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Paying your utilities can help you build credit, but only if you are using a utility reporting service. Only loans and revolving credit lines are automatically reported to the credit bureaus.
Utilities, rent, subscriptions, and more are not reported unless late payments are sent to a collection agency.
There are third party companies that can help you add the positive payment activity you have on your utilities to your credit history. Having this information sent to the major credit bureaus can have an impact on your credit scores.
How Do Utility Payments Appear On My Credit Report?
Utility payments do not usually appear on credit reports. This is because the utility companies do not report them. While a utility company might pull your credit before establishing service, they don’t want to pay the fee to report your payment activity to the credit bureaus.
The only way to get utility payments to appear on your credit reports is to use a third party service.
The third party utility payment reporting service will report key facts about your utility service. This includes:
- Service provider’s name
- Date service was established
- Bill total each month
- Payment history
If you have late payments on your record with this utility provider, the reporting company could also report this. Some third party companies will report late payments and others won’t.
This type of entry on your credit report (tradeline) will report a maximum of two years of payment activity.
How Utility Payments Affect Your Credit
When utility payments are reported to the credit bureaus, they can significantly impact your credit score.
Let’s break down the five factors of your credit score to see how a utility tradeline can influence your credit score.
Payment history, which is the biggest part of your credit score (35%), will benefit from your utility payments being reported. So long as all of your utility payments are on time, this portion of your score should increase.
The next most important facet of your credit, amounts owed (30%), is not impacted by utility payments. Since utility payments aren’t ‘credit lines,’ there is no credit limit to report. Without a credit limit, there is no credit utilization to calculate.
Length of credit history (15%) can benefit from the addition of utility payments, particularly if you have a thin credit profile. For example, adding a tradeline with two years worth of payment history will impact your credit score.
A utility tradeline won’t really impact the credit mix and new credit portions of your score. Both of these factors only look at your revolving and installment loan tradelines.
What Bills Can Build Your Credit?
Almost any bill can be reported using a third party reporting service. Not all services will report all bills. Most companies limit reporting to a particular category or group of categories.
The most common types of bills that can be reported are utilities. This includes:
Another popular bill that can be reported is rent. This can include rent at a traditional apartment or renting from a family or friend. But you’ll need to contact a company that specializes in rent reporting.
Subscription and streaming services are another type of bill that can be reported to the credit bureaus to help you build credit. Services can include services like:
- Amazon Prime
- Sirus XM
- Hello Fresh
This is only a short list of the possible subscriptions that can be reported to the credit bureaus to help you build credit.
All of these bills require you to use a service to report your account and payments to the credit bureaus. Therefore, bills like these won’t appear on your credit reports without hiring a reporting service.
The exception is late payments, which could result in collections appearing on your reports.
In addition to the above types of bills, any bills you pay with credit cards can also help you build credit each month when your credit card issuer reports your activity to the credit bureaus.
How to Report Your Utility Bills to the Credit Bureaus
Suppose you want to have your utility bills added to your credit reports. You could try contacting your provider directly. Some utility providers are willing to report your account to the credit bureaus for a small fee.
Or, your utility company may have a reporting service that they work with or recommend.
But by far, the easiest way to get your utility bills added to your credit reports is to use a third party company that specializes in utility reporting. Below, we’ll look at a few of your utility reporting options.
If you are paying for several subscription services, then Grow Credit might be a great way to help you build credit.
Grow Credit issues a Mastercard dedicated to paying subscription services.
There is no hard inquiry when applying, but Grow Credit does perform a soft pull of your credit. They offer unsecured credit cards and a secured credit card.
For those that qualify for their unsecured account, you can choose from three plans; Build Secured, Grow Membership, or Accelerate Membership.
Once you’ve been approved for the Grow Credit Mastercard, you can begin using it as your payment method for your subscription services.
Grow Credit pays your bill every month and deducts automatic payments from your linked checking account. This allows them to report to the credit bureaus as a credit card even though they never charge you a dime in interest.
Grow Credit supports nearly 100 different subscription services, and as part of your credit building account, they can even offer you discounts on your subscriptions. Check out their complete list of supported subscriptions here.
Experian BOOST™ is a 100% free way to build your credit using utility bills.
The Boost tool is offered by the Experian credit reporting bureau. When you sign up for the service, Experian will look through your bank accounts for recurring payments.
They will then give you the option of adding these recurring payments as utilities to your Experian credit report.
They support many different types of utilities, including electricity, internet, and subscription services.
And not only is the service free, but they will never add negative information to your credit report. So if you’ve missed a utility payment, no worries; Boost will not add it to your credit report.
While Boost improves your Experian credit score, you’ll see the improvement immediately. Their average customer sees a credit score increase of 12 points. See the Boost page for full information on what utility bills they report.
Grow Credit and Experian BOOST™ are not the only services for reporting utility payments, but we do consider them the best options.
There are many other utility reporting services available. Below are a few others worth considering. Because of their higher prices, we still recommend Grow Credit and Experian BOOST™ over these other services.
LevelCredit– offered by Self financial.
- Reports rent and utility payments
- Charges $6.95/month + a $49.95 setup fee
- Reports rent to all 3 credit bureaus and utilities to TransUnion
SimpleBills– offers a system for managing utilities to landlords and residents.
- Reports resident utility payments to Equifax
- Sends one bill for all utilities to a resident
- Charges $2.99/month for reporting service
eCredable – is a reporting service that links directly to your utility accounts.
- Reports an unlimited number of utility accounts to TransUnion
- Charges $24.95/year for reporting services (eCredable Lift)
- Charges $9.95/month for optional credit monitoring services (LiftLocker)
- Has plan options for building business credit
Having your utility bills added to your credit history is a great way to improve your credit history, especially if you have bad credit, since there aren’t usually credit checks for this type of service.
If these utility reporting services don’t work for you, you can always pay your utility bills with credit cards.
You’ll need to avoid accruing too much credit card debt by keeping your credit utilization ratio low. (Total Balances / Available Credit = Credit Utilization)
Making your credit card payments on time is essential as well. Using credit cards to pay for your utilities and then forgetting to pay your credit card bill won’t be suitable for building credit.
Regardless of which method you choose for using utility payments to improve your credit scores, your decision to build credit is the first step towards achieving a good credit score.
- Grow Credit Review
- What Cell Phone Companies Report to Credit Bureaus?
- How to Add Utility Bills to Your Credit Report
- How To Get a Free Tradeline
- Does a Cell Phone Bill Build Credit?
- Is Experian BOOST™ Worth It?
Amanda Garland is a personal finance blogger living in Dallas, TX. 10 years ago she was living paycheck to paycheck and knew nothing about how credit works. She learned some hard lessons in her fight for financial stability. Now she has a friendly competition going with her husband to see who can reach a credit score of 850 first. She is also a poet, having obtained a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Creative Writing.