Does Financing a Car Build Credit? How Car Loans Affect Credit

Does Financing a Car Build Credit? How Car Loans Can Affect Your Credit Score

If you’re like the millions of Americans who have an outstanding auto loan, you may be wondering how your car loan affects your credit. Applying for and having a car loan does affect your credit, as long as the loan is reported to one of the major credit bureaus.

Like with most other debt obligations, responsibly making on-time payments can help your credit score — in this, way financing a car can build credit. On the other hand, making late or missed payments can hurt your credit score, as can the hard pull of your credit report that potential lenders conduct when you apply for an auto loan.

Recommended: When Are Credit Card Payments Due?

How Does Car Financing Work?

While it is possible to pay for a new car with cash, it’s common for many potential auto buyers to use car financing. You may get a car loan for the full purchase price, or make a down payment and get a loan for the rest of the amount.

The lengths of car loans vary but are commonly 48, 60, or 72 months. After making your payments for the balance of the loan, the loan is paid off and you take full ownership of the car.

Note that your car acts as collateral for an auto loan. This means that if you fail to repay the amount borrowed, the lender can take your car to recoup its losses.

How Financing a Car Can Affect Credit Positively

Most car loans are reported to the major credit bureaus, and your payment history and balance is usually included on your credit report. Making on-time payments on your car loan can have a positive impact on your credit. Potential lenders want to see a history of reliably paying your debts, and making payments on a car loan can help with establishing that.

Another factor that makes up your credit score is having a healthy mix of different types of credit. This can be another reason why having an active auto loan can help build credit, as it adds to the types of credit you have.

Cash in on up to $250–and 3% cash back for 365 days.¹

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How Financing a Car Can Affect Credit Negatively

Just as making on-time payments on your car loan can have a positive impact on your credit score, missed or late payments can affect your credit negatively.

Additionally, when you initially apply for an auto loan, the lender will conduct a hard pull on your credit report to verify your creditworthiness. This can drop your credit score by a few points, though those drops usually only last a few months. If you’re working with multiple lenders, keep in mind that hard credit pulls by multiple lenders in a short period of time will usually get combined.

And while paying down debt is often a good idea, paying off a car loan affects your credit in some additional ways. If you don’t have other debts or loans, it’s possible that paying off your loan can have a negative impact on your credit score. This is because your on-time payments no longer get reported, and you’ll have one fewer type of credit to your mix. Additionally, if you took out your car loan a while ago, paying it off can impact the average age of your open accounts, which also influences credit.

Factors That Influence Your Credit Score

The biggest factor that influences your credit score is your payment history. Potential lenders want to see that you reliably pay your debts, and making on-time payments is one way to show that. Other factors that influence your credit score are:

•   Your average age of accounts

•   Credit mix

•   How much you owe

•   How many recent inquiries appear on your credit report

Tips to Build Your Credit Score

If you’re wondering, ‘does a car payment build credit?’, then you’re likely hoping to boost your score. Here are some tips to consider to build credit:

•   Make sure that you always pay your bills on time.

•   As you apply for new debt or credit, only apply for loans that you know you have the financial ability and discipline to pay.

•   Aim to keep your credit utilization — the amount of your total credit you’re using — at 30% or lower. Having a higher credit utilization rate can negatively affect credit.

•   Remember to check your credit report at least once a year. Not only can this help you to monitor your credit health and understand the impacts of various activities on your credit, it can help you spot any errors or fraudulent activity.

Recommended: Credit Score Needed to Buy a Car

Mistakes to Avoid When Financing a Car

One of the biggest mistakes that you can make when financing a car is applying for a higher loan amount than you can afford. When you take out a car loan, you’re making a multi-year commitment to make those monthly payments. If you take out a loan for more money than you can reasonably afford, you run the risk of destabilizing your overall financial situation and ending up in a situation where you make late payments or, even worse, miss payments.

Recommended: Average Payment for a Car

Is a Car Loan a Wise Option to Build Credit?

A car loan can be a good option to build up your credit. Remember, what potential lenders are looking for when they look at your credit report is a history of meeting your debt repayment obligations. A car loan that you regularly pay on-time can be a great way of showing that you are reliable.

Follow our tips for getting a car loan to give you a head start toward building your credit.

Other Ways to Build Credit

Aside from turning to car financing to build credit, here are a few other ways to build credit that you might consider.

Become an Authorized User

Another way that you can build credit is by becoming an authorized user on someone else’s credit card account. When you are an authorized user on a credit card account, you’re not financially responsible for paying the statement, but it still shows up on your credit report. Keep in mind that how the primary account holder manages their account can affect your credit score, either positively or negatively.

Recommended: Tips for Using a Credit Card Responsibly

Consider a Personal Loan

Another option to build credit is by taking out a personal loan. Unlike a car loan, which is considered a secured loan since the car itself acts as collateral for the lender, a personal loan is an unsecured loan. That means that there is no collateral for the lender to seize if you stop making payments.

