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A lot of people who don’t have much of a credit history do have a history of paying rent on time. But that information doesn't show up on their credit reports and doesn't help their credit scores.
You can’t report rent payments yourself. But rent-reporting services can get your credit reports to reflect your rent payments fairly easily, although the cost can depend on the service — some are free and some cost renters or landlords a fee.
To use a rent-reporting service effectively, you’ll need to know which credit bureaus it will report your payments to — and which credit scores take those payments into account.
Do rent payments affect credit?
All three major credit bureaus — Equifax, Experian and TransUnion — will include rent payment information in credit reports if they receive it.
Credit reports, in turn, provide the data that goes into your credit scores. The two major credit scoring companies, FICO and VantageScore, vary in how they handle rent payment information:
Some commonly used versions of the FICO score don’t use rental payment information in calculating scores.
Which services will report your rent payments?
There are several ways to get records of your rent payments in front of lenders.
Positive Rent Payment pilot program
Fannie Mae launched a pilot program in September 2022 with the goal of helping renters build their credit history and grow their credit scores. The Positive Rent Payment program links Fannie Mae-financed owners of multifamily properties with three vendors — Esusu, Jetty and Rent Dynamics — to allow landlords to report tenants' on-time rent payments to credit bureaus for one year. Fannie Mae will reimburse the vendors, and no costs will be passed along to renters.
Fannie Mae says it hopes that rent reporting will motivate more on-time payments, help renters find housing in a wider range of neighborhoods, and possibly reduce the amount they’ll have to put down as a security deposit on future rentals.
The focus of this program is on Black and Latino communities, which are disproportionately represented among those with little or no credit profile.
Free rent-reporting services tenants can use on their own
Piñata: The service is free to renters, no matter their landlord. It reports to TransUnion. If your landlord signs up for a specific partnership with Piñata, your rent payments can be reported to all three bureaus.
Self: Self, which LevelCredit is now part of, offers a basic plan that reports rent payments to all three credit bureaus for free.
Services provided by landlords
While the services listed above can be initiated by renters regardless of where they live, the following rent reporting services are available only if landlords or property managers opt into the services. Sometimes, renters are even automatically enrolled when they sign their lease, and these services are typically free to renters.
Azibo: Landlords must sign up, then they and tenants both can use the service to make free ACH bank transfer payments. Tenants paying rent by debit or credit card, however, face a 2.99% convenience fee. Renters can also sign up for Azibo's Credit Boost program for $4.99 a month; the program reports on-time rent payments made on its platform to all three credit bureaus.
Bilt Rewards: This program lets renters at participating Bilt Alliance properties earn rewards by reporting their rent through the app for free. This service is optional, and renters should receive an invitation when they move in. Renters who do not live in one of these properties can still earn by using the Bilt Mastercard. Renters can earn points to go toward future rent payments, shopping and more, or they can transfer points to airlines and hotels. Benefits accrue based on tier status, ranging from blue to platinum. The service reports rent to the three major bureaus.
ClearNow: This service debits your rent from your checking or savings account. There’s no cost to you as a tenant, but your landlord must be signed up. If you opt in, payments are reported to Experian.
Esusu: This service reports your rental payments to all three major credit bureaus. It’s free to you as a renter if your landlord has a service agreement and is also available through the Positive Rent Payment program. Esusu sends an enrollment email to renters to initiate the setup.
Jetty Credit: Also part of Fannie Mae's pilot program, Jetty is free to renters who live at participating properties. It reports rental payments to all three credit bureaus, and tenants are automatically enrolled. Jetty offers renters insurance as well.
PayYourRent: Fees are paid by landlords or management. PayYourRent reports to all three credit bureaus. Residents can opt in or out at anytime.
Rent Dynamics: Acquired by Entrata, Rent Dynamics is a service aimed at multifamily landlords and property owners that is part of the Positive Rent Payment pilot program. It reports on-time paid utility bills to all three credit bureaus and can retrieve up to 24 months of payment history. Renters should contact their landlord for information about enrollment.
Services that charge renters
Your landlord may need to verify your rent payments; some services may not be able to report your payments if your landlord won’t verify.
Boom: For an enrollment fee of $10 and a monthly fee of $2, users can get their rent reported to all three credit bureaus. Up to 24 months of past payment history is available for a $25 one-time fee.
PaymentReport: One plan is offered with landlord verification, and is free to users. A second plan, which does not require landlord involvement, requires renters to link a bank account to verify payments. It costs $2.95 a month and has no setup fee. PaymentReport reports to Equifax.
Rental Kharma: Initial setup is $75, and the service is $8.95 per month. Reports include all past history at your current address. You can include your roommate or spouse for a $25 one-time fee and an extra $5 per month. Rental Kharma reports to TransUnion and Equifax.
Rent Reporters: There is a one-time enrollment fee of $94.95, which includes up to two years of reported rental payments. From there, you can enroll in a monthly plan ($9.95 per month) or an annual plan ($7.95 per month). Rent Reporters reports to TransUnion and Equifax.
Rock the Score: There is an enrollment fee of $48, and ongoing service costs $6.95 per month. There is a $65 fee for reporting up to two years of rental history. Rock the Score reports to TransUnion and Equifax.
Self: There is a $6.95 monthly fee to report your cell phone and utility payments along with rent. Rent is reported to all three bureaus, while utility payments are reported to TransUnion only. A look-back of up to 24 months is available on your current lease for a one-time fee of $49.95.
How to choose a rent-reporting service
First, check to see if your property manager already works with a service. If not, here are questions you should ask rent-reporting service providers before choosing one:
What would my total costs be for a year of service, including any setup fees or fees for reporting rental history? (Some services can go back as far as 24 months.)
How do you protect my personal data?
Which of the major credit bureaus do you report to? (All three are ideal.)
Do you provide free access to credit scores, and if so, which score(s)?
How soon should I expect the information to appear on my credit report?
How can I cancel the service?
What happens if I have a dispute with my landlord or break my lease? In some states, renters have a right to withhold payment if the landlord fails to keep the unit repaired and habitable. Find out whether rent withheld during a dispute is reported as nonpayment or a negative mark.
Does paying rent build credit?
Simply paying your rent will not help you build credit. But reporting your rent payments can help you build credit — especially if you are new to credit or do not have a lot of experience using it.
Having rental payment information in your credit report can be useful if you rent again in the future. Landlords prefer tenants who can show a history of paying on time.
But other strategies to build credit are more efficient than rent reporting because they influence all types of credit scores and usually report to all three credit bureaus. They also can cost less or, in the case of being an authorized user, nothing at all.
You can become an authorized user on someone else's credit card and benefit from their good credit history.
You can get a secured credit card, which requires a deposit; the deposit often serves as your credit limit.
You can get a credit-builder loan at many credit unions or community banks. Your loan payments are reported to the bureaus, and you get access to the funds only after you have paid the loan off.