The traditional way to build credit requires getting a credit card and/or loan and making monthly payments on time. But that activity doesn’t include all the other utility bills you pay. So, it only represents a small portion of your financial behavior.
Most utility providers don’t report payment activity to the credit bureaus, which means your utility bills aren’t doing anything to help your credit history or build your credit scores. Not reporting on-time utility payments puts you at a disadvantage, especially if you don’t already have any credit cards or loans.
Reporting your utility bill payments can help you correct this disadvantage. By adding your utility payments to your credit report, you open an alternative path to better credit.
Which Utility Bill Payments are Added to My Credit Report?
Before a payment can show up on your credit report and affect your credit score, it must be reported to at least one of the major credit bureaus: Experian®, Equifax®, or TransUnion®. Traditionally, the only types of accounts that get reported involve pre-approved lines of credit, such as:
- Credit cards
- Student loans
- Auto loans
- Personal loans
In other words, you borrow money or get approval to build a credit history. Other types of services do not usually show up on your credit report.
Why Aren’t My Utility Bills Added to My Credit Report?
Most traditional service providers, like landlords and service companies, charge you a monthly fee in exchange for a service but do not report on-time payments.
The exception is that if you don’t pay your bills for too long, the company may send your account to collections, which does show up on your credit report. Ironically, this means that on-time payments rarely help your credit scores, but failing to make your payments can negatively impact your credit scores.
Can I Self Report My Utility Bills?
You can’t just send a copy of your paid electric bill to the credit bureaus and have them include it on your credit report.
But some services let you self-report utility bill payments so that your on-time payments can help you build positive credit history. For example, with utility payment reporting from IdentityIQ services, you can easily report your monthly utility payments to the credit bureaus.
Which Utility Bills Can I Add to My Credit Report?
Utility reporting from IdentityIQ services reports your on-time utility payments to the credit bureaus, including up to 24 months of past payments. These payments appear as a separate tradeline on your credit report and can improve your credit scores. The types of utility payments you can report include:
- Waste management
- Cable and internet
- Cell phone
Benefits of Reporting Your Utility Bills
Whether you have strong credit or limited credit history, there are many benefits to reporting your utility payments:
- Improve your credit scores. Reporting on-time utility bill payments can build a positive payment history to raise your credit scores.
- Get access to credit. Once you establish strong credit history, you can more easily qualify for loans and credit cards.
- Lower interest rates. With better credit, you can access lower interest rates, saving you hundreds or thousands of dollars in the long run.
- Timely reporting. Utility payments are reflected on your credit report soon after you report them to the credit bureaus.
- Comprehensive credit history. Paint a full picture of your financial activity that reflects your ability to pay your bills beyond loans and credit cards.
- Alternative credit data. Alternative data like utility payments enables you to build credit, especially if you would otherwise do not have a credit history.
- Credit transparency. The more information you use to build your credit scores, the greater visibility you gain into how those scores are calculated.
- Improve financial literacy. Build financial literacy and knowledge about your credit scores and what goes into them using monthly expenses you’re familiar with.
Reporting your utility bill payments is essential to building credit and improving your credit scores. By reporting your on-time utility payments, you gain greater control over the information that makes up your credit scores.
Utility reporting from IdentityIQ services gives you the ability to report your on-time utility payments. You also get access to various tools that protect your identity, monitor your credit, and keep you informed as a consumer.