In certain situations, this can make a personal loan a great option for building credit. In fact, if an auto loan isn’t the right option, you can consider getting a personal loan for a car.

Apply for a Credit Card

Responsibly using a credit card and paying it off in full each month is another way that you can establish credit. Your credit card balance and payment history are typically reported to the major credit bureaus.

Additionally, some credit cards, like the SoFi Credit Card, offer rewards, such as cash-back rewards, with each purchase. Those rewards can be a boost to your monthly budget.

Recommended: Does Applying For a Credit Card Hurt Your Credit Score?l

The Takeaway

If you take out an auto loan to buy a new or used car, it will typically get reported to the major credit bureaus. That means making on-time payments on your auto loan can help you build credit. Similarly, late or missed payments can have a negative impact on your credit score.

Applying for a credit card and making regular payments can be another way to build your credit. When you’re ready for a new credit card, consider a cash-back rewards credit card like SoFi’s credit card. With the SoFi credit card, you can earn unlimited cash-back rewards if you’re approved. You can use those rewards as a statement credit, invest them in fractional shares, or put them toward other financial goals you might have, like paying down eligible SoFi debt.

Apply for a SoFi credit card today!

FAQ

Does paying off a car loan help build credit?

While making regular payments on your car loan helps you build credit, paying off your car loan doesn’t always have the same impact. When you pay off your car loan, you no longer have the monthly payment history showing up on your credit report. Still, paying off a car loan can be a good financial move since it helps lower the total amount of your debt.

How can I keep my payment within my budget when financing a car?

The monthly payment amount of your car loan will depend on a variety of factors — the total purchase price of the car, your down payment, the length of the car loan and your interest rate. If you want to keep your monthly payment below the average payment for a car, you can get a cheaper car, make a higher down payment, or take out a longer loan. You can also work on raising your credit score to hopefully qualify for a lower interest rate.

Recommended: How to Avoid Interest On a Credit Card

How fast can a car loan raise my credit score?

While taking out a car loan can possibly build your credit, you shouldn’t count on an immediate positive impact. In the short-term, it’s possible that your credit score may decrease from the new credit inquiries and the additional debt that shows up on your credit report. However, over time, making regular and on-time payments on your auto loan could improve your credit score.

Does leasing a car build credit?

Most lease payments are reported to the major credit bureaus. That means that regular, on-time payments can help you build your credit in a similar manner to buying a car with a car loan. However, if you make late payments or miss payments on your lease, it can have a negative impact on your credit score.


Photo credit: iStock/Zorica Nastasic

SoFi cardholders earn 2% unlimited cash back rewards when redeemed to save, invest, or pay down eligible SoFi debt. Cardholders earn 1% cash back rewards when redeemed for a statement credit.1
Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.
The SoFi Credit Card is issued by The Bank of Missouri (TBOM) (“Issuer”) pursuant to license by Mastercard® International Incorporated and can be used everywhere Mastercard is accepted. Mastercard is a registered trademark, and the circles design is a trademark of Mastercard International Incorporated.
1See Rewards Details at SoFi.com/card/rewards.
Members earn 2 rewards points for every dollar spent on eligible purchases. If you elect to redeem points for cash deposited into your SoFi Checking or Savings account, SoFi Money® account, fractional shares or cryptocurrency in your SoFi Active Invest account, or as a payment to your SoFi Personal, Private Student, or Student Loan Refinance, your points will redeem at a rate of 1 cent per every point. If you elect to redeem points as a statement credit to your SoFi Credit Card account, your points will redeem at a rate of 0.5 cents per every point. For more details please visit the Rewards page. Brokerage and Active investing products offered through SoFi Securities LLC, member FINRA/SIPC. SoFi Securities LLC is an affiliate of SoFi Bank, N.A.
Disclaimer: Many factors affect your credit scores and the interest rates you may receive. SoFi is not a Credit Repair Organization as defined under federal or state law, including the Credit Repair Organizations Act. SoFi does not provide “credit repair” services or advice or assistance regarding “rebuilding” or “improving” your credit record, credit history, or credit rating. For details, see the FTC’s
website
.

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How Long Does It Take to Build Credit From Nothing?

How Long Does It Take to Build Credit?

Building good credit (or any credit at all) doesn’t happen overnight. Instead, you may need to have an open credit account for around three to six months before you first get a credit score.

From there, a good credit profile and good credit score can take awhile to build up. In reality, it’s much easier to lower your credit score, which is why it’s vital to aim to make solid financial choices, like consistently paying your bills on time. Building and maintaining good credit isn’t always easy, but by following a few simple steps, you can put yourself on solid ground.

How Long It Can Take to Build Credit From Scratch?

The exact length of time it takes to build credit from scratch varies by credit card issuer. That being said, it’s usually around three to six months from the time you first open a credit account.

