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For the millions of Americans who have a subprime credit score or no credit score at all, being credit invisible or having a bad credit score can mean limited access to loans, credit cards and higher interest rates.
According to a report by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, nearly 20% of the adult population in the U.S., or around 45 million consumers, are considered to be credit invisible or unscorable — with Black and Hispanic communities being disproportionately considered credit invisible.
Thankfully, there are free services, such as *Experian Boost™, that are designed to help consumers improve their FICO® Scores by including positive payment records for certain utilities and subscription services on consumers' Experian credit reports. Experian recently announced it will also be counting monthly rent payments towards building consumers' credit scores.
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Experian Boost is a free service that launched in 2019 and works by collecting positive information about your on-time monthly payments for bills such as utilities, certain subscription services — and now, rent — to help raise your credit score. And if users are ever late when making their tracked payments, that negative information isn't included.
Experian Boost recently announced a new beta release, saying it would be partnering with 1,500 rent and leasing management companies across the country to include information on rent payments in credit reports.
Average credit score increase
13 points, though results vary
Credit report affected
Credit scoring model used
Results will vary. See website for details.
While Experian isn't disclosing the specific management companies it'll be partnering with, tenants who pay their rent directly to their property management company — or through platforms such as AppFolio Property Management, Buildium®, Yardi® Breeze and Zillow® Rental Manager — can add qualifying positive rent payments to their credit file, according to Rod Griffin, senior director of public education and advocacy at Experian.
Note that not all rent payments qualify for the service — payments must be paid online through certain management companies or platforms, and not through a third-party money-transfer app such as PayPal, Venmo or Zelle. Rent payments made via cash, money order or personal check aren't eligible either.
When you sign up for a free (or paid) Experian Boost account, you can link it to your checking or savings accounts or credit cards. The service then looks at your payment history from the past two years and adds information about any qualifying recurring payments to your credit report.
Keep in mind that there must be at least three recurring payments made within the last six months for it to be counted. In addition to rent, Experian Boost includes payment information from internet, cable and satellite, mobile and landline phones, water, gas, electric and select streaming services like Netflix.
According to Experian, 66% of Experian Boost users saw an increase in their scores, an average of 13 points for FICO® Score 8, the most commonly used score by lenders. Those with lower credit scores or limited credit histories also experienced increases in their scores by using the product.
Experian Boost is unique in that traditionally not all of your payment information — including utility and rent payments and some buy now, pay later loans — gets reported to the credit bureaus. For instance, even if someone has been paying their electric bills or rent on time, those payments may not be impacting their credit score.
Experian Boost isn't the only service that allows consumers to have their rent payment information reported. The Bilt Mastercard® is a no-annual-fee card that offers its cardholders 1X rewards points per dollar spent on rent payments (up to 100,000 points per calendar year), regardless of where you live or how you pay your rent.
Those who can only pay rent via personal check can still get in on this — just use the Bilt Rewards app to pay your rent and Bilt will send a check to your management company for you.
Cardholders who live in an apartment within the Bilt Rewards Alliance can also pay their rent through the app, receive 1X points per dollar and opt to have their monthly payments reported to each of the three major credit bureaus. Even if you don't live in a building associated with the Bilt Rewards Alliance, you can still earn rewards for all your online rent payments.
While most management companies charge a 3% fee for using a credit card to pay rent, by using your Bilt Mastercard, that fee is waived. You'll also be able to earn 3X points on dining, 2X points on travel and 1X points for other purchases, and enjoy a number of travel and dining benefits and consumer protections.
Earn points when you make 5 transactions that post each statement period - up to 1x points on rent payments without the transaction fee (up to 100,000 points each calendar year), 3x points on dining, 2x points on travel, and 1x points on other purchases.
Balance transfer fee
Introductory fee of either $5 or 3% of the amount of each balance transfer, whichever is greater, for 120 days from account opening. After that, up to 5% for each balance transfer ($5 minimum).
Foreign transaction fee
If you've been making your rent, utility and subscription service payments on time each month, you can likely improve your credit score by signing up for Experian Boost. If you happen to be a tenant in one of the properties managed by the 1,500 companies and platforms Experian has partnered with, your rent payment information will be included on your Experian credit report — and if you're not, you can still benefit by having your other on-time monthly payments reported.
*Results may vary. Some may not see improved scores or approval odds. Not all lenders use Experian credit files, and not all lenders use scores impacted by Experian Boost.
Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly spelled Rod Griffin and the title of his position at Experian.