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 on your bills, 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 of the credit 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 your credit score, 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. (You can bet these lenders report to all three credit bureaus – they usually do.)

RELATED FAQS
  1. 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 >>
  2. What do creditors have to report to credit bureaus?

    Protect your credit score by understanding how creditors report information about your debts and payments, which can affect ... Read Answer >>
  3. 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 >>
Related Articles
  1. Personal Finance

    The top 3 credit bureaus

    Learn about 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

    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.
  3. 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.
  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

    Credit Score vs. Credit Report: Which Is Better?

    They sound alike, but can serve very different ends.
  6. Personal Finance

    8 Slipups That Won't Hurt Your Credit Score

    Everyone makes mistakes from time to time, but knowing what actually hurts or helps your credit score will help you present yourself in the best light possible.
  7. Personal Finance

    Is Your Credit Score at 850? It Can Be!

    Use these tips to increase your credit score and your ability to get low interest rates on loans.
  8. Personal Finance

    Why Too Many Credit Cards Can Hurt Your Credit Score

    Find out why having too many credit card accounts can adversely impact your credit score if the cards are not managed properly.
  9. Investing

    How To Boost Your Credit Score To Save Thousands

    One of the first steps you should follow before buying a home is to boost your credit score. And how do you do that? Here, we tell you how.
  10. Personal Finance

    6 Benefits of Increasing Your Credit Limit

    If you can resist the urge to overspend, then raising your credit limit could benefit you in various ways.
RELATED TERMS
  1. Credit Score

    A credit score is a number ranging from 300-850 that depicts ...
  2. Thin File

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

    A credit report is a detailed report of an individual's credit ...
  4. Credit Card Debt

    Credit card debt is a type of unsecured liability which is incurred ...
  5. Credit Utilization Ratio

    The credit utilization ratio is the percentage of a borrower’s ...
  6. Negative Information

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