Even though establishing and building credit can take time, it’s worth it as a way to improve your overall financial situation. Having good credit can make it easier to get approved for loans and secure lower interest rates.

Recommended: How to Avoid Interest On a Credit Card

Cash in on up to $250–and 3% cash back for 365 days.¹

Apply and get approved for the SoFi Credit Card. Then open a bank account with qualifying direct deposits. Some things are just better together.


4 Ways to Build Credit

If you’re hoping to begin building credit, here are some tactics you might consider.

Become An Authorized User

One way to help build your credit is by becoming an authorized user on an account of someone who already has good credit. This might be a trusted friend or family member. As they make on-time payments, that can have a positive impact on your credit score as well. Just know that if they miss or make late payments, that can also negatively impact your credit.

Recommended: When Are Credit Card Payments Due?

Apply For a Credit Card

If you’re getting a credit card for the first time, know that it is possible to apply for and get approved for a credit card with no existing credit history. However, you do need to be selective about which card you apply for. You’re unlikely to get approved for a premium or luxury credit card if you don’t already have excellent credit.

Still, there are credit cards that are marketed toward those who have no credit or a limited credit history. You might also consider a secured credit card, where you put down a refundable security deposit that then serves as your credit limit.

If you can get approved for a credit card, using that card responsibly, such as by making on-time payments, can help you build up your credit.

Recommended: Time It Takes to Get a Credit Card

Get a Cosigner

If you aren’t able to get approved for a loan on your own, you might consider applying for credit with a cosigner. Using a co-signer with good credit can help improve your chances of getting approved for a loan.

Then, if you reliably make on-time payments, that will get reported to the major credit bureaus and hopefully help you start building your credit score.

Recommended: Tips for Using a Credit Card Responsibly

Maintain Good Credit Habits

Once you have opened a credit account like a loan or credit card, it’s important to practice good credit habits. This includes paying your statement off in full, each and every month. Demonstrating a pattern of reliably paying your bills over time shows potential lenders that you’re likely to repay your debts.

Recommended: Does Applying For a Credit Card Hurt Your Credit Score?

Factors That Affect Credit Score Calculations

There are five major factors that affect your credit score:

•   Credit utilization: Your credit utilization is the amount of the credit you’ve used compared to your total available credit. It’s recommended to keep this ratio to 30% or less.

•   Payment history: This indicates how reliably you make payments on your existing accounts.

•   Types of credit accounts: Having a good mix of different types of credit accounts has a positive impact on your credit score, as it indicates to lenders that manage multiple types of accounts.

•   Your average age of accounts: Having a lengthy credit history is a positive sign. This shows you have experience in responsibly managing accounts.

•   New credit: Opening a number of accounts or making a number of hard inquiries in quick succession can suggest to lenders that you’ve overextended yourself and are in need of funding to bail you out.

Recommended: Starting Credit Score for 18-Year-Olds

Things to Keep in Mind Before Building Credit

If you’re looking to build good credit, here are some tips on establishing credit to keep in mind.

Have a Solid Financial Plan

The first thing you’ll want to do is set up a budget. Getting a new credit card should not be viewed as a way to fix your budget or dig yourself out of a financial hole. Instead, the best way to use a credit card is as a tool of convenience for money that you already have. Make sure that you have the financial ability and discipline to pay your bills in full, each and every month.

Watch Out For Scams

Usually building credit is something that you do over a period of several months or years. If someone tells you that they can build or repair your credit quickly, it could be a sign of a credit card scam. There aren’t many shortcuts to the simple rules of just regularly paying your bills on time.

Don’t Open Too Many Accounts At Once

You might think that since opening a credit account can help build credit, opening many accounts will help build credit even faster. However, that is usually not the case. Many lenders view a high number of credit inquiries in a short period of time as a negative indicator. They may see it as a potential red flag that someone is in a bad financial situation.

The Takeaway

If you’re just starting out and have no credit history at all, you generally start without an actual credit score. It can take a few months after you open a credit account to start establishing a score. As you continue to show that you’re responsible for the credit you have, your score will likely increase. Building credit can take time, and you should be skeptical of any people or programs that say they can build your credit fast.

If you’re in the market for a new credit card, you might consider a cash-back rewards credit card like SoFi’s credit card. If you’re approved for a credit card with SoFi, you can earn unlimited cash-back rewards. You can use those rewards as a statement credit, invest them in fractional shares or put them toward other financial goals you might have, like paying down eligible SoFi debt.

Apply for a SoFi credit card today!

FAQ

What credit score do you start with?

There isn’t a starting credit score for those without any credit history. While you might think that you start with the lowest possible credit score (like 300) and have to build your way up, you actually don’t start with any credit score at all. As you open credit cards or other accounts, you’ll start to establish a credit history and score.

How long does it take to build a good credit score?

It usually takes anywhere from three to six months to start building a credit score after you’ve opened your first credit account. You’ll then continue to build and improve your credit by continually making on-time payments. You can always check your credit score periodically to see where you’re at on your credit journey.

