How to Use Your Rent Payments to Build Good Credit

 June 8, 2020
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If you’re living in a rental apartment or house, and you’re conscientious about paying your rent on time and in full, you might wonder: Does rent affect credit score? If you’re looking to boost or build your credit, being a good tenant should help, right?

Historically, rent has not had much of an effect on your credit score. However, that has changed in recent years. Some newer services make it possible for those monthly rent payments to contribute to your credit history, just as a credit card or loan would. This can help you improve your credit, or build it up if you don’t have much, or any, history.

But this isn’t an automatic process. Here are some of the most commonly asked questions about how to build credit by paying rent:

Does paying rent build credit?
How you can build credit with rent?
Which services will help you self-report your rent?
What’s in the fine print of rent reporting services?
Will missed rent payments hurt my credit?
What other credit-building options are there?

Does paying rent build credit?

You don’t have a credit score that only reflects rent. That said, each of the major credit bureaus — Equifax, Experian and TransUnion — may list rental payment history on your credit report, as long as they receive the information. You must ensure your rent payments are reported to one or more of the bureaus so they can be included on your credit report.

Once that occurs, there are four credit-scoring models that use the rental payment history on your credit report when calculating your credit score. VantageScores 3.0 and 4.0 can include rental history in their scoring models, and two FICO-based scoring models, the FICO 9 and FICO XD, also allow this. Notably, however, the most commonly used FICO model, FICO Score 8, does not feature rent payments in its calculations.

That said, many future lenders and creditors you might work with will use a cross section of credit scores — VantageScore, FICO and others — to determine your creditworthiness.

How you can build credit with rent?

Having good credit can help you secure loans, credit cards and apartment rentals. A relatively easy way to build or boost credit through your rent is to have your payments logged with one of numerous rent-reporting companies, which will then turn the information over to the credit bureaus.

Some large property management companies may already be reporting rental payment information to the bureaus, but smaller landlords may be less familiar with the concept. Ask your landlord or management company if they are signed up with a company that reports rental data to any of the credit bureaus.

It may help if you provide your landlord with information about services with which they can work, particularly those that require them to opt in. Some of these services will even facilitate payments between you and your landlord or management company.

For example, Experian RentBureau works with electronic rent payment companies to allow your payments to be automatically deducted from your bank account and sent to your landlord’s account. This means no more direct payments from you to the landlord. This can benefit your landlord by encouraging timely payments from tenants. Then you may sign up through this service to have your rental payments reported to Experian. The services that Experian RentBureau works with include RentTrack, Rentler, eRentPayment and ClearNow.

Which services will help you self-report your rent?

If your landlord or management company is not interested in opting into a reporting service, here are some of the services you can use on your own to self-report your rent payments. Keep in mind, however, that some come at a cost.

  • Rental Kharma reports rent payments to TransUnion and gives renters the option of adding the past six months of payments to their credit reports. There is a flat registration fee of $50, and you can add a spouse or roommate for $25. It costs $8.95 monthly for ongoing reporting services, and $5 more per month if you have a spouse or roommate. You can also add your entire rental history at your current home — including that of your roommate or spouse — for $60.
  • Rent Reporters will retroactively report rent going back two years, paid for by a one-time enrollment fee of $94.95, which also covers landlord verification. The monthly subscription fee is $9.95, which covers ongoing reporting of rent payments.
  • Cozy allows you to report your rent payments to Experian through its app if you are making rent payments through its platform. Making rent payments through Cozy is free if you use your bank account. There is a 2.75% service charge if you use your debit or credit card. You can also buy extra services — such as background and credit checks, as well as renter’s insurance — from Cozy.
  • MoCaFi is a platform focused on providing services to the underbanked and helping them improve their credit. If you get a prepaid card with MoCaFi, you can use its app to report your rent payments to Equifax and TransUnion. You also have access to VantageScore Tracker by Equifax.
  • RentPayment is a free service that allows you to report your rent each month to TransUnion and build your credit.

What’s in the fine print of rent reporting services?

As with any service, make sure you read the fine print of any payment service and look at the particulars of any given agreement before you sign up — even the free ones.

Confirm how a rental reporting agency will protect your personal information, verify which credit bureau your rent will be reported to and how long it will take to appear on your credit report. Also ensure you understand what you’ll have to pay for the service and what its cancellation policies are.

Once you sign up with a rent reporting service, you can eventually check to see how your payments show up on your credit reports, depending on which bureau or bureaus the platform reports to. You are entitled to one free credit report each year from all three of the main bureaus, which you can get at www.annualcreditreport.com.

