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How to improve your credit with eCredable

If you have a thin – or nonexistent – credit history, eCredable can help you boost your score quickly

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Published: November 13, 2020

Ted Rossman

Author:
Ted Rossman

Summary

By tracking your utility payments, eCredable adds an extra element to your credit report, which can significantly increase your TransUnion score.

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Building credit is more of a marathon than a sprint. You’ll need to pay your bills on time long term and prove that you can successfully manage different types of loans and lines of credit without racking up too much debt.

That said, there are some ways to jump start the process. These include getting on someone else’s credit card account as an authorized user, signing up for Experian Boost and lowering your credit utilization ratio.

Read more from our credit card experts.

Ask Ted a question.

The tactic that I want to focus on today is signing up for eCredable Lift. It’s an Experian Boost competitor that I believe has even more to offer. eCredable pulls utility information into subscribers’ TransUnion credit reports. Using traditional methods, these do not typically contribute to a consumer’s credit history.

eCredable supports nine different categories: power, gas, water, waste, mobile phone, cable TV, satellite TV, internet and landline phone bills. eCredable CEO Steve Ely says the company’s typical customer adds three utility accounts to their TransUnion report. The service costs $24.95 per year.

See related: How to improve your credit score

How it works

eCredable is an accredited data furnisher that can potentially add up to 24 months of utility payment activity overnight. It requests subscribers’ utility login information and uses that to determine whether or not payments were made in full and on time. These accounts get added directly to the consumer’s TransUnion credit report and are included in the popular FICO 8 and VantageScore 3.0 scoring models.

The benefits

While I’m generally not a big fan of paying to build credit – there are plenty of free ways to accomplish this – eCredable might be worth it for some people. The most rapid potential improvement is for people who don’t have enough of a credit history to generate a credit score.

An eCredable/VantageScore study found this sample consumer might expect to go from no credit score at all to a very solid 736 just by adding three utility accounts – assuming the payments from the last 12 months are made on time. That’s incredible. It would take them from a standing start to in the running for the vast majority of credit cards. By the way, Ely notes that Experian Boost does not work for people with no credit because it requires a credit report to get started.

 

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An older American whose credit history has gone dormant might also benefit from this. eCredable and VantageScore speculate that this individual could see an 88-point improvement (from 675 to 763) after adding three utility accounts with 12 months of on time payments to their account.

 

When derogatory information is present, eCredable is much less impactful, but that makes sense. On-time utility payments can’t outweigh serious delinquencies and maxed-out credit cards. The best candidates are people whose lack of recent credit is holding back their credit score, not people who have derogatory marks.

eCredable and Experian Boost

Experian Boost, which is free, requests users’ bank account information and monitors utility payments from there. Ely says this doesn’t provide as much detail as eCredable’s approach and that some lenders are skeptical because Experian Boost is easy for a user to disconnect (if, for example, it’s hurting their credit score).

That runs contrary to the typical credit reporting formula. Say you pay your credit card bill late – you can’t just hit a button to make that disappear from your credit report. Lenders want the full picture of potential risks.

Still, the way I see it, there’s ample room for both services. Experian Boost only affects Experian credit reports, and eCredable only works with TransUnion. Those credit bureaus each contract with approximately one-third of the lending industry, according to Ely, and Equifax (which does not currently have a comparable tool) provides data to the remaining third.

If you’re a consumer looking to improve your credit, you could benefit from signing up for both services. Before you apply for a loan, it’s not always easy to tell which credit bureau your lender will pull from. Sometimes you can find out by asking the lender or scouring online message boards for other consumers’ experiences.

See related: How I improved my credit score

Bottom line

Especially if you’re new to credit, programs such as eCredable and Experian Boost can give you credit for paying bills on time. These behaviors haven’t traditionally counted towards credit but could give consumers a head start on building a strong credit score.

Have a question about credit cards? E-mail me at [email protected] and I’d be happy to help.

Editorial Disclaimer

The editorial content on this page is based solely on the objective assessment of our writers and is not driven by advertising dollars. It has not been provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. However, we may receive compensation when you click on links to products from our partners.

Ted Rossman is the senior industry analyst at CreditCards.com. He has spent the past decade in the personal finance industry, conducting consumer and industry research and providing commentary for media and consumers. His focus areas include credit cards, debt management and credit scores. Ted regularly shares his advice via major media outlets such as Good Morning America, the Wall Street Journal, CNBC and Fox Business. He also writes the weekly “Wealth and Wants” column for CreditCards.com, which primarily covers cash back credit cards.

Home | NextAdvisor with TIME

How to Self-Report to Credit Bureaus

Ryan Haar

March 31, 2021 | 6 MIN READ

 

Photo to accompany story about how to self report to credit bureaus.Getty Images

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The pandemic and economic recession pushed lenders to be tighter and more selective with loans and lines of credit in 2020.

For those looking to borrow, every little bit counts when it comes to getting access to the best interest rates and terms. Could self-reporting more financial details to the credit bureaus be an easy win? 

Rent, utilities, and even Netflix payments can all go toward helping your credit score. Before you decide whether it makes sense for you, here’s what you should know:

What Is Self Reporting?

Describing it as “self reporting” is a bit deceiving, because an individual cannot actually contact the credit bureaus directly to report credit information or payments. 