How long does it take to recover from a hard inquiry on your credit?

Usually when you apply for a new credit card or other loan, your potential lender will pull your credit file. This is known as a hard inquiry. Since the number of recent hard inquiries is one factor in determining your credit score, applying for credit cards can lower your credit score. However, these inquiries typically only lower your score by a few points and drop off your report after a few months.

How fast can you build your credit in 3 months?

How fast you can build your credit depends on a number of factors. Generally, it takes a few months after you’ve opened a credit account to even establish any credit. Your credit score will improve as you continue to use your credit responsibly. It’s best to think about building credit as more of a marathon than a sprint.


Photo credit: iStock/YakobchukOlena

Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.
SoFi cardholders earn 2% unlimited cash back rewards when redeemed to save, invest, or pay down eligible SoFi debt. Cardholders earn 1% cash back rewards when redeemed for a statement credit.1
The SoFi Credit Card is issued by The Bank of Missouri (TBOM) (“Issuer”) pursuant to license by Mastercard® International Incorporated and can be used everywhere Mastercard is accepted. Mastercard is a registered trademark, and the circles design is a trademark of Mastercard International Incorporated.
1See Rewards Details at SoFi.com/card/rewards.
Members earn 2 rewards points for every dollar spent on eligible purchases. If you elect to redeem points for cash deposited into your SoFi Checking or Savings account, SoFi Money® account, fractional shares or cryptocurrency in your SoFi Active Invest account, or as a payment to your SoFi Personal, Private Student, or Student Loan Refinance, your points will redeem at a rate of 1 cent per every point. If you elect to redeem points as a statement credit to your SoFi Credit Card account, your points will redeem at a rate of 0.5 cents per every point. For more details please visit the Rewards page. Brokerage and Active investing products offered through SoFi Securities LLC, member FINRA/SIPC. SoFi Securities LLC is an affiliate of SoFi Bank, N.A.
Disclaimer: Many factors affect your credit scores and the interest rates you may receive. SoFi is not a Credit Repair Organization as defined under federal or state law, including the Credit Repair Organizations Act. SoFi does not provide “credit repair” services or advice or assistance regarding “rebuilding” or “improving” your credit record, credit history, or credit rating. For details, see the FTC’s
website
.

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Does Cosigning Build Credit? How Cosigning Affects Credit

Does Cosigning Build Credit? How Cosigning Affects Credit

If you are working on building your credit, you may be interested in cosigning or getting a cosigner for your own credit application. In some cases, you may not be able to get approved for a loan if you don’t have any credit history. If that’s the case, one way that you can help build credit is by having a cosigner.

A cosigner is someone you know who already has established a positive credit history and a good credit score. This person is usually a trusted friend or family member. The prospective lender will consider the credit of both the primary applicant and any cosigners when deciding whether or not to approve the loan.

Recommended: What is a Charge Card?

How Does Cosigning Work?

Cosigning is one way to build credit if you don’t already have an existing credit history. When you have a cosigner, the lender will use both your credit profile and that of the cosigner to determine whether or not to approve your loan request.

Without any sort of credit profile, some lenders may not be willing to issue you credit, or the interest rates they offer may be quite high. In those cases, you may consider applying with a cosigner who already has good credit in order to increase your odds of getting approved or securing better terms.

Cash in on up to $250–and 3% cash back for 365 days.¹

Apply and get approved for the SoFi Credit Card. Then open a bank account with qualifying direct deposits. Some things are just better together.


Recommended: How to Avoid Interest On a Credit Card

Cosigning vs Authorized User

Besides cosigning, becoming an authorized user is another way to help build credit. Here is a quick look at how the two approaches differ:

Cosigning

Being an authorized user

The amount of debt factors into the cosigner’s debt-to-income ratio. Debt information on an account where you are the authorized user does not affect your debt-to-income ratio.
Both the cosigner and the primary account holder are responsible for making the payments. An authorized user is not responsible for making payments.
Both the primary account holder and the cosigner must be adults. Children can be approved as authorized users on a parent’s account.

Recommended: When Are Credit Card Payments Due?

Does Cosigning Help Build Your Credit?

When used appropriately, cosigning can help build your credit. Just make sure to avoid these mistakes when choosing a student loan cosigner, or a cosigner for any other type of loan. If the responsibility is not taken seriously, it could have negative implications for both parties’ credit.

Recommended: Tips for Using a Credit Card Responsibly

When Cosigning Can Build Your Credit

If you’re just starting out and establishing credit, using a cosigner can be an attractive option. If you have a trusted friend or family member who is willing to cosign on your loan, you may be able to qualify for a loan that you wouldn’t otherwise be eligible for. Then, as you make on-time payments on your loan, your credit score will likely improve due to a positive payment history.

