. CreditLadder could be particularly useful for people who don’t have much of a credit history yet to help them build one and access more affordable credit.
How does it work?
It’s fairly simple:
- CreditLadder connects to your bank account through Open Banking. When you sign up, you’ll be asked to grant CreditLadder read-only access to your transactions. CreditLadder can then identify and track your rent payments. It can work with 95% of bank accounts – you’ll need to be paying the rent from a supported current account, or you can’t use the service.
- It reports your payments to Experian, Equifax, TransUnion or Crediva (or all 4 for £5/month). The credit reference agency (CRA) will add your rent payments to your credit report. Experian, Equifax and TransUnion are the 3 largest CRAs in the UK.
- Lenders can see the payment history and take it into account when deciding. If they do and you make your rent payments on time, you could be offered better rates than you normally would.
How does having my rent payments on my credit report help me?
It isn’t easy to quantify, but there are a few things to consider.
First of all, signing up to the scheme makes it easier to prove your identity online, which means that, for example, you may be able to open a bank account without having to provide physical proof of identity. Experian says that with the scheme, the proportion of tenants who can prove their identity online will go from 39% to 84%.
Things are trickier when it comes to actually improving your credit score. Experian says that 79% of tenants would benefit from the scheme by seeing their credit score go up. But that’s only if lenders decide to take rental data into account, which is not standard practice yet.
For now, rental records appear on your credit file but won’t automatically feed your Experian credit score (the silver lining being that if you pay the rent late once, it shouldn’t damage your credit score either).
An Experian spokesperson told Finder: “More than 1 million tenants now have their rent payment records included in their Experian credit report, which both they and lenders can see, but it won’t have an additional impact on their credit score just yet. Several lenders are now testing the data before they incorporate it into their decision-making, which is the usual process for new data sets. So, it’s not yet factored into people’s credit scores, but this should soon change.”
Ultimately, like paying back a loan on time, making on-time rent payments can demonstrate to future would-be lenders you’ve been responsible with your financial obligations.
Who is behind CreditLadder?
CreditLadder launched in 2016. The CEO is Sheraz Dar, who previously worked in various digital businesses, including OpenRent. CreditLadder was the first company to report to Experian’s Rental Exchange scheme.
The Rental Exchange scheme is a partnership between The Big Issue and Experian. It was born in 2010, but only since October 2018 have rent payments been appearing on tenants’ credit files.
What’s the good and the bad of CreditLadder?
- It can help you build a positive credit history.
- It helps you prove your identity online.
- You could be able to access cheaper rates on loans, credit cards and mortgages.
- It’s free to get your rent reported to one credit agency with CreditLadder.
- Signing up is quick and easy.
- Landlords can refer their tenants to CreditLadder.
- For landlords: tenants are strongly incentivised to pay the rent on time.
- Reporting to all 4 credit reference agencies costs from £5/month.
- For now, not many lenders take rent into account when assessing your credit application.
- Seeing an improvement to your credit score by reporting your rent through CreditLadder can take up to 12 months.
It’s worth noting that any boost to your credit score isn’t guaranteed. For example, if you keep up with rent payments (and CreditLadder reports these to credit agencies) but miss credit card repayments, your score will go down, not up.
How much does it cost?
The basic service that includes reporting to 1 credit agency only (you can choose Experian, Equifax, TransUnion and Crediva) is completely free.
If you sign up to the CreditLadder annual plan (for £5/month) or CreditLadder Advanced monthly plan (for £8/month), it will report to all 4 agencies (Experian, Equifax, TransUnion and Crediva).
Alternatives to CreditLadder
Making rent count towards your credit score may seem like a fairly obvious thing to implement, but it’s actually very new. For now, only CreditLadder reports rent payments to all 3 biggest CRAs in the UK.
However, instead of self-reporting through CreditLadder, you can also ask your landlord to report directly to Experian’s Rental Exchange scheme for you. Council or social housing tenants can do it, and so can private tenants if their landlord or agency manages at least 500 properties.
The other option for self-reporting is another startup called Canopy. It reports your rent payments to the Rental Exchange too, while also building a “digital rental profile” that allows you to instantly prove to potential landlords you can afford the rent, making reference and affordability checks way quicker. CreditLadder is planning a similar service, but it hasn’t launched yet.
Finally, don’t forget that there are multiple ways to build your credit history, and some are more straightforward than making your rent count. Make sure you’re on the electoral roll and try to never miss payments. You could also consider a specific credit builder product, such as LOQBOX or a credit builder credit card.
Frequently asked questions
More guides on Finder
What is a business credit score?
Discover how your business credit score affects your company.
Do utility bills affect your credit score?
Discover how your credit score will be affected.
How to remove black marks and defaults on your credit report
Repairing your credit report won’t be a quick and straightforward process, but it doesn’t mean it’s completely impossible. This guide gives you a few tips on how to approach the problem.
Does withdrawing cash with your credit card affect your credit score?
Discover whether withdrawing cash with your credit card can affect your credit score or your chances of being approved for credit.
TransUnion credit score, rating and report
What is a TransUnion score, rating and report? Find out what factors affect your TransUnion score and how can you improve it.
Equifax credit score, rating and report
What is an Equifax score, rating and report? Find out what factors affect your Equifax score and how can you improve it.
Do student loans affect your credit score?
If you’re planning to apply for a personal loan, credit card or mortgage, find out how student loan debt could affect your ability to be approved.
Does my overdraft affect my credit score?
For most of us, overdrafts are an incredibly handy facility. But if you’re about to apply for some for of credit – perhaps a mortgage, credit card or personal loan – you might worry about your credit rating.