Though you can’t directly report your payment history to credit bureaus, you can self-report through third-party services. These companies, such as Experian Boost and Self, report your previous bill payments to the bureaus. However, there are some downsides to these services.
When it comes to credit, the age-old saying “you have to spend money to make money” definitely holds true — to get credit, you need to have credit first. If you’re just starting out, it can be difficult to get approved for traditional forms of credit if you don’t have any credit history. That’s where self-reporting comes in.
Self-reporting to the credit bureaus is a great way to help you build your credit score from the ground up or give it the boost it needs. By doing so, you’re essentially vouching for your own creditworthiness and proving to the credit agencies that you’re a responsible borrower. This can, in turn, help you qualify for better terms and rates on loans and lines of credit. By self-reporting your paymecreditnt activities on things like utility bills and rent, you can give yourself a boost in the right direction.
But what exactly is self-reporting, and how does it work? In this article, we’ll dive deep into the idea of self-reporting and how you can get started.
How does self-reporting work?
Believe it or not, you actually can “self-report” your financial activity to the three major credit bureaus… sort of. You can’t exactly pick up the phone and give them a call, but there are a few ways to get your info to them indirectly.
In general, if you have a good history of on-time payments, that will be reported to the credit bureaus by your data furnishers (like financial institutions, credit card issuers, and mortgage lenders). However, not every type of bill payment gets reported to the credit bureaus, such as rent and utilities. This is where self-reporting can come in handy.
Third-party services, like Experian Boost, Rental Kharma, and Self can help you build a positive credit history by reporting your on-time bill payments to the major credit bureaus. They do so by adding information (phone and rental payments) that isn’t usually taken into account by credit agencies to your credit report. This then allows you to build a positive credit history even if you don’t have a traditional line of credit, like a credit card or loan.
Credit builder programs
Here are some popular examples of third-party services that help you establish credit by reporting your on-time bill payments to credit agencies.
- Experian Boost. Experian Boost is a program that helps boost your credit score by adding positive payment history from your utilities and phone bills to your credit report. The service is free and available to anyone with an Experian account. All you need to do is link your Experian account to your bank account. According to Experian data, the average user who joins the program can see a credit score improvement of 13 points.
- Rental Kharma. For a $50 setup fee and an $8.95 monthly fee, Rental Kharma helps improve your credit score by reporting your past rent payments to TransUnion and Equifax.
- UltraFICO Score. With UltraFICO, your payment history, account balances, and other factors are taken into account to get a more complete picture of your financial health. This information is then used to generate a credit score that can be used by lenders to make decisions about loans and credit lines.
Self-reporting pros and cons
Similar to other types of financial products, there are pros and cons to self-reporting services.
Here is a list of the benefits and drawbacks to consider.
- A possible boost in credit score. One of the most obvious advantages of self-reporting to credit agencies is the potential boost in credit score. Though it’s not a guarantee, by showing that you’re managing your finances responsibly, you have a higher chance of improving your score.
- Helps build credit from scratch. With self-reporting services, you can link your bank account and get credit for your utility and cell phone payments. These are all payments that you’re probably already making, so it’s a great way to build credit without having to change your spending habits or apply for a new credit card.
- Some self-reporting services cost money. Though some self-reporting services are free to use, many of them charge ongoing monthly fees and set up costs. So before signing up, it’s important to consider whether paying for the service makes financial sense for your situation.
- Results might not reflect in all three credit reports. Most self-reporting services only report your positive payments to one or two of the three credit bureaus. For example, the payment activities recorded by Experian Boost will only reflect on your Experian credit report. This means if a lender were to pull your Equifax or TransUnion credit report, they won’t see an improvement in your credit history.
Self-reporting to credit bureaus isn’t the only way to improve your credit score. Here are some other methods you can consider to establish credit or get it back on track.
1. Use a secured credit card
As its name suggests, a secured credit card is a type of credit card that is secured by the cash deposit of the cardholder. This deposit acts as collateral if you default on your payments and reduces the risk for the credit card issuer.
Using a secured card responsibly can help improve your credit score by demonstrating your ability to manage credit wisely. Plus, building a positive credit history can help you qualify for better terms on future loans and lines of credit.
2. Consider a credit builder loan
A credit builder loan is the exact opposite of a traditional loan — you make monthly payments first, then you receive the loan amount at the end of the loan’s term. It exists for the sole purpose of building credit.
There are many credit builder loans on the market that’ll help boost credit scores. The Self credit builder account, for example, is a loan in a bank-held certificate of deposit that you pay off in monthly installments. Your on-time monthly payments will get reported to the major credit reporting agencies, which in turn helps build your credit.
3. Become an authorized user
You can actually improve your credit score by becoming an authorized user on someone else’s account. If you have a family member or close friend with good credit, you can ask them to add you as an authorized user on their account. This will help your credit file and improve your score.
Just make sure that the account is in good standing and that the payments are being made on time. Otherwise, you could risk damaging your credit score if the main user defaults on payments.
What is Self?
Self is a fintech company that helps consumers build credit. One of their most popular products is the Self credit builder account, which is an installment loan that helps build a positive payment history. Self also offers other products such as LevelCredit. This is a service that reports your rent, cell phone, and utility payments to the major credit bureaus.
How long does it take for Self to report?
Self reports your on-time payments to the credit bureaus on a monthly basis. In the first week of each month, Self sends a report that contains a snapshot of your Self account payment history to the credit agencies. It usually takes a few weeks for the credit agencies to update your credit report after they receive this information.
Does the Self app report to all three credit bureaus?
Yes, Self reports all of your monthly payments to the three credit bureaus — Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion.
- Though you can’t contact the three major credit bureaus directly to report your positive payment history, you can enlist the help of third-party services.
- Third-party self-reporting services like Experian Boost and Rental Kharma help improve your credit score by adding your past bill payments to your credit reports.
- Self-reporting is great for helping you establish credit or boost your credit score. However, most companies charge an ongoing fee for the service.
- Apart from using self-reporting services to build your credit file, you can also consider taking out a credit builder loan, applying for a secured credit card, or becoming an authorized user on someone else’s account.
View Article Sources
- 5 Tips for Improving Your Credit Score — Federal Reserve Board
- How do I dispute an error on my credit report? — Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
- How Much Will a Secured Credit Card Raise My Score? — SuperMoney
- How Many Credit Bureaus Are There in the United States? If You Answered 3, Try Again — SuperMoney
- Is it Necessary to Have a Credit Card to Build Credit? — SuperMoney
- How to Illegally Change Your Credit Score (And Why You Shouldn’t Try) — SuperMoney
- How to Build Credit at 18 — SuperMoney
- How to Use a Personal Loan to Build Credit — SuperMoney
- What Is In Your Credit Score? — SuperMoney
- 2021 Consumer Credit Card Industry Study — SuperMoney