When Cosigning Can Hurt Your Credit

If you find yourself needing a student loan cosigner or any other type of cosigner, it’s important to also understand the potential downsides of cosigning. While being a cosigner does not affect your credit in and of itself, it is possible to damage your credit by cosigning.

When you cosign a loan or credit card, both the primary applicant and the cosigner are liable for the debt. You may find yourself in a situation where your credit is harmed because the other party fails to make regular payments when required. So, depending on your situation, you may be better off with a student loan application without a cosigner.

Recommended: Does Applying For a Credit Card Hurt Your Credit Score?

Things to Know Before Cosigning

The most important thing to know before cosigning is that cosigning on someone else’s loan does come with some risk. While cosigning can make sense to help a friend or family member who is starting out in life, it’s riskier to cosign for someone who already has bad credit.

If someone has bad credit, then they likely already have a history of not reliably meeting their debt obligations. Make sure you fully understand the situation before cosigning a loan.

Other Ways to Establish Credit

Besides getting a cosigner, there are a few other ways to establish credit.

Open a Secured or Credit-Building Credit Card

There are also some types of credit cards that are marketed to those with a limited credit history. Often, these are marketed as either credit-building credit cards or secured credit cards. As you open credit cards and regularly make on-time payments, your credit score is likely to improve.

Become an Authorized User

If you don’t want to apply for a credit card or can’t get approved without a credit card cosigner, you can consider becoming an authorized user on someone else’s account. In this setup, only the primary account holder is liable for any purchases that are made on the account. Even if the authorized user is the one that actually makes the purchase, they aren’t financially responsible.

Get a Guarantor

A guarantor is similar to a cosigner, but there are some important differences between guarantors and cosigners. A cosigner is legally obligated and financially responsible right away to repay any debts. A guarantor, on the other hand, is more of a backup plan. The guarantor is only responsible for repaying the debt if the primary borrower fails to make payments and the loan is at risk of default.

The Takeaway

When you’re first starting out and building up your credit, you may not be able to qualify for loans. One way to help build your credit is by applying with a cosigner. A cosigner is usually a trusted friend or family member who already has good credit. Applying with a cosigner allows the potential lender to consider both people’s credit. It may help you get a loan that you otherwise wouldn’t qualify for.

When you’ve built up your credit and are ready for a credit card, you might consider a cash-back rewards credit card like SoFi’s credit card. If you are approved for a credit card with SoFi, you can earn unlimited cash-back rewards. You can use those rewards as a statement credit, invest them in fractional shares, or put them toward other financial goals you might have, like paying down eligible SoFi debt.

Apply for a SoFi credit card today!

FAQ

Does cosigning show up on your credit report?

Yes, cosigning will show up on both the credit report of the primary applicant as well as the cosigner. Any outstanding debt will be used in calculating your debt-to-income ratio, and late payments might negatively affect your credit. This is one reason that it is always important to check your credit score on a regular basis.

Does a cosigner have to have good credit?

A credit card cosigner doesn’t necessarily have to have good credit, but it’s usually more helpful if they do. The whole point of having a cosigner is to use their good credit to help an applicant with poor or no credit qualify for a loan. If the cosigner has poor credit, it may not make a difference in whether or not the applicant is approved.

Whose credit score is used when cosigning?

When you apply for a loan or credit card with a cosigner, the potential lender will use both people’s credit score and history to determine whether to grant approval. Typically, the primary applicant will have poor or no credit, while the cosigner will have excellent or good credit.


Photo credit: iStock/Sitthiphong

1See Rewards Details at SoFi.com/card/rewards.
Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.
The SoFi Credit Card is issued by The Bank of Missouri (TBOM) (“Issuer”) pursuant to license by Mastercard® International Incorporated and can be used everywhere Mastercard is accepted. Mastercard is a registered trademark, and the circles design is a trademark of Mastercard International Incorporated.
Members earn 2 rewards points for every dollar spent on eligible purchases. If you elect to redeem points for cash deposited into your SoFi Checking or Savings account, SoFi Money® account, fractional shares or cryptocurrency in your SoFi Active Invest account, or as a payment to your SoFi Personal, Private Student, or Student Loan Refinance, your points will redeem at a rate of 1 cent per every point. If you elect to redeem points as a statement credit to your SoFi Credit Card account, your points will redeem at a rate of 0.5 cents per every point. For more details please visit the Rewards page. Brokerage and Active investing products offered through SoFi Securities LLC, member FINRA/SIPC. SoFi Securities LLC is an affiliate of SoFi Bank, N.A.
Disclaimer: Many factors affect your credit scores and the interest rates you may receive. SoFi is not a Credit Repair Organization as defined under federal or state law, including the Credit Repair Organizations Act. SoFi does not provide “credit repair” services or advice or assistance regarding “rebuilding” or “improving” your credit record, credit history, or credit rating. For details, see the FTC’s
website
.

