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Credit Scores and Reports

Adding rent payments to your credit report could help lift your credit score

Several studies show positive rent payment history can boost scores, but few landlords report this information, and some scores don't include them


A growing amount of research has found that positive rental payments can significantly improve people’s credit scores – sometimes by as much as 10 to 40 points or more – if lenders use a score that incorporates rent payments.

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Paying your rent on time won’t just keep your landlord happy. It could also boost your credit score.

A growing amount of research has found that positive rental payments can significantly improve people’s credit scores – sometimes by as much as 10 to 40 points or more – if lenders use a score that incorporates rent payments.

A pilot study released this month by Goldman Sachs, Giv Development and Credit Builders Alliance found consumers with subprime credit scores could potentially boost their VantageScores by as much as 42 points, on average, just by adding their rental histories to their credit reports.

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Studies show positive effects for consumers with low scores or no credit at all

VantageScore has been incorporating rent payments into consumers’ credit scores since its inception in 2006. However, rent payments are only incorporated when they are reported to a credit bureau.

Consumers don’t have to wait long to see results, either: Participants in the pilot study experienced a substantial boost to their scores after just four months of reported rent payments.

“Unlike homeowners, renters historically have not gotten ‘credit’ on their credit reports for making their monthly housing payments,” Credit Builders Alliance’s Sarah Chenven said in a June 26 statement. “We see rent reporting as a safe, viable opportunity for tenants living in affordable housing to build credit as a financial asset without taking on additional debt.”

Meanwhile, a 2017 pilot study by Experian and the City of New York found similar, though more modest, results. It found that more than three-quarters of renters who have rent payments added to their credit reports are likely to enjoy an increase to their VantageScores.

Nineteen percent of renters are likely to see a VantageScore jump as high as 11 points or more, the study found, while only 5 percent are likely to see a decline in their credit scores.

The study also found that incorporating rent payments into credit scores would help many people who don’t use credit suddenly become scoreable – often for the first time – making it easier for them later on to qualify for a loan. Among the study participants who became newly scoreable after the inclusion of rent payments onto their credit reports, participants typically enjoyed scores as high as 700, on average.

“Incorporating rent information into credit reports could provide a dramatic boost to a consumer’s credit score, enabling them to benefit from the many opportunities that result from having good credit,” wrote the New York City Comptroller’s Office in the report.

Both pilot studies support previous research that’s found rent payments can help improve consumers’ scores.

A 2015 study by RentTrack found consumers’ VantageScores increased by an average of 9 points after just two months of adding rental payments to their credit reports. Among consumers with subprime credit scores – 650 or below – their VantageScores increased by an average of 29 points.

Similarly, a 2014 study by TransUnion found nearly 41 percent of consumers with subprime credit scores could increase their scores by at least 10 points or more just by adding rent payments to their credit reports.

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Rent payments are irregularly reported to credit bureaus, lenders

The study’s findings are encouraging for consumers who could use some extra help improving their scores. However, landlords don’t universally report payments to the credit bureaus and so not everyone with on-time payments may benefit.

According to FICO, for example, just 0.3 percent of renters in 2017 had rental payments included on their credit reports.

“Rental data does have potential to improve credit access, but not until much more of it is reported to the credit bureaus,” wrote FICO’s Joanne Gaskin in a 2017 blog post.

Landlords may be able to be persuaded, though. According to a recent survey by TransUnion, 73 percent of renters said they’d be more motivated to pay their rent on time if they knew their landlord reported their payments to a credit bureau.

If your landlord doesn’t report your rental payments, you may need to work with a third party instead to help facilitate the reporting of your payments.

Your lender may also use a credit score model that doesn’t incorporate rental payments into its credit score calculation. So even if your landlord does report your rent payments to a credit bureau, you may still not get credit for it.

FICO’s latest credit score version, FICO Score 9, does incorporate rental payments when landlords report that information to a credit bureau. So does FICO’s alternative credit score FICO XD. However, earlier versions of the FICO score don’t factor in rental payments.

Although some lenders use a variety of scoring models to evaluate potential borrowers, others may only rely on older credit scoring models.

For your rent payments to help improve your odds of getting a lower cost loan, you’ll need to work with a lender that uses VantageScore, FICO Score 9 or FICO XD, or uses its own proprietary score that factors in rent payments.

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How to get your rent payments added to your credit reports

Even though rent payments aren’t universally used to evaluate new borrowers, it may still be a good idea to try to get your rent payments added to your reports – especially if you have subprime credit.

If your landlord doesn’t currently report rent payments, you have a number of options – as long as you’re willing to pay a fee. A number of third-party companies, such as RentTrack, Rock the Score, Rent Reporters or Rental Kharma, will report your rent payments on your behalf. You just need to sign up for their service and work with them to verify your payments.

The fees can be a bit steep, ranging as high as $6.95 a month to $9.95 a month, depending on the company. However, they may be worth it if the extra rent payments boost your score significantly or allow you to be scored for the first time ever.

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