If you’re just starting out with credit, working your way towards a higher credit score can be challenging. Getting a credit card is one option but you run the risk of ending up in debt if you’re not able to pay off what you charge in full each month. Fortunately, there’s another way adults can build credit: paying their rent.
Rent reporting is a relatively new way to establish or improve your credit score but it can be effective if you know what you’re doing. Keep reading to learn how to use your rent payments as a stepping stone to a better credit rating.
1. Sign up with a rent reporting service
To build credit with rent payments, you first have to sign up with a rent reporting service. These companies collect information about your rent payments and then report that to the three major credit reporting bureaus–Equifax, Experian and TransUnion–on your behalf. Some rent reporting companies report to just one bureau while others pass on your information onto all three.
RentalKharma, for example, reports to TransUnion. You can add up to 24 months of payment history to your credit report, which is great if you’ve been renting for awhile and paying on time consistently.
Tip: Look for companies that offer rent reporting to the credit bureaus you’re hoping to target. While you’re at it, see if a particular company offers any extras. RentTrack, for example, offers members a credit dashboard so you can see how different financial habits affect your credit rating.
2. Verify your renter status
Once you’ve signed up with a rent reporting service, the next step is to verify your account. This means the rent reporting service connects with your landlord to make sure that the information you’ve provided is correct.
Some rent reporting services don’t charge a fee verification while others do. RentalKharma members, for example, pay a one-time $40 verification fee at the outset to set up their account and verify their information.