Can paying rent help your credit score?

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Can paying rent help your credit score?
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Renters who pay on time can find that their credit scores get a nice boost — if they take the necessary steps to have their payments reported.

RELATED: Leaving an apartment? Here’s how to avoid those move-out charges

Here’s how to get your rent payments reported to the credit bureaus

If you buy a home and have a mortgage, your mortgage payment is automatically reported to the credit bureaus each month.

But if you are a renter — which is around one in three of us — your rent payments have historically only been reported if you’ve been delinquent and they’ve gone to collections.

So, being a renter could only harm you, not help your credit. A good payment history on rent generally hasn’t had any positive effect — until now.

Here’s a look at what you need to know about how the major credit bureaus treat rent payments.

Equifax

Equifax doesn’t have a formalized process or partnership in place to report timely rental payments on your credit report.

However, they will include the info if you can get it to them. It’s just that the onus for doing that is on you.

RentReporters and RocktheScore are both third parties that report to Equifax — for a price.

RentReporters has a one-time enrollment fee of $94.95 and an ongoing subscription fee of $9.95 per month. You can include up to two years of reported rental payments with this service, which also lets you report to TransUnion.

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RocktheScore has a one-time enrollment fee of $25 and an ongoing subscription cost of $8.95 per month. You’ll also pay a $99 fee for reporting up to two years of rental history. Like RentReporters, this service reports to TransUnion, as well.

Experian

Experian aggregates on-time rental payment data through its own proprietary system called Experian RentBureau.

The good news is your property management company may already be reporting to Experian RentBureau.

If they aren’t, you can get your on-time payments reported by signing up with any of several rental payment service providers:

TransUnion

TransUnion partners with PayLease –– a leading provider of online payments, resident billing and utility expense management solutions –– to allow renters and/or landlords to report payments directly to the credit bureau.

transunion paylease system

The credit bureau says renters can benefit in three ways from reporting their payment with PayLease:

  • Creating thicker credit files that may increase a renter’s purchasing power as credit becomes available to them over time
  • Not having to rely on traditional credit-building strategies, like credit cards and loans
  • Giving tenants the ability to “own” their rental history

Of course this works both ways. If you don’t pay your rent on time, that will hurt your credit score!

Clark’s take

Money expert Clark Howard says he wishes the bureaus would have gotten on board with these kinds of services even sooner.

“It’s such a mystery why the system has punished renters for so long. It makes no sense,” the consumer expert says.

“This whole concept goes back to the idea of expanded credit scores. Many people don’t have traditional forms of credit. So, if you track utility bills, bounced checks, and other measurements, the belief is that would also indicate how well someone would handle a line of traditional credit.”

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“This is all good news for renters, who have historically paid higher rates for insurance and sometimes had trouble with job offers because not having a mortgage hurt their credit score.”

Here are some more apartment-related articles you might enjoy from Clark.com:

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