Will missed rent payments hurt my credit?

It’s more likely that reporting your rent payments will have a positive rather than a negative effect on your credit score, if it has any significant effect. Late rent payments may not show up on your credit report at all if you are using a rent payment and reporting service. For example, Cozy notes that your report will simply show “no activity” for the month if you skip a payment, instead of showing it as late.

That said, your credit can still be dinged by a failure to pay your rent. That’s because your landlord may send your unpaid rent debts to a collections agency, which may then report this to the credit bureaus. Your credit can suffer for up to seven years from having an account in collections.

So whether you use a rent reporting service or not, you should always:

  1. Pay your rent on time and in full: Just as with a credit card or loan payment, always pay your rent on time (the earlier, the better).
  2. Stay on budget: You have to be able to afford your rent in order to make on-time payments. According to the 50/30/20 budget rule, no more than 50% of your monthly take-home pay should include housing expenses. And if your rent takes up the full 50%, you may be paying too much.

Also know that simply looking for an apartment or home to rent doesn’t hurt your credit, but landlords will often do a hard credit inquiry once you apply to rent a place. This can slightly ding your credit, although one inquiry shouldn’t have too much of a negative effect.

Overall, having a strong credit score will help you more easily secure a rental. Having a low score or no credit history may mean you have to have a cosigner or guarantor in order to rent a home.

What other credit-building options are there?

What are some options other than rent reporting that can help you build your credit?

Even if you don’t qualify for a regular credit card, try a secured credit card, which is designed to help those with bad or no credit build up a solid credit history.

You might also consider building your credit through a savings account. Self’s Credit Builder, for example, is a service that provides a “loan” that the company holds in a certificate of deposit account for a year.

Over the year, you can make on-time monthly payments toward this loan, and these payments are reported to the major credit bureaus. Once the loan is paid off, you can withdraw the funds from the CD.

You can also check some other tips on how to build good credit from scratch.

Rebecca Stropoli contributed to this report

Interested in refinancing student loans?

Here are the top 9 lenders of 2022!
LenderVariable APREligible Degrees 
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1.74% – 7.99%3Undergrad
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1.89% – 5.90%4Undergrad
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Visit Laurel Road

1.74% – 7.99%5Undergrad
& Graduate

Visit NaviRefi

2.05% – 5.25%6Undergrad
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Visit Lendkey

1.86% – 6.01%Undergrad
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Visit Elfi

N/A7Undergrad
& Graduate

Visit PenFed

1.99% – 8.38%8Undergrad
& Graduate

Visit Citizens

Check out the testimonials and our in-depth reviews!
1 Important Disclosures for Splash Financial.

Splash Financial Disclosures

Terms and Conditions apply. Splash reserves the right to modify or discontinue products and benefits at any time without notice. Rates and terms are also subject to change at any time without notice. Offers are subject to credit approval. To qualify, a borrower must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident in an eligible state and meet applicable underwriting requirements. Not all borrowers receive the lowest rate. Lowest rates are reserved for the highest qualified borrowers. If approved, your actual rate will be within a range of rates and will depend on a variety of factors, including term of loan, a responsible financial history, income and other factors. Refinancing or consolidating private and federal student loans may not be the right decision for everyone. Federal loans carry special benefits not available for loans made through Splash Financial, for example, public service loan forgiveness and economic hardship programs, fee waivers and rebates on the principal, which may not be accessible to you after you refinance. The rates displayed may include a 0.25% autopay discount

The information you provide to us is an inquiry to determine whether we or our lenders can make a loan offer that meets your needs. If we or any of our lending partners has an available loan offer for you, you will be invited to submit a loan application to the lender for its review. We do not guarantee that you will receive any loan offers or that your loan application will be approved. Offers are subject to credit approval and are available only to U.S. citizens or permanent residents who meet applicable underwriting requirements. Not all borrowers will receive the lowest rates, which are available to the most qualified borrowers. Participating lenders, rates and terms are subject to change at any time without notice.

To check the rates and terms you qualify for, Splash Financial conducts a soft credit pull that will not affect your credit score. However, if you choose a product and continue your application, the lender will request your full credit report from one or more consumer reporting agencies, which is considered a hard credit pull and may affect your credit.

Splash Financial and our lending partners reserve the right to modify or discontinue products and benefits at any time without notice. To qualify, a borrower must be a U.S. citizen and meet our lending partner’s underwriting requirements. Lowest rates are reserved for the highest qualified borrowers. This information is current as of May 4, 2022.


