6 Monthly Bills That Won't Affect Your Credit Score

By Dan Rafter on 19 June 2018 0 comments

What's the best way to keep your FICO credit score healthy? Simple: Pay your bills on time and don't rack up too much debt. Some bills, though, are more important to your credit score than others.

In fact, you might be surprised to learn that many of the payments you make every month have no direct impact on your traditional FICO credit score. That's because in order for a payment to boost your score, or a late payment to hurt it, it must be reported to at least one of the three national credit bureaus: Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. And many of the companies and service providers you pay off each month don't do this.

That's a mixed blessing. Making a payment late to these creditors won't necessarily hurt your score — unless you pay so late that the bill is sent to collections. On the other hand, paying these bills on time won't help your credit score, either. (See also: 5 Money Matters That Won't Affect Your Credit Score)

Which bills are not reported to the credit bureaus?

There are six common monthly bills that have no direct impact on your credit score. They are:

  • Utilities.

  • Insurance payments.

  • Bills from medical providers.

  • Cellphone payments.

  • Cable service.

  • Membership to health clubs or gyms.

If you're a few days late in paying your car insurance bill, don't panic. Your misstep won't hurt your credit score, just as paying your bill on time won't help it.

But that doesn't mean you can just ignore the bill. There are other consequences for late payments. You might face late fees, penalties, or even the cancellation of service. Your auto insurer, for instance, might charge you an extra $25 if you make your payment after a certain date. Your gym might cancel your membership. And both of those scenarios are still not as bad as if your provider sends your account into collections.

That's because, while a biller may not report payments directly to the credit bureaus, if you miss too many payments, they might send a debt collector after you. Once your account falls into the hands of a collections agency, this will be reported to the credit bureaus. Having an account in collections can cause your credit score to tumble by 100 points or more. (See also: Here's What Happens to an Account in Collections — Even When You Pay Up)

What about rent?

Apartment rent is a more complicated issue. In most cases, the rent you pay each month isn't reported to the credit bureaus. Paying your landlord on time every month usually doesn't provide a boost to your credit score.

There is a movement, though, to change this. The theory goes that renters should be rewarded for paying on time, just as homeowners are when they pay their mortgage bill each month.

Some landlords have begun reporting rents to the credit bureaus. And if you want to report your own rent payments, you can sign up for a rent-reporting service such as Rent Reporters or Rental Kharma.

These services are limited. Both Rent Reporters and Rental Kharma, for instance, only report rent payments to one of the credit bureaus, TransUnion. You'll also have to pay for these services. (See also: 7 Ways to Rent An Apartment With Bad Credit)

Some alternative credit scores do include other bills

As lenders try to expand their market reach, some are looking beyond the traditional FICO score to so-called alternative credit scores. Some of these scores include your behavior with the bills listed at the top of this story, or your management of checking and savings accounts. The FICO Score XD, for example, is for people who have such thin credit reports that they're unscorable by traditional methods. It relies on a consumer's utilities, cellphone, and other bills.

The number of lenders who look at alternative credit scores is still in the minority. But if you're applying for credit and have a limited credit record, it never hurts to ask that a lender take into consideration your good payment history on other types of bills. (See also: How Alternative Data Can Help Those With Little or No Credit)

Monthly payments that always impact your credit score

Some of the payments you make each month will always be reported to the credit bureaus. It's important to pay these on time each month if you don't want your credit score to drop. They are:

  • Credit card bills.

  • Home equity lines of credit.

  • Mortgage.

  • Auto loans.

  • Student loans.

  • Personal loans.

  • Home equity loans.

Note that revolving credit accounts — credit cards and lines of credit — carry more weight in your FICO score than installment loans.

Also, a payment isn't reported as late to the bureaus until you miss it by 30 days or more. Your two-week delay on your credit card payment won't show up in your credit reports.

However, you'll still be charged a late fee for being even one day late. And every day that you delay payment, interest charges mount. So, it still benefits you to make your payments on time, or as soon after the due date as you can. (See also: 5 Simple Ways to Never Make a Late Credit Card Payment)

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