Q. Is there any way to report to the credit bureaus all the things you do pay on time to raise your credit score? (i.e., rent, electric bill, child care, etc.) If so, is there a form I need to fill out to send to Experian, TransUnion & Equifax indicating my positive payment history?
A. If you’re a renter, adding your rental payment history to your credit reports is a great way to increase your credit score. Right now, the only way to add alternative credit data, such as rent payments, to your credit files is by doing it online.
Fortunately, there are two companies that let you do initiative this process: RentTrack.com and RentReporter.com. Both are online rent payment reporting services.
At the time of this writing, Experian and TransUnion work with RentTrack, a service that lets tenants nationwide pay their rent online and then have their monthly payment information included in their credit reports. So you can use this service just by going to http://RentTrack.com and clicking on the button that says “Resident” to get signed up.
With the RentTrack site, you can pay your rent online by e-check or credit card. But be aware that according to the company’s website, RentTrack charges a technology platform fee of 3.25% per credit card transaction. Also, some property managers may set a different fee, and may pass eCheck fees to tenants. (Any fees will be displayed when setting up your first payment).
One of the appeals of RentTrack is that it bills itself as the only third-party rent payment processor that is authorized to report to both the Experian and TransUnion credit bureaus.
The other service, RentReporters.com also lets you update your credit files with rental payment history. Currently, this service reports your rent track record only to TransUnion.
It’s free to set up a RentReporters credit bureau reporting account. However, as a credit bureau requirement for accurate rental history payment reporting, members must use one of the company’s automated RentPay systems – and those systems require a fee. It’s $3.95 per transaction for payments made via ACH or E-check. The cost is 2.95% per transaction for payments made via credit or debit card.
One upside about RentReporters is that it’s the only service of its kind that, from the time you enroll, lets you report as much as 24 months’ worth of your past rental payment history. RentReporters even verifies your previous rental payment history at your current address and can “certify” your previous rental payments, providing you with a payment report to be use as a credit reference if you need one.
With services like these, people with “thin” credit files and so-called underbanked consumers can also establish credit, build their credit rating or increase their credit scores.
If you try to add your rental information to RentTrack.com or RentReporter.com and your property isn’t listed, or you can’t sign up for some reason, you can always use one of these services to invite your landlord to enroll at no cost. That way, your landlord can submit your payment history directly.
Also, TransUnion Resident Credit is another service that lets property managers submit data about their residents to TransUnion each month. This free service supplies information such as the amount and timeliness of your rent payment, as well as any balance owed.
With ResidentCredit, you can’t submit this info directly to TransUnion; the credit bureaus only accepts data from credentialed property managers and third-party payment processors. But if your property manager does not report, TransUnion officials suggest having your landlord contact email@example.com to discuss the ResidentCredit service.
At the request of a property manager who is supplying TransUnion with rental payment data, TransUnion executives say they will share the information reported with other national credit bureaus, so they can also add your rent history to their consumer credit files and scores.
Finally, what about reporting information other than rent payments?
Equifax has created a consumer services database that compiles data about individuals’ telecommunications, utilities, cable and satellite payments. Mortgage lenders can access this database if a borrower thinks that info will boost their chances of getting a loan.