Credit bureaus don’t automatically collect information about rent payments but will include this data on your credit reports if they receive it. And if you’re buying a home, lenders can use your positive rental payment history for loan approval.
While building credit by paying rent can take some effort, it is simple to do with rent reporting services and a little help from your landlord. Here’s how to get credit for all of those rent payments.
Does Paying Rent Build Credit?
“Paying rent can build credit if your payments are reported,” says Rod Griffin, senior director of consumer education and advocacy for the credit bureau Experian. “Unfortunately, that’s not the norm, as most landlord and rent management companies don’t report rent payments.”
Unless you or your landlord have signed up for a rent reporting service, the three major credit bureaus – Equifax, Experian and TransUnion – will not put rent payments on your credit report. That means your credit score and credit report aren’t affected by your rent payments.
But, Griffin says, you can change that. You’ll need help from a rent reporting service to tell the credit bureaus about your payments.
If you have a positive rental history, adding it to your record could help you establish or build credit, Griffin says, and improve your rating.
One caveat is that “Not all credit scores include rental tradeline information in their calculations,” cautions Freddie Huynh, vice president of data optimization for Freedom Debt Relief.
Rent payments can be factored into your VantageScore and recent FICO scoring models, such as FICO 9 and 10. These are not commonly used scoring models. Still, adding rental history to your credit reports could help if you’re seeking credit from a financial institution that relies on one of them.
Rent Payments in Mortgage Decisions
Lenders can use your positive rental payment history to help you qualify for a conventional loan, regardless of whether rental history is reflected in your credit report. Those that use Fannie Mae’s or Freddie Mac’s automated underwriting systems to qualify mortgage borrowers can identify recurring rent payments made from your bank account.
With the borrower’s permission, the lender will use either Fannie’s or Freddie’s digital process to access bank data and confirm 12 consecutive on-time rent payments. You will need to be a first-time buyer to use rental payments to qualify for a loan. Fannie Mae also requires that you purchase a primary residence and have a credit score of at least 620.
Getting credit for your rent payments when you buy a home can make a difference in loan approval if you don’t have the credit history to qualify otherwise. According to Fannie Mae research, 17% of mortgage applicants who did not own a home in the last three years and were denied loans could have been approved if their rental payment history had been considered.
How to Report Your Rent to Credit Bureaus
Consumers can’t directly report rent payments to credit bureaus. Even if you can show evidence of rent payments, the bureaus won’t accept it.
The credit bureaus get your payment information from public records and creditors, such as banks, card issuers and debt collectors. You will need to work with a rent reporting service to inform the credit bureaus of your rent payments.
“A rent reporting service is a third party that reports your rental payment history to the credit bureaus,” Huynh says.
Rent reporting services must comply with the Fair Credit Reporting Act, a federal law that protects information collected by the credit bureaus and allows you to dispute incorrect information.
Most, but not all, rent reporting services charge a fee. You have two options:
Sign up for a rent reporting service independently. Note that the reporting service may still require your landlord to verify your lease or rent payments. You will pay any fee directly to the service. Enrollment fees vary and could be one time or each month, plus a setup charge.
Ask your landlord to sign up for a rent reporting service. The reporting service may offer an incentive to the landlord to sign up, such as automatic payment collection from tenants. You won’t pay the service directly, but your landlord may incur a cost and pass it on to you.
Landlords with Fannie Mae-financed buildings can participate in the Positive Rent Payment program, which reports their residents’ payments using the services Esusu, Jetty and Rent Dynamics. Also, Freddie Mac helps renters build credit by offering incentives to multifamily property owners to report on-time payments to all three credit bureaus.
What Services Can Report Your Payments?
Because many rent reporting services are available today, it pays to compare the options and find the best one for you. Here is a selection available to you or your landlord:
Landlord Rent Reporting Services
|Service||How It Works||Reports To||Cost|
|ClearNow||Collects rent and reports payments||
|eRentPayment||Reports payments and offers various online property management tools||
|PayYourRent||Collects rent and reports payments||
Tenant Rent Reporting Services
|Service||Landlord Responsibility||Reports To||Cost|
|$25 annually for CHES Inc. tenants and a $50 one-time fee to report up to the last two years of payments|
|$6.95 per month, $49.95 one-time fee to add up to the last two years of payments|
|Free for prepaid card or MoCaFi app users, $3 per report for online users after the first report|
|PaymentReport||Verify through bank or landlord||
$0 set-up fee, then two options: $2.95 per month if you want to verify through your bank account; or $0 if you prefer landlord verification
|Rental Kharma||Verify payments||$75 one-time setup fee with rental history at current address, $8.95 monthly fee|
|RentReporters||Verify rental history||Two plans: $9.95 per month and a $94.95 sign-up fee, or $7.95 per month paid annually plus a $94.95 sign-up fee|
|Rock the Score||Verify rental history||$48 one-time enrollment fee, $6.95 monthly reporting fee, $65 one-time historical reporting fee for last two years of rent|
How to Choose a Rent Reporting Service
Before you choose a service, check whether your landlord is already working with one. “If so, there may be an easier path to having your rental history reported,” Huynh says.
If not, consider these questions to select the right rental reporting service:
What does the service cost? Free rent reporting services for consumers are rare. Compare the cost and the value of features for each service.
What do you get? Will the service provide you with a record of payments and credit reporting? Also, look at whether the service is seamless and easy to use, Griffin says.
Is the service hard for your landlord to use? Many rent reporting services require your landlord to verify your rental agreement and payments. If your landlord isn’t willing to help, you will need a service that uses your bank account to verify your payments. In California, landlords of assisted housing developments must offer tenants the option to report rent payments to at least one credit bureau for a maximum fee of $10 per month.
Which credit bureaus will receive your information? Ideally, a rent reporting service should report to all three credit bureaus. “Some reporting services report to all three bureaus, while others may only report to one or two,” Huynh says.
How soon will your rent payments appear on your credit report? Credit report changes typically don’t happen overnight. Contact the service and ask when your payment history will appear on your credit report if speed is important for a major purchase.
Can you easily cancel the service? Most rent reporting services use a subscription model and charge monthly or yearly fees. Find out how to cancel and what happens if you do: Is your rental history removed from your credit report if you are no longer paying for the service?
Can you add a spouse or roommate? Some services allow you to include someone else who lives with you at no charge. That means your spouse wouldn’t have to pay separately for rent reporting.
Are past payments reported? Some services include up to two years of rental history with your basic fee, while others charge an additional fee to go back.
What’s the service’s reputation? Look for established services with good reviews, Griffin says. Check for complaints and major issues – try the Better Business Bureau and Trustpilot – signaling that you should use a different service.
Whichever rent reporting service you choose, it is a great tool that too few people use to establish and build credit, Griffin says. “As a consumer, you should take advantage of all the tools that are available to empower you and be in control of your credit history.”