2 Rate range above includes optional 0.25% Auto Pay discount. Important Disclosures for Earnest.

Earnest Disclosures

Student Loan Refinance Interest Rate Disclosure Actual rate and available repayment terms will vary based on your income. Fixed rates range from 2.99% APR to 8.24% APR (excludes 0.25% Auto Pay discount). Variable rates range from 1.99% APR to 8.24% APR (excludes 0.25% Auto Pay discount). Earnest variable interest rate student loan refinance loans are based on a publicly available index, the 30-day Average Secured Overnight Financing Rate (SOFR) published by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. The variable rate is based on the rate published on the 25th day, or the next business day, of the preceding calendar month, rounded to the nearest hundredth of a percent. The rate will not increase more than once per month. The maximum rate for your loan is 8.95% if your loan term is 10 years or less. For loan terms of more than 10 years to 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 9.95%. For loan terms over 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 11.95%. Please note, we are not able to offer variable rate loans in AK, IL, MN, NH, OH, TN, and TX. Let us know if you have any questions and feel free to reach out directly to our team.


3 Important Disclosures for SoFi.

SoFi Disclosures

Fixed rates range from 3.49% APR to 7.99% APR with a 0.25% autopay discount. Variable rates from 1.74% APR to 7.99% APR with a 0.25% autopay discount. Unless required to be lower to comply with applicable law, Variable Interest rates on 5-, 7-, and 10-year terms are capped at 8.95% APR; 15- and 20-year terms are capped at 9.95% APR. Your actual rate will be within the range of rates listed above and will depend on the term you select, evaluation of your creditworthiness, income, presence of a co-signer and a variety of other factors. Lowest rates reserved for the most creditworthy borrowers. For the SoFi variable-rate product, the variable interest rate for a given month is derived by adding a margin to the 30-day average SOFR index, published two business days preceding such calendar month, rounded up to the nearest one hundredth of one percent (0.01% or 0.0001). APRs for variable-rate loans may increase after origination if the SOFR index increases. The SoFi 0.25% autopay interest rate reduction requires you to agree to make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic monthly deduction from a savings or checking account. This benefit will discontinue and be lost for periods in which you do not pay by automatic deduction from a savings or checking account. The benefit lowers your interest rate but does not change the amount of your monthly payment. This benefit is suspended during periods of deferment and forbearance. Autopay is not required to receive a loan from SoFi.


4 Important Disclosures for Laurel Road.

Laurel Road Disclosures

All credit products are subject to credit approval.

Laurel Road began originating student loans in 2013 and has since helped thousands of professionals with undergraduate and postgraduate degrees consolidate and refinance more than $4 billion in federal and private school loans. Laurel Road also offers a suite of online graduate school loan products and personal loans that help simplify lending through customized technology and personalized service. In April 2019, Laurel Road was acquired by KeyBank, one of the nation’s largest bank-based financial services companies. Laurel Road is a brand of KeyBank National Association offering online lending products in all 50 U.S. states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico. All loans are provided by KeyBank National Association, a nationally chartered bank. Member FDIC. For more information, visit www.laurelroad.com.

As used throughout these Terms & Conditions, the term “Lender” refers to KeyBank National Association and its affiliates, agents, guaranty insurers, investors, assigns, and successors in interest.

  1. Checking your rate with Laurel Road only requires a soft credit pull, which will not affect your credit score. To proceed with an application, a hard credit pull will be required, which may affect your credit score.
  2. Savings vary based on rate and term of your existing and refinanced loan(s). Refinancing to a longer term may lower your monthly payments, but may also increase the total interest paid over the life of the loan. Refinancing to a shorter term may increase your monthly payments, but may lower the total interest paid over the life of the loan. Review your loan documentation for total cost of your refinanced loan.
  3. After loan disbursement, if a borrower documents a qualifying economic hardship, we may agree in our discretion to allow for full or partial forbearance of payments for one or more 3-month time periods (not to exceed 12 months in the aggregate during the term of your loan), provided that we receive acceptable documentation (including updating documentation) of the nature and expected duration of the borrower’s economic hardship. During any period of forbearance interest will continue to accrue. At the end of the forbearance period, any unpaid accrued interest will be capitalized and be added to the remaining principle amount of the loan.
  4. Automatic Payment (“AutoPay”) Discount: if the borrower chooses to make monthly payments automatically from a bank account, the interest rate will decrease by 0.25% and will increase back if the borrower stops making (or we stop accepting) monthly payments automatically from the borrower’s bank account. The 0.25% AutoPay discount will not reduce the monthly payment; instead, the discount is applied to the principal to help pay the loan down faster.