SoFi cardholders earn 2% unlimited cash back rewards when redeemed to save, invest, or pay down eligible SoFi debt. Cardholders earn 1% cash back rewards when redeemed for a statement credit.1

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Does Paying Rent Build Credit?

Does Paying Rent Build Credit?

There are many ways to build credit, and paying rent can be one of them. That is, as long as your rent payments are being reported to the major credit bureaus — Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. From there, you’ll also need to make sure you’re regularly making on-time payments, as late or missed payments can have a negative effect on your credit.

While it may not feel as automatic as other methods, with some effort, you can use your rent payments to build your credit. Here’s a closer look at how to do so.

Recommended: When Are Credit Card Payments Due?

How Paying Rent Affects Your Credit

Paying rent has the potential to affect your credit in two major ways: through your traditional credit history or through alternative data.

If you use your credit card to make rental payments, then your account activity will get included in your credit report. If you’re making timely payments in full, then this can positively impact your credit score. Late or missed payments, on the other hand, can lead to negative effects on your credit score.

Alternative data refers to sources that are not typically used to calculate credit scores. However, some lenders may consider them to determine creditworthiness. Rental payments are one example of alternative data — though for this information to count, you’ll usually have to enroll in a rent reporting service. And again, in order to build your credit through rental payments, it’s necessary to make those payments on time.

Cash in on up to $250–and 3% cash back for 365 days.¹

Apply and get approved for the SoFi Credit Card. Then open a bank account with qualifying direct deposits. Some things are just better together.


Can Your Rent Payments Appear on Your Credit Report?

Rent payments can appear on your credit report if your payment activity is reported to the major credit bureaus. To find out if your rent gets reported, ask your landlord or the property management company.

Your method of payment also affects whether your rental payments will show up on your credit report. For example, if you’re able to pay rent with a credit card, your payment should show up on your credit report. However, if you pay with a check or bank transfer, your payment most likely will not appear on your credit report.

Can You Manually Report Rent Payments to Credit Bureaus?

Unfortunately, you can’t report your rent payments to the credit bureaus on your own. Your landlord usually won’t be able to either, unless your building is managed by a property management company that does.

The good news is that there is a workaround to getting your rent payments reported, but it involves using a rent reporting service.

Tips for Getting Credit for the Rent You Pay

There are two main ways to get your payment activity put on your credit report: enrolling in a rent reporting service or using a method of payment that’s guaranteed to show up on your credit report.

Sign up for a Rent Reporting Service

You can sign up for a rent reporting service yourself, or you can ask your landlord to do so if you’re hoping to use your rent payments to establish credit. If you sign up yourself, you may have to go through some verification procedures, such as having your landlord verify your rent payments.

In most cases, you’ll pay a fee for using the service. You may pay a set-up fee only, or you could owe a monthly fee. If your landlord signs up, they could incur a fee that they may then pass onto you. Still, it could be worth it if you want your rent payments reported to the credit bureaus.

Use Your Credit Card

If your landlord or property management company accepts this method of payment, then using your credit card could get your rent payment put on your credit report. Keep in mind that like rent reporting services, you may be charged a processing or convenience fee for using your card to pay for rent.

Recommended: What is a Charge Card?

Does Missing Rent Hurt Your Credit Score?

Missing even one payment could affect your credit score negatively if your rent payments are reported to the credit bureaus. Considering that payment activity is one of the major factors used in calculating your credit score — your payment history makes up 35% of your FICO — it’s best to try and make on-time payments each month.

However, if you don’t use your credit card to make rental payments, you aren’t signed up for a rent reporting service, and your landlord doesn’t report your payment activity, then your credit score will most likely not be affected by missing rent. Still, missing rent payments can have other serious implications down the road, from making it harder to negotiate rent in the future to possible eviction.

Other Ways to Build Credit

While paying rent can build credit, there are other ways to go about doing so. If you’re hoping to establish your credit, here are some alternatives to consider.

Take Out a Personal Loan

The good news is that there are many loans that are specifically geared toward those looking to build their credit. Sometimes marketed as credit-builder loans, these loans approve you for a specific amount that you then make payments on in monthly installments until the amount is paid off in full.

Unlike a traditional personal loan, the money borrowed is held in a savings or escrow account — think of it as forced savings — and your payment activity is reported to the credit bureaus. Once you pay off the loan, you’ll receive the funds, minus any applicable fees.

You can also choose to take out a traditional personal loan, where you’ll receive a lump sum upfront. The amount you qualify for and the terms of the loan will depend on your creditworthiness. In fact, if you’re in a bind and have strong credit, you can even use personal loans for rent.

With either of these options, make sure to shop around for lenders and compare offers. Also take the time to read the fine print carefully, so you understand exactly what you’re getting into.

Become an Authorized User

Another option to build credit is to ask someone you trust — such as your spouse or a relative — who has good credit to make you an authorized user on their credit card. Doing so means that this account gets added to your credit history.

