At a Glance
When you have a good credit score, you’ll get access to some of the best credit cards and lower interest rates on loans. That’s why you should work to get (and keep) your credit score as high as possible.
There are several ways you can improve your score, such as maintaining a low debt-to-income ratio, keeping lines of credit open, and avoiding applying for multiple lines of credit at once. Payment history makes up the largest part of your score, so making your payments on time every month can also be a big help. However, not all of your monthly payments are reported so they don’t have an impact on your score.
That’s why some people self-report their payments.
In this article, you’ll learn:
What is self-reporting?
The term “self-reporting” is a little misleading, because you technically do not have the right to contact the credit bureaus (Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion) to send them information regarding your credit and payments. Instead, to self-report, you’d work with an entity like a bank, credit union, mortgage lender, credit card issuer, etc. These are called “data furnishers.”
During the self-reporting process, the third-party reporting service you choose will report additional payments to all three credit bureaus. The payments you’re reporting aren’t typically reported and don’t usually impact your credit, which is why you must self-report them to help your score.
How to self-report your credit?
First, you’ll want to research third-party services that will report your credit. Find one that fits with your budget, reports to all three credit bureaus, and has good customer service. Then, you’ll sign up for the reporting service itself.
Then, you’ll likely need to link the accounts or bills that you want to be reported. In some cases, this could be the bank or credit card account that you use to pay those bills. Once they are set up, the reporting service will regularly scan the accounts for evidence of your payments.
Some services will even retroactively scan your account history going back as far as 24 months, so you’d immediately get 24 months of payments added to your score.
Rent reporting services may contact your landlord each month to confirm you paid your rent on time, or ask your landlord to set up an account with that service.
Consider services like:
1. UltraFICO, created by FICO, Experian, and Finicity. This considers your bank account information and considers the longevity of the account, banking transactions, cash on hand, and positive balance history.
2. Experian Boost, which is Experian’s specialized reporting service. You must connect your checking account/account you use to pay bills, and then you can choose which payments you want to add to your report. This service is free, but it does not report this information to the other two credit bureaus.
3. Experian RentBureau is also offered by Experian. This service allows rent reporting companies and landlords to report rent payments directly to Experian.
4. LevelCredit is a rental reporting agency that takes payment information from your linked financial account and reports it to Equifax and Transunion. It also provides utility payment reporting to TransUnion. There is a monthly subscription fee, but it allows you to track your credit score and report via its dashboard.
What type of credit can I report to a credit bureau?
Credit bureaus already collect information from personal loans, student loans, auto loans, mortgages, and credit cards. However, there are some pieces of information they don’t look at, and therefore there’s no impact on your credit score. Instead, you must self-report them, but they could potentially make a big impact:
1. Rental payment
Rent typically isn’t taken into account when it comes to your credit score, but for many, it’s the biggest (and one of the most important) monthly expenses. However, if you’re willing to report them, the credit bureaus are willing to include them in calculating your score.
Keep in mind that some scoring models, such as FICO 9 and FICO 10, do not consider rent payments.
Start by asking your property manager if they already use a service for reporting rent to credit bureaus. Otherwise, be sure to ask which credit bureaus the service reports to, if you have free access to your score and credit reports, and how much it will cost.
2. Cell phone, utility payment, streaming services, and other monthly bills
If you’re 30 days past due on your utilities, phone bill, streaming service bill, or similar payment, the delinquency is reported to the credit bureaus and it can negatively impact your score. However, unfortunately, timely payments are not reported automatically so they don’t help.
This is why you may want to self-report these payments. Some services, such as Experian Boost, were designed specifically for these positive bill payments to be reported in your payment history.
Pros and cons of self-reporting
|Boost your credit score||May not make a huge difference in your score|
|Does not require taking on new debt||Not all services report to all three bureaus|
|Increase the number of positive accounts on your credit report||Different scoring models don’t consider self-reported payments|
|Services may charge fees|
|Not all the information you send will be accepted|
Creditors and credit bureaus reporting
Creditors and lenders, including banks, credit unions, and credit card companies, must pay to report information to the credit bureaus. Because of this, some creditors and lenders may choose to only report to one or two instead of all three.
When information is provided to only one credit bureau, it’s not given to the others so not all three receive the same information about your payment history. Information is also received from different sources. This is why your credit score may differ depending on which credit bureau is reporting it.
Typically, creditors report to the bureaus every month, but the days may not be the same so your credit report is continually updated.
When you sign up to work with a third party, you’ll link your accounts or bills that you want to be reported to the bureaus. The reporting service agency will then scan the accounts to see evidence of your payments, and send that information to the credit bureaus. Or, they may contact your landlord directly.
You should get a copy of your credit report at least once a year for a few reasons. First, it can give you a good understanding of factors that are positively and negatively impacting your credit score. Then, you can make adjustments if necessary. You can also monitor the report for errors.
Payment history makes up 35% of your credit score, so paying your bills on time every month can make a major positive impact.
No, technically you cannot report your payments directly to the credit bureaus. Instead, you must work with a bank, credit union, or other financial institution that offers these services, or a third-party reporting service.
This depends on the company. Some lenders report payments every month, while others report quarterly. Others report on a rolling basis, so it would be updated very shortly after you make the payment.