Assumptions: Repayment examples above assume a loan amount of $10,000 with repayment beginning immediately following disbursement. Repayment examples do not include the 0.25% AutoPay Discount.

Annual Percentage Rate (“APR”): This term represents the actual cost of financing to the borrower over the life of the loan expressed as a yearly rate.

Interest Rate: A simple annual rate that is applied to an unpaid balance.

Variable Rates: The current index for variable rate loans is derived from the one-month London Interbank Offered Rate (“LIBOR”) and changes in the LIBOR index may cause your monthly payment to increase. Borrowers who take out a term of 5, 7, or 10 years will have a maximum interest rate of 9%, those who take out a 15 or 20-year variable loan will have a maximum interest rate of 10%.

KEYBANK NATIONAL ASSOCIATION RESERVES THE RIGHT TO MODIFY OR DISCONTINUE PRODUCTS AND BENEFITS AT ANY TIME WITHOUT NOTICE.

This information is current as of April 29, 2021. Information and rates are subject to change without notice.
 


5 Important Disclosures for Navient.

Navient Disclosures

You can choose between fixed and variable rates. Fixed interest rates are 2.99% – 8.24% APR (2.74% – 7.99% APR with Auto Pay discount). Starting variable interest rates are 1.99% APR to 8.24% APR (1.74% – 7.99% APR with Auto Pay discount). Variable rates are based on an index, the 30-day Average Secured Overnight Financing Rate (SOFR) plus a margin. Variable rates are reset monthly based on the fluctuation of the index. We do not currently offer variable rate loans in AK, CO, CT, HI, IL, KY, MA, MN, MS, NH, OH, OK, SC, TN, TX, and VA.


6 Important Disclosures for LendKey.

LendKey Disclosures

Refinancing via LendKey.com is only available for applicants with qualified private education loans from an eligible institution. Loans that were used for exam preparation classes, including, but not limited to, loans for LSAT, MCAT, GMAT, and GRE preparation, are not eligible for refinancing with a lender via LendKey.com. If you currently have any of these exam preparation loans, you should not include them in an application to refinance your student loans on this website. Applicants must be either U.S. citizens or Permanent Residents in an eligible state to qualify for a loan. Certain membership requirements (including the opening of a share account and any applicable association fees in connection with membership) may apply in the event that an applicant wishes to accept a loan offer from a credit union lender. Lenders participating on LendKey.com reserve the right to modify or discontinue the products, terms, and benefits offered on this website at any time without notice. LendKey Technologies, Inc. is not affiliated with, nor does it  endorse,  any educational institution.

Subject to floor rate and may require the automatic payments be made from a checking or savings account with the lender. The rate reduction will be removed and the rate will be increased by 0.25% upon any cancellation or failed collection attempt of the automatic payment and will be suspended during any period of deferment or forbearance. As a result, during the forbearance or suspension period, and/or if the automatic payment is canceled, any increase will take the form of higher payments. The lowest advertised variable APR is only available for loan terms of  5 years and is reserved for applicants with FICO scores of at least 810.

As of 5/17/2022 student loan refinancing rates range from 2.05% APR – 5.25% Variable APR with AutoPay and 2.49% APR – 7.93% Fixed APR with AutoPay.


7 Important Disclosures for PenFed.

PenFed Disclosures

Fixed Rate Loan Terms: 5 years/60 monthly payments, 8 years/96 monthly payments, 12 years/144 monthly payments or 15 years/180 monthly payments. Annual Percentage Rate is the cost of credit calculating the interest rate, loan amount, repayment term and the timing of payments. Fixed rates range from 3.29% to 5.43% APR. Rates are subject to change without notice. Fixed APR: Fixed rates will not change during the term. This rate is expressed as an APR. Since there are no fees associated with this loan offer, the APR is the same percentage as the actual interest rate of the loan. These rates are subject to additional terms and conditions, and rates are subject to change at any time without notice. Such changes will only apply to applications taken after the effective date of change.


8 Important Disclosures for CitizensBank.

CitizensBank Disclosures

Education Refinance Loan Rate Disclosure:  Variable interest rates range from 1.99%-8.38% (1.99%-8.38% APR). Fixed  interest rates range from 2.99%-8.63% (2.99%-8.63% APR).

