Can I Improve My Credit Score With a Utility Bill?

You cannot usually use utility bills to improve your credit. Most utility bills typically have no impact on your credit score because the information is not generally reported to credit bureaus as they are not credit accounts. However, if you become delinquent in paying your utility bills, the utilities companies could report the late payments to the credit bureaus and your credit score could decline.

Utility bills can include bills for gas, electricity, telephone, cable, internet, and water, among others. Learn how these accounts can affect your credit score and what types of credit you can use to improve your credit score, such as personal loans, mortgages, and credit cards.

Key Takeaways

  • Generally, utility bills typically do not appear on a credit report unless they're delinquent and referred to a collection agency.
  • You can use a service like Experian Boost to include utilities bills in your payment history.
  • If you have long-overdue bills, a utility company can send your account to a collection agency that can forward it to one or more of the credit bureaus.
  • If you want to improve your credit score, simply paying your utility bills on time usually won't do the trick.
  • Strategies to boost credit scores include repaying debt on time and keeping debt utilization ratios low.

Utility Bills and Credit Reports

Typically, utility bills only appear on a credit reports 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 want to bother with the potential legal fallout.

If you're significantly behind on your bills, a gas, electric, or water 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 does not ding your score.

If you want to improve a credit score, simply paying gas, electric, or water bills on time will not help much in many cases.

If you enroll in a service like Experian Boost, which allows you to include other bills in your credit history, you may be able to benefit from having a good payment history with utilities.

Credit Score Strategies

A more effective way to improve your credit score is to obtain a secured or unsecured loan and use the credit responsibly. These types of lenders report consumer information to all three credit bureaus (TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax) and paying account balances on time (and, if possible, in full) can help establish a positive credit history.

Credit bureaus look at a number of different factors in determining credit scores. The length of your credit history, your mix of credit, and new credit are among the key variables. A track record of making payments on time is the most important variable, followed by total debt owed. This is also known as credit utilization.

The credit utilization ratio measures the amount of credit used relative to the total amount of credit available.

If, for example, an individual has only used 10% of their total available credit, the credit utilization ratio is relatively low, which will have a positive effect on a credit score.

On the other hand, if you have several loans that have reached their credit limits—i.e., are "maxed out"—the credit utilization ratio will be high and will have a negative impact on your credit score. Paying down account balances or credit limit increases can lower credit utilization rates.

Do Utility Bills Show on Credit Report?

Most utility bills do not show on a credit report because utilities companies typically do not report to the main credit bureaus, which include TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax. If you are delinquent, your late payments to a utilities company may appear on a credit report.

Do Utility Companies Do Hard Inquiries?

When you apply to receive a utility, the utility company will generally do a credit check to ensure you are a customer who is likely to pay their bills. However, this will be a soft credit check and will not hurt your credit score.

Does Experian Boost Really Raise Your Credit Score?

Experian Boost is a service that allows you to include utilities like streaming services and even rent payments in your credit score. The service is intended to help you boost your credit score by proving you can make reliable regular payments, even if those payments are not to creditors. Experian says many users find success in boosting their score an average of 13 points, but there is no guarantee your score will improve.

The Bottom Line

Utilities bills typically have very minimal impact on improving your credit score. However, it is important to pay your bills on time because a utility company may report your account as delinquent, which can negatively impact your credit score.

Article Sources
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  1. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. "Does My History of Paying Utility Bills Go in My Credit Report?"

  2. Experian. "Experian Boost."

  3. My FICO. "What's in My FICO Scores?"

  4. Experian. "Do Utility Company Inquiries Hurt Your Credit Score?"

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