Self reporting refers to giving the credit bureaus (ExperianTransUnion, and Equifax)  permission to view your accounts and payment history for things that are not automatically reported. This process still involves the use of some third-party service as individuals themselves cannot report directly. 

Before considering self reporting, it’s important to remember what information is already reported to the bureaus. Loan payments are reported automatically: student loans, auto loans, personal loans, mortgages, and most credit cards. 

PRO TIP

Find out what payments are already being reported to the credit bureaus by pulling your credit report. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, you can now do it for free through 2021.

“Chances are your general credit card should report, but sometimes you get these niche credit cards that may not,” Ted Rossman, an industry analyst at CreditCards.com, says. “When in doubt, pull your credit report” to check and confirm exactly what accounts are being reported and included. You can usually check your credit report for free once per year, but in light of the pandemic you can do it for free weekly through April 2021. 

After you’ve determined what’s already being reported, consider what other payments you make consistently and often that could benefit your credit if they were considered by the bureaus. 

Reporting Your Rent

Rent is the biggest monthly expense for many households and “it’s unfortunate that it’s typically not counted,” Rossman says. But there are some measures you can take to ensure this expense helps your credit. 

There are several programs available that will report your rent to credit bureaus. Rossman points to a few of the more popular programs when considering how they might be able to help people:

  • Experian RentBureau: Experian RentBureau is free, and reports only to Experian. 
  • Rental Kharma: Rental Kharma reports to TransUnion and Equifax, and has a $50 startup fee and a $8.95 monthly fee
  • Rent Reporters: Rent Reporters reports to TransUnion and Equifax, and has a $94.95 sign-up fee with a $9.95 monthly fee after that. 
  • LevelCredit: LevelCredit charges $6.95 per month and reports to TransUnion and Equifax.

Renters must sign up for a service, then the company will reach out to the landlord every month to confirm the tenant paid on time, usually via an email or text message. This system requires “some commitment from your landlord,” Rossman says, but shouldn’t discourage you from trying. 

If your landlord doesn’t cooperate and properly report your rent payments, you may be penalized, so make sure they have a clear understanding about what’s expected from them  before you sign up. And if you can’t get a commitment from them to partner with you, you’re probably better off working to improve your credit in other ways.

If you want to ask your landlord to cooperate and help you self report your rent, here’s a script you can use as a starting point for an email or conversation:

 

Hi ______,

 

I’ve lived in your property/building for_________ months, and always pay my rent on time. I would like this to reflect favorably on my credit score as I’m looking to build my finances. 

 

I’m signing up for _______ service to report my rent payments to credit agencies. I’ll pay the monthly fee, all you would have to do is answer the email/text once per month confirming that I’ve paid rent on time. It’s very minimal work on your part and would help me out a lot! 

 

Let me know if you have any questions I can answer for you. 

 

Thank you,

 

____________. 

Other Credit Builders

Credit builder products work to increase your positive payment history by including recurring payments that aren’t automatically reported.

Experian Boost

Experian Boost factors utility payments into your credit report. This means if you pay your water, electricity, cellphone, internet and natural gas bills on time, you can help your credit with Experian Boost. Experian Boost also includes Netflix payments. 

“Experian Boost is a no-brainer,” Rossman says of the free service. “You can opt in and then if it doesn’t work, you can opt right back out.”

eCredable Lift 

eCredable Lift by TransUnion adds 24 months of utility payment history to your credit report by accessing your utility accounts directly. It costs $24.95 per year. 

UltraFICO Score

UltraFICO Score includes more than just utility payments. It accesses your banking history for data such as your savings balances, length of account history, and frequency of transactions.

Be Mindful of Your Financial Goals

It’s important to keep your financial goals in mind when actively building your credit. What are you working for? When people talk about building their credit, a lot of times it’s to eventually get a mortgage. 

“That’s the aspiration,” Rossman says. “A lot of times the mortgage is the holy grail.” 

If that’s the case, it’s important to keep track of which bureaus your self-reporting services are reporting to. If your services are only reporting to one of three bureaus, “that wouldn’t really help you so much,” Rossman says. 

The best case, assuming all of your payment history is accurate and positive, would be for your services to report to all three bureaus. When you apply for a mortgage, typically they’re going to look at the middle of your three scores. 

“It’s like Olympic diving. They’re going to throw out the high score, throw out the low score, and look at that middle score,” Rossman says.

While reporting to all three bureaus is ideal, it’s more common that a self-reporting service will only report to two out of three. In general, “the more the merrier,” Rossman says. 

It’s also important to consider the cost of these credit-building tools, which, for some, are not insignificant. But if the goal is that mortgage, then a few points difference in your credit score could make a significant difference in your rate, Rossman says. 

Even a few extra points can be really beneficial, and the average user of Experian Boost, for example, gets 13 points, according to Rossman. 

“Especially if you’re on the margin of getting approved or unapproved, that boost can be really significant,” Rossman says. And you can always stop paying for the extra reporting services after getting a mortgage.

But if a mortgage or other big loan is not in your near future, then weigh the cost versus the benefit of these tools carefully. And remember, the most surefire way to build and maintain your credit history is to simply make on-time payments to existing loans and credit cards.

Bottom Line

Lenders have gotten a lot stricter. It’s harder to get a new line of credit now than it was six months ago, so “anything you can do to truthfully improve your score is really worth it,” Rossman says.