A:

The bad news for consumers is that, typically, utility bills only appear on a credit report when they're delinquent. In most states, providers aren't obligated to regularly report payment histories to the major credit bureaus – in fact, there are significant disincentives for doing so. In addition to being expensive, reporting to credit agencies makes the utility company subject to the Fair Credit Reporting Act. Most don't bother with the potential legal fallout.
However, if you're significantly behind, a gas, electric or phone provider may send your account to a collection agency that could – and likely will – forward the information to one or more bureaus.

Of course, paying your bills on time will help your credit, insofar as the absence of "negative" items improves your score. But if you're looking to build credit, simply paying your gas, electric or phone bill on time usually won't do the trick. A more effective approach is to obtain a secured or unsecured credit card and use it responsibly. It's still a good idea to ask upfront whether the lender reports to all three credit bureaus – they usually do.

RELATED FAQS
  1. What's the difference between credit score and credit history?

    Check out the differences between credit score and credit history, and learn how your credit history is used to create your ... Read Answer >>
  2. What is a good credit utilization ratio?

    Understand how to calculate your credit utilization ratio, and learn the impact it has on your credit score as well as the ... Read Answer >>
  3. What are the best ways to rebuild my credit score quickly?

    Repair your credit score more quickly by talking to your lender, increasing the credit limit on your existing credit cards ... Read Answer >>
Related Articles
  1. Personal Finance

    The Top Three Credit Bureaus

    A discussion of the top three credit bureaus: what they do, how they develop your credit score – and why the credit scores they assign you may differ.
  2. Personal Finance

    6 Ways To Build Credit Without A Credit Card

    It's definitely possible – if a bit more complicated – to build a credit history without traditional credit cards. Just follow these steps.
  3. Personal Finance

    Credit Repair: How to Improve Your Credit Score

    There is no quick fix for a bad credit score, but there are several strategies you can take to improve your credit rating and save money over the long term.
  4. Personal Finance

    5 Ways to Up Your Credit Score in 90 days or Less

    Getting that credit report glowing again may be easier than you think. Read on for some quick fixes.
  5. Personal Finance

    New Rules That Could Trash (or Help) Your Credit

    Cable bills and similar financial obligations will soon be factored into your credit score. Good news if you're an on-time payer. If not, become one!
  6. Personal Finance

    7 Things You Didn't Know Affect Your Credit Score

    Having a good credit score plays a big part in being approved for a loan or a mortgage. Here are some things to watch for to keep your credit score healthy.
  7. Personal Finance

    What's On A Consumer Credit Report?

    A look at the various components and considerations that go into one's credit report and credit score.
  8. Personal Finance

    Fixing Your Credit Score: A Do It Yourself Guide

    Following these five steps can go a long way toward repairing a low score.
  9. Managing Wealth

    Business Vs. Consumer Credit Reports: What's the Difference?

    Find out the difference between a business credit report and a personal credit report, and why it should matter for business owners.
  10. Personal Finance

    3 Easy Ways To Improve Your Credit Score

    A better credit score can improve your financial future. How can you improve your score?
RELATED TERMS
  1. Credit Report

    A detailed report of an individual's credit history prepared ...
  2. Thin File

    A limited credit history which can make it difficult to get credit ...
  3. Credit Utilization Ratio

    An input used in determining a person's credit score. It is the ...
  4. Credit Score

    A credit score is a number ranging from 300-850 that depicts ...
  5. Bad Credit

    A qualification of an individual's credit history that indicates ...
  6. Negative Information

    Data in a consumer’s credit report that lowers his or her credit ...
Trading Center