How to Self-Report to Credit Bureaus [Ultimate Guide for 2021]

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Have you noticed that your credit score is unusually low, even though you’re paying all your bills and rent on time? Well, there’s a reason for that, as well as a way to fix these types of omissions typically made by credit bureaus.
In this article, we will explain why certain information does not get reported on its own, why you should consider self-reporting as a personal measure for credit score growth, and how to self-report to credit bureaus.

What Is Self-Reporting

First off, self-reporting isn’t exactly what the term entails. As an individual, you do not have the right to contact the credit reporting agencies (Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian) in order to send them information regarding your credit and payments. The only entity that can do that is an officially recognized “data furnisher”, which in this case would be a bank, credit union, mortgage lender, credit card issuer, debt collection agency, etc.

So, what does self-reporting actually entail, and how do you report to credit agencies? Self-reporting is a process involving a third-party service that will report your payments to all three credit bureaus. This is an option for individuals who’ve noticed that not all of their payments are being reported to the credit bureaus (you can check your credit reports for free on AnnualCreditReport.com on a weekly basis until April 2022).

DID YOU KNOW: Have you ever wondered, who can report to credit bureaus other than banks, lenders, and credit unions? Well, small businesses can become data furnishers too! If a business allows its customers to pay in installments or gives them lines of credit, it can pass their payment histories to the credit reporting agencies.

What Type of Information You Can Report to Credit Bureaus

Credit bureaus automatically gather this type of information: student loans, personal loans, auto loans, mortgages, and credit cards. However, the following information is not taken into account, and could potentially make a big difference on your overall credit score:

Paying Rent

Can pay the rent build credit? Yes. Rent is something that is usually not taken into account when updating your credit report, which is unusual because for many it can be the biggest monthly expense. Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion are willing to include rent payments in your credit reports if you report them. With that being said, not all credit scoring systems, such as FICO and VantageScore, take rental payments into consideration. For example:

  • Newer versions of FICO (FICO 9 and FICO 10) do take rent payments into account;
  • When reporting rent to credit bureaus, the most used versions of FICO don’t consider rent payments;
  • VantageScore does calculate rent payments as well

When choosing a rent-reporting service, there are a few aspects that you need to keep in mind, such as:

Does your property manager already use a service for reporting rent to credit bureaus? If so, it will save you a lot of time and money.

  • Which credit bureaus do the service report to?
  • Will you have free access to credit scores such as FICO or VantageScore?
  • Are the overall costs within your budget?
  • When can you expect the information to appear on your credit report?
  • How are cases where your lease is disputed/broken handled?

Bills (Cellphone, Streaming Services, Utilities)

Bills are a tricky payment subcategory. Do utilities affect credit? They do. Late payments on bills such as utilities, phone bills, and bills for streaming services are reported to the credit bureaus in the form of delinquencies (if you’re 30 days past due), which can harm your credit score and you’ll ultimately have to work outhow to erase those negative items from your credit report. Timely payments, on the other hand, are not reported automatically and therefore cannot improve your credit score.

That is why it’s wise to choose a reporting service that will do the reporting to the credit bureau for you. Some credit bureaus such as Experian offer specific services that can help you report these types of bill payments. Experian Boost was designed specifically to get your positive cellphone, streaming service, and utility bills payment history onto your Experian credit report.

DID YOU KNOW: A person’s payment history makes up the biggest part of the credit score, so taking preventative measures such as paying bills in a timely manner is the easiest way to improve your credit score.

Key Takeaways

Can an individual report to the credit bureau? As an individual, you cannot contact the credit reporting agencies in order to send them information about your credit and payments.
Self-reporting is a process that involves a third-party service that will report your payments to all three credit bureaus.
Credit bureaus automatically gather information about student loans and credit card payments but do not take rent payments and bills into consideration.
Rental payments are taken into consideration only by the FICO 9 and FICO 10 scoring models and VantageScore.
Late payments on bills show up on your credit report as delinquencies, but your positive payments can only be self-reported.

How to Self-Report to Credit Bureaus

Individuals cannot self-report by themselves. In order to self-report, they would need to use third-party services that can do the reporting for them. There are multiple services that can do this for you, but they all specialize in specific areas, such as rent reporting or reporting your utility payments. Some of the best options for utilizing your nontraditional payments for your credit score are:

UltraFICO

UltraFICO, created by FICO, Experian, and Finicity, is an alternative credit scoring model which takes your bank account information into consideration. This model also encompasses information not usually gathered by traditional credit scoring models.

By connecting your bank account, be it checking, money market, or savings account, you’ll have the following information taken into consideration for your alternative UltraFICO credit score:

  • The longevity of the account
  • Banking transactions frequency
  • Amount of cash on hand
  • Positive balance history

If you want to start using your UltraFICO score, you first have to apply for credit. When applying, you can ask for your UltraFICO score to be taken into consideration instead of your regular FICO score.

Experian Boost

Through Experian’s specialized reporting service Experian Boost, you can add the data that doesn’t traditionally get evaluated by the credit bureaus such as utility bills and cell phone bills history. Through this service, you can easily learn how to add utility bills to your credit report and increase your credit score.

What Experian Boost requires is for you to connect your checking account i.e. the account you use to pay bills (utility, cell phone, and streaming services). Afterward, you will have the option to choose which on-time payments you want to add to your Experian credit report.

Experian Boost’s basic membership package is completely free, which is a great offer. However, the service comes with its limitations – there’s no rent payment reporting and no updating of the other two major credit bureau’s credit reports.

Experian RentBureau

Experian offers a service called RentBureau where the best rent reporting companies and landlords can report rent payments directly to Experian. This is a great option if you’re a user of one of the following payment services: RentTrack, eRentPayment, PayLease, Rentler, PayYourRent, ClearNow, Cozy, RentReporters, and Rental Kharma.

