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Can Paying Utility and Phone Bills Help Improve Your Credit Score?

Updated: Jun 14




Do Utility or Phone Bills Help Build Credit? Understanding the Impact on Your Credit Score

When it comes to building credit, there's a lot of conventional wisdom about what counts and what doesn't. Credit cards and loans are the typical financial products known to affect your credit score, but what about the monthly bills you're already paying, like utilities and phone bills? Let's dive into whether paying these regular expenses can actually help you build a solid credit foundation.

The Traditional Credit Report Landscape

Traditionally, the major credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion) compile credit reports that focus on credit cards, mortgages, student loans, auto loans, and other forms of debt. Payment history on these accounts is one of the most significant factors in calculating your credit score. However, regular payments for services like electricity, gas, water, and your cellphone bill aren't automatically reported to these bureaus.

Can Utility and Phone Bills Affect Your Credit Score?

The straightforward answer has been "no," these bills do not help you build credit in the traditional sense. But with recent changes and new services, there's more to this story.

The Exception with Missed Payments

It's important to note that while on-time utility and phone payments haven't been regularly reported, delinquencies can make their way onto your credit report. If you default on your bills and your account is sent to a collections agency, this negative mark can indeed impact your credit score.

New Initiatives for Reporting Regular Bills

Recognizing that consumers want their good payment habits to be reflected in their credit reports, Experian introduced Experian Boost. This service allows consumers to add utility and phone bills to their credit file. If you pay these bills on time, it can have a positive impact on your Experian credit score. Other credit bureaus are exploring similar offerings.

Third-party Services

There are also third-party services that can report your payment history for utility and phone bills to the credit bureaus. These services act as a middleman by verifying your payment history and reporting it on your behalf. However, these services may charge a fee, and not all credit bureaus may accept the data.

Rent Reporting Services

Like the services for utility and phone bills, there are rent reporting services that can report your monthly rent payments to credit bureaus. If you're a renter, this can be another avenue for impacting your credit score.

The Benefits and Considerations

Incorporating utility and phone bill payments into your credit report can be particularly beneficial for those with thin credit files or those looking to rebuild credit. Here's why:

- On-time Payments: Regular, on-time payments demonstrate responsible credit behavior, potentially increasing your credit score.

- Credit History Length: Utility and phone accounts are generally long-standing accounts, which can help increase the average age of your credit accounts.

However, there are a few caveats:

- Not all Bills Qualify: Only certain accounts and payment types may be eligible to be reported.

- Not a Replacement for Traditional Credit: Building credit through credit cards and loans still tend to have a more significant impact on your score.

- Service Costs: Some services that report utility and phone bill payments have associated fees.

Key Takeaways

While utility and phone bills don't automatically build credit in the traditional sense, newer options provide avenues for these payments to positively affect your credit score. It's worth researching and considering these options if you're keen to build or enhance your credit profile.

However, remember that while these additional services can help, the best way to build credit remains through disciplined use of traditional credit products. Always prioritize maintaining a low credit utilization ratio, paying debts on time, and keeping old accounts open to lengthen your credit history.

In the ever-evolving landscape of credit reporting, being informed is your greatest asset. Whether you choose to use new services to report your utility and phone payments or stick with traditional methods, understanding how different financial behaviors affect your credit is the key to building a strong credit score.

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