This can allow the primary cardholder’s credit activity to help you build your credit, as long as they continue to be responsible with their credit card. In turn, this could help you to secure the necessary credit score to rent an apartment or qualify for loans.

Recommended: Tips for Using a Credit Card Responsibly

Use a Credit Card

Another way to build credit is through responsible credit card usage. Depending on your credit history, you can choose from a secured or unsecured credit card. A secured credit card may be easier to qualify for, since many are geared toward those with limited or no credit history. You’ll need to put down collateral (usually a refundable deposit), which will serve as your credit limit.

Or, you can try to apply for an unsecured credit card if you believe your approval changes are high. Some credit cards, like the SoFi Credit Card, may even offer perks like cash-back rewards.

Whichever route you go, make sure to stay on top of making your payments on time, and avoid using too much of your available credit limit. You could even consider paying your bills with a credit card to build up your payment history.

Recommended: Does Applying For a Credit Card Hurt Your Credit Score?

The Takeaway

You can build credit with your rent payments if you make them using your credit card or if your payments get reported to the credit bureaus. Ask your landlord or rental company if payments already get reported to the bureaus. If they don’t you can sign up for a rent reporting service, though you’ll most likely pay a fee to do so. From there, rent can affect your credit score positively or negatively, depending on whether you’re timely with your payments.

Aside from paying rent to build credit, there are other, often easier ways to build credit. This can include applying for and responsibly using a credit card, such as the SoFi credit card. With the SoFi credit card, you can lower your APR by making 12 monthly on-time payments.

See if you qualify for the SoFi credit card today!

FAQ

How soon will my rent payments appear on my credit report?

How soon your rent payments will appear on your credit report depends on several factors, including when you made your payment, how you paid, and whether you did so through a credit reporting service. Experian, for instance, receives updates every 24 hours, though it could take longer for your rent payment to show up on your credit report.

Can I boost my credit by paying rent?

You may be able to build your credit by paying rent if you use a method of payment that gets reported to the credit bureaus or if you sign up for a rent reporting service. Otherwise, if your landlord or property management company doesn’t report your payment activity, it won’t affect your credit.

How long does unpaid rent stay on credit?

If you missed a rent payment and your rent payments do get reported to the credit bureaus, the negative remark may stay on your credit report for up to seven years.


Photo credit: iStock/miniseries

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Differences Between VantageScore and FICO Credit Scores

Differences Between VantageScore and FICO Credit Scores

Your credit score affects your financial future, so it’s important to know where your score comes from and the different ways it can be calculated. Most important, you should know that the score you’re seeing may not be the score your lender is seeing. Why is this, and what can you do about it?

Two major companies are responsible for billions of credit scores (this is no hyperbole) provided to lenders and consumers: FICO® and VantageScore® Solutions. The difference between VantageScore vs. FICO credit scores is subtle, reflecting each company’s special calculation.

We’ll explain what goes into score calculations. We’ll also tell you where to find your score, how to use it, and which score lenders use in their decisions.

Why Credit Scores Are Important

Before we get into score calculation, let’s review why credit scores are so important. When you need to borrow money, you want to do it as cheaply as possible. This means you want a great interest rate and terms that help you repay your debt as efficiently as possible.

Generally speaking, the higher your credit score, the more likely you are to get the best interest rate and loan terms. Over the course of your life, a good credit score can save you a significant amount of money.

Knowing how to read a credit report and how your credit score is calculated can help you make moves to improve it. Take a look at how the two major players come up with your credit score.

Check your score with SoFi Insights

Track your credit score for free. Sign up and get $10.*


Recommended: What Is a Fair Credit Score?

What FICO Takes Into Account

The Fair Isaac Corporation, more commonly known as FICO, developed the FICO score in 1989. Scores range from 300 to 850. The higher the number, the better your score.

FICO scores are calculated based on how a consumer handles debt and weighted according to the following categories:

•   Payment history: 35%

•   Amounts owed: 30%

•   Length of credit history: 15%

•   Credit mix: 10%

•   New credit: 10%

As you can see, FICO scores give the most weight to your payment history and amounts owed. FICO also considers your length of credit history, credit mix, and new credit.

FICO has multiple versions of their credit scoring models, much like software has multiple updates. FICO provides different scoring models to lenders that serve different needs. Credit card issuers, auto loan lenders, and mortgage originators may use different FICO scores to make lending decisions.

What’s calculated in a FICO vs. a VantageScore is subtly different.

Recommended: What Credit Score is Needed to Buy a Car?

What VantageScore Takes Into Account

VantageScores were developed in 2006 by the three main credit bureaus: Experian, Equifax, and Transunion. Scores range from 300 to 850, just like FICO scores. However, even though the scores are calculated on the same scale, a VantageScore will be different from a FICO score. That’s because the factors, and how they’re weighted, are a little different. VantageScores are based on:

•   Payment history: 40%

•   Depth of credit: 21%

•   Credit utilization: 20%

•   Balances: 11%

•   Recent credit: 5%

•   Available credit: 3%

Naturally, this results in a different score. Since many lenders use FICO Score and consumers often see VantageScores, some lending decisions can take consumers by surprise.