IS Variable Rate Disclosure:  Variable Rates advertised are based on the one-month London Interbank  Offered Rate (“LIBOR”) published in The Wall Street Journal on the twenty-fifth day, or the next business  day, of the preceding calendar month. As of December 1, 2021, the one-month LIBOR rate is 0.09%.  Variable interest rates will fluctuate over the term of the loan with changes in the LIBOR rate, and will  vary based on applicable terms, level of degree and presence of a co-signer. Your final variable rate may  be based upon the 30-day average SOFR index, as published by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.  The maximum variable rate is the greater of 21.00% or Prime Rate plus 9.00%.

ERL Variable Rate Disclosure: Variable interest rates are based on the 30-day average Secured Overnight Financing Rate (“SOFR”) index, as published by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. As of May 1, 2022, the 30-day average SOFR index is 0.29%. Variable interest rates will fluctuate over the term of the loan with changes in the SOFR index, and will vary based on applicable terms, level of degree and presence of a co-signer. The maximum variable interest rate is the greater of 21.00% or the prime rate plus 9.00%.

Fixed Rate Disclosure: Fixed rate ranges are based on applicable terms, level of degree, and presence of a co-signer.

Lowest Rate Disclosure: Lowest rates are only available for the most creditworthy applicants, require a 5-year repayment term, immediate repayment, a graduate or medical degree (where applicable), and include our Loyalty and Automatic Payment discounts of 0.25 percentage points each, as outlined in the Loyalty Discount and Automatic Payment Discount disclosures. Rates are subject to additional terms and conditions, and are subject to change at any time without notice. Such changes will only apply to applications taken after the effective date of change.

Federal Loan vs. Private Loan Benefits:  Some federal student loans include unique benefits that the borrower may not receive with a private student loan, some of which we do not offer. Borrowers should carefully review federal benefits, especially if they work in public service, are in the military, are considering possible loan forgiveness options, are currently on or considering income based repayment options or are concerned about a steady source of future income and would want to lower their payments at some time in the future. When the borrower refinances, they waive any current and potential future benefits of their federal loans. For more information about federal student loan benefits and federal loan consolidation, visit http://studentaid.ed.gov/. We also have several resources available to help the borrower make a decision on our website including Should I Refinance My Student Loans? and our FAQs. Should I Refinance My Student Loans? includes a comparison of federal and private student loan benefits that we encourage the borrower to review.
 
Citizens Student Loan Eligibility: : Applicants must be enrolled at least half-time in a degree-granting program at an eligible institution.
 
Loyalty Discount Disclosure: The borrower will be eligible for a 0.25 percentage point interest rate reduction on their loan if the borrower or their co-signer (if applicable) has a qualifying account in existence with us at the time the borrower and their co-signer (if applicable) have submitted a completed application authorizing us to review their credit request for the loan. The following are qualifying accounts: any checking account, savings account, money market account, certificate of deposit, automobile loan, home equity loan, home equity line of credit, mortgage, credit card account, or other student loans owned by Citizens Bank, N.A. Please note, our checking and savings account options are only available in the following states: CT, DC, DE, FL, MA, MD, MI, NH, NJ, NY, OH, PA, RI, VA, and VT and some products may have an associated cost. This discount will be reflected in the interest rate disclosed in the Loan Approval Disclosure that will be provided to the borrower once the loan is approved. Limit of one Loyalty Discount per loan and discount will not be applied to prior loans. The Loyalty Discount will remain in effect for the life of the loan.
 
Automatic Payment Discount Disclosure:Borrowers will be eligible to receive a 0.25 percentage point interest rate reduction on their student loans owned by Citizens Bank, N.A. during such time as payments are required to be made and our loan servicer is authorized to automatically deduct payments each month from any bank account the borrower designates. Discount is not available when payments are not due, such as during forbearance. If our loan servicer is unable to successfully withdraw the automatic deductions from the designated account three or more times within any 12-month period, the borrower will no longer be eligible for this discount. Borrowers will be eligible to receive a 0.25 percentage point interest rate reduction on  their student loans owned by Citizens Bank, N.A. during such time as payments are required to be made and our loan  servicer is authorized to automatically deduct payments each month from any bank account the borrower designates. Discount is not available when payments are not due, such as during forbearance. If our loan servicer is unable to  successfully withdraw the automatic deductions from the designated account three or more times within any 12-month  period, the borrower will no longer be eligible for this discount.