Experian RentBureau gets rental payment history data from collection companies, property owners, and even electronic rent payment services. This is a free-of-charge service provided by Experian for your Experian credit report.

RentReporters

RentReporters uses a unique rent-reporting setup that might work in favor of those who do not want to pay rent online or have to change the way they currently pay rent. RentReporters works with both the renters and their landlords.

They first verify with your landlord that your payment was made and report it only to TransUnion. You have to initiate the request, then pay your rent directly to your landlord as usual as well as a RentReporters fee, making it very easy to report payments to the credit bureau. Your payments show up on your TransUnion credit report in just a matter of days. Afterward, you will receive your new VantageScore 3.0 credit score.

RentReporters has a $94.95 setup fee, with an additional $9.95 a month for ongoing reporting costs. This service also allows you to add previous landlords for a price of $50 each.

LevelCredit

LevelCredit is a rental reporting agency that takes rent payment information from your linked financial account and offers to report to two out of the three major credit reporting agencies, more specifically Equifax and TransUnion. In addition, the service also provides utility payment reporting, but exclusively to TransUnion.

LevelCredit costs add up to $6.95 per month. With a subscription, you can track your credit score (VantageScore 3.0 based on TransUnion data) and credit report via its website’s dashboard, as well as receive tips and tricks on how to build credit. According to LevelCredit, the service uses bank-level security to encrypt all information.

Rental Kharma

Rental Kharma is a rental reporting agency that reports only to TransUnion for a specific fee. This type of information appears as a tradeline on your final credit report, more specifically it can either be classified as a “rental agreement” or an “open” account.

Similar to RentReporters, Rental Kharma is one of the best rent reporting companies. It’s important to remember, however, that it’s not a payment platform, meaning you cannot pay your rent through it. It is up to the landlord to confirm with the company whether you’ve made your payment on time or not. The enrollment fee is $50, with an ongoing monthly cost of $8.95.

DID YOU KNOW: If your credit score is very low, self-reporting is not likely to help improve your credit score very much. Check out some trusted credit repair companies that can walk you through the process and help you get back on track.

Pros of Self-Reporting

With all doubts cleared on how to self-report to credit bureaus, it’s time to go over the pros of doing so.

It Increases Your Credit Score

Naturally, the biggest advantage of self-reporting is that it can help you fix your credit score. Your payment history can take up a big chunk of your credit report, and can ultimately be the deciding factor when credit bureaus calculate your overall credit score. The bottom line is that payment reporting builds credit over time. However, credit scores are calculated using specific scoring models, and some of the newer or older versions vary in the information they ultimately take into consideration. For example, FICO’s most used version doesn’t consider rent payments, but all VantageScore versions do.

It Helps in Getting Your First Credit Card/Loan

We mentioned that payment reporting builds credit, but it also helps to get your first credit card or take out a loan. Taking control of your payment history and how much of it shows up on your credit report can ultimately prove to be very beneficial. The same goes for applying to rent a house or an apartment. Although you might be making all of your payments on time and have no delinquencies on record, credit card issuers and landlords might be ultimately persuaded by the accounts you’ve self-reported such as past on-time rent payments and positive utility bill payments.

Cons of Self-Reporting

Although self-reporting has a number of pros and can ultimately only benefit your credit score, there are a few downsides as well that all individuals looking to use reporting services should consider.

Can Be Pricey

As with any service of this kind, the prices can add up. Prices vary between $6.95 and $100, depending on the type of service you choose and how reputable it is. For some, reporting to a credit bureau might be quite costly in the long run, despite its benefits.

You’re Sending Already Known Information to Credit Bureaus

Not all of the information you send will be accepted onto your credit report, and even if it is, it might ultimately not be taken into account by the scoring model used. For information such as rent payments, you can end up paying for information that the credit bureaus already have. This is the case if your landlord already does report payments to the credit bureau or his/her company is a data furnisher itself and sends information on your payments on a monthly basis.

DID YOU KNOW: Another option for building credit is getting a credit builder loan. This is a great option for people with little to no credit and it can jumpstart your credit score if you fulfill all the requirements.

Conclusion

Your credit score is mainly calculated from the traditional data collected by the three major credit bureaus. However, your rent payments, utility, cable, and cell phone payments are usually discarded from your final credit report. This is why you should use credit bureau reporting services in order to include all these positive payments. Self-reporting increases your credit score and can be of great help when taking out your first loan or credit card.

FAQ

Do self-reported accounts affect credit score?

Yes, self-reporting can pay off if you’re regularly reporting your on-time payments such as utility bills and rent. This is done via a reporting service such as UltraFICO, Experian Boost, Experian RentBureau, etc.

How much does it cost to report to a credit bureau?

Credit bureau reporting services can have varying prices, ranging from $6.95 to upwards of $100. It all depends on which service you’ll be using and for what purpose. However, you must remember that self-reporting can only improve your credit score.

Can a private party report to a credit bureau?

As an individual, you are not legally allowed to self-report information to the credit bureaus. The only entities that can do that are the so-called data furnishers, e.g. banks, credit unions, mortgage lenders, credit card issuers, etc., or reporting services that work with individuals and report their payments for them.

How long does it take for a self report to get to a credit bureau?

Any type of reporting is usually done on a monthly basis, and the results should show up on your credit report in the following 30 days. If you’re wondering how to self-report to credit bureaus, some self-reporting services allow you to report payment information from the past 24 months. The whole process should take no more than 5 minutes.

ABOUT AUTHOR

I learned a lot about finance after working for a digital marketing company specializing in investing and trading stocks, forex, etc. After that, I got exposed to other verticals such as wealth management and personal finance, which further improved my understanding of the financial world.

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