The most common VantageScore versions are VantageScore 3.0 and 4.0. Many banks and credit issuers use VantageScore 3.0 vs. FICO Score.

VantageScore vs FICO: The Differences

The major differences between VantageScores and FICO Score are outlined in the table below. These include the amount of time you have to shop for a loan, the number of categories factored into score calculation, differences in weighted categories, and length of credit history.

FICO

VantageScore

Shopping Window 45 days 14 days
Categories 5 6
Weighting Amounts owed weighted more Payment history weighted more

Recommended: Do Banks Run Credit Checks for Checking Accounts?

Who Tends To Use VantageScore

Some banks and credit card issuers supply VantageScores to their customers for free. Scores are provided largely for consumer education, meaning to help people understand what factors affect their credit score, rather than lending decisions.

Consumers who want to purchase a credit score will find Equifax and TransUnion both advertise a credit score monitoring service that uses VantageScore 3.0 as their model. If you’re comparing Transunion VantageScore vs. FICO, you’ll see that Experian sells a FICO score 8 model.

Recommended: What is The Difference Between Transunion and Equifax?

Who Tends To Use FICO

FICO claims that 90% of top lenders use FICO Score to make lending decisions. Consumers who visit the Experian website will see the credit score monitoring service it offers uses the FICO Score 8 model. You can also purchase your FICO Score directly from FICO.

FICO and VantageScore credit scores are used by a variety of sources to consider your credit history and credit score. These can include lenders, landlords, employers, and insurance companies. (Read more about how credit checks for employment work.)

It’s also possible to get a tri merge credit report, which combines data from the three credit bureaus in one report.

Which Credit Score Costs the Least To Check?

Many people don’t know how to find out their credit score for free. While you are entitled to a free credit report each year from AnnualCreditReport.com, that report won’t include a credit score.

Here are some ways you can find your credit score without having to pay for it:

1.    Bank or credit union. Many financial institutions provide credit scores to their members. The score is often found by accessing online accounts.

2.    Credit card issuer. Many credit card issuers provide credit scores to their customers.

3.    Finance apps. Some money tracker apps and similar businesses provide credit scores to their users.

By the way, pulling your credit report and checking your own score don’t negatively affect your credit score. Learn more about soft credit inquiries vs. hard credit inquiries.

The Takeaway

The two main credit score companies are FICO Score and VantageScore. Each company calculates your score in a slightly different way. Checking your credit is a great way to stay on top of your financial health. Although you may not know exactly which credit score your lender uses to make decisions, you can get a pretty good idea of your range. A number of businesses can provide your credit score free of charge, including banks and credit unions, credit card issuers, and finance apps. Obtaining a credit score from either FICO or VantageScore can help you identify your strengths and the areas where you need to improve.

The SoFi Insights app offers free credit monitoring. In addition to tracking your credit score, monitoring can help you manage your credit utilization and better understand the factors that drive your credit score.

If you like free tools to help you manage your finances, consider SoFi Insights.

FAQ

Does TransUnion use FICO or Vantage?

TransUnion uses the VantageScore 3.0 model.

Which is more accurate: VantageScore or FICO?

Both VantageScore and FICO Score are used to make lending decisions, so the score that is most accurate is the one your lender is planning to use. According to FICO, 90% of top lending institutions use their score to make lending decisions.

Which credit score is better: FICO or TransUnion?

TransUnion provides credit scores from the VantageScore 3.0 model. Both FICO and VantageScore can provide insights into a consumer’s behavior with credit.


Photo credit: iStock/nattanapong

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SoFi’s Insights tool offers users the ability to connect both in-house accounts and external accounts using Plaid, Inc’s service. When you use the service to connect an account, you authorize SoFi to obtain account information from any external accounts as set forth in SoFi’s Terms of Use. SoFi assumes no responsibility for the timeliness, accuracy, deletion, non-delivery or failure to store any user data, loss of user data, communications, or personalization settings. You shall confirm the accuracy of Plaid data through sources independent of SoFi. The credit score provided to you is a Vantage Score® based on TransUnion™ (the “Processing Agent”) data.
Non affiliation: SoFi isn’t affiliated with any of the companies highlighted in this article.
Third-Party Brand Mentions: No brands, products, or companies mentioned are affiliated with SoFi, nor do they endorse or sponsor this article. Third-party trademarks referenced herein are property of their respective owners.
Disclaimer: Many factors affect your credit scores and the interest rates you may receive. SoFi is not a Credit Repair Organization as defined under federal or state law, including the Credit Repair Organizations Act. SoFi does not provide “credit repair” services or advice or assistance regarding “rebuilding” or “improving” your credit record, credit history, or credit rating. For details, see the FTC’s
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Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.
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