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Does phone bill affect credit score

does phone bill affect credit score

Phone bill payments do not affect your credit score because they are not reported on credit reports. However, there are steps you can take to add your mobile phone and other qualifying expenses to your Experian and FICO scores. 

Here, you will learn about credit scores, how they work, and how you can use your cell phone payments to help improve a bad credit score! 

What Is a Credit Score and Credit Report?

Your credit score is a core piece of financial information that lenders and financial institutions use to determine your creditworthiness or financial responsibility. Credit scores can range from a perfect 850 all the way to a starting score of 300. The average U.S. borrower has a 716 credit score.1 

Credit scores are derived from a consumer’s general financial behaviors and habits, which are kept track of on the consumer’s credit report. A credit bureau is a company that collects the financial data consumers and lenders will find on a credit report, such as payment history. The major three credit bureaus are Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion

How To Use Your Cell Phone Bills To Improve Your Credit History

Typically, data regarding minor expenses, such as your cell phone bill, are not recorded for your credit report. Instead, credit bureaus will keep track of installment loans or revolving lines of credit. However, thanks to a unique program called Experian Boost, you can now use your cellphone bill to help build credit. 

Experian Boost is a special credit score rewards program that incorporates bills and expenses that credit bureaus often ignore and adds them to your Experian credit report and FICO score. By using this rewards program, you can boost your credit just by paying for bills and subscriptions you already have.

Experian Boost can also cover more than just your cell phone bill! Other bills and expenses that could help boost your credit score with Experian Boost are: 

  • Landline phone bill
  • Internet bill
  • Cable/satellite bill
  • Utility bills like gas and electricity
  • Water bill
  • Power or solar bills
  • Rent payments (if you pay online)
  • Streaming services (like Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, etc.)
  • Trash pickup bill

To sign up for Experian Boost, simply head over to the Experian website and enter your primary bank account information. From there, Experian will keep track of your financial transactions and keep a record of any qualifying payments you make throughout the month. You may even see an instant boost in your score right after signing up!

Will Missed Payments on My Phone Bill Affect My Credit Score?

Whether your cell phone payment is connected to your credit reports or not, missing payments will have a negative effect on your credit score. Missing payments on your cell phone bills may result in declining credit and other inconveniences like late fees or other penalties. 

If you find yourself in a situation where you don’t think you will be able to afford your next phone payment, contact your servicer immediately. Cell phone carriers are often willing to adjust a payment due date or accept split payments if it means borrowers stay current on their accounts.  

Best Way To Pay Your Cell Phone Bill 

To keep your general finances and credit score intact, it is best practice to always pay your cell bill on or before the designated due date. You can set up a payment notification on your phone or your computer if you need a reminder, or you can sign up for a prepaid phone plan. 

With prepaid cell phone plans, you would pay for your phone service before you use it. Prepaid plans can be a huge help in not only making sure you never miss a cell phone payment but also in preventing surprise data charges. 

Can You Get a Cell Phone With Bad Credit? 

Wondering if you can finance a phone with bad credit? While cell phone companies may not necessarily deny you a cell phone if you don’t have good credit, the process of getting a cell phone still has the ability to affect your credit scores. 

When you apply for a cell phone, the service provider will perform a hard credit check to access your most recent credit report. Credit bureaus keep a record of hard credit inquiries and include them in your credit reports. As long as you are not going through active bankruptcy, cell phone companies will grant just about anybody a mobile device and cell phone plan.

What Kinds of Bills Are Normally on Your Credit Report?

Since your cell phone bill isn’t automatically included in your credit file, what is? Credit bureaus keep track of the following financial products for your credit account: 

  • Personal loans
  • Credit card bill
  • Mortgages

Personal Loans

You will find traditional forms of funding, like a personal loan, on your credit reports. These installment loans can come in the form of debt consolidation loans, personal lines of credit, or even bad credit loans.  

Traditional Revolving Lines of Credit

Along with personal loans, revolving lines of credit like a credit card will also be considered when determining a credit score. Credit cards can come in the form of: 

  • Secured cards
  • Authorized cards
  • Joint cards

Secured Credit Cards

Secured credit cards work much like prepaid cell phone plans in that borrowers pay upfront instead of at the end of a billing cycle. When it comes to credit reports, secured credit cards will affect your report just as much as traditional lines of credit will. 

Authorized User Credit Cards

Being an authorized user on a credit card means that someone else is the official credit account owner, but you still have access to the approved credit limit. Even though authorized users are not responsible for paying back the balance on certain credit cards, the credit line will still appear under their available credit on their credit report. 

Co-signed Loans or Joint Accounts

A co-signer loan or joint account will also play a role in establishing a borrower’s credit history. Co-signers are consumers, generally with a high FICO score, who sign a loan agreement along with the original borrower. The co-signer does not have access to the approved credit line but is responsible for paying back the balance should the original borrower become unable to fulfill the responsibility. 

You will also find joint accounts, whether they be a joint bank account, credit card, or loan, on your credit reports. Joint accounts are essentially any financial account that has two or more owners.  

Mortgages 

Unlike rent payments, payments towards a mortgage are traditionally reported on credit reports. Mortgages are loans taken out for the specific purpose of buying a home. Most consumers don’t have hundreds of thousands of dollars to drop all at once, so it’s quite common for people to take out a mortgage when they purchase a home. 

How Do the Three Major Credit Bureaus Determine Your Credit Score?

There are several credit scoring models credit reporting agencies can use to determine your score. However, the main credit score algorithm used to calculate your score consists of five financial categories. They are: 

Factor Impact on Credit ScoreStrategies for Improvement
Payment HistoryMost significant factor; late or missed payments can severely damage your score.– Always make on-time payments.
– Set up payment reminders or autopsy.
– If you miss a payment, pay as soon as possible and stay current going forward.
Credit Utilization RatioHigh utilization can indicate overreliance on credit and negatively impact your score.– Keep credit card balances low.- Pay off debt rather than moving it around.
– Avoid closing unused credit cards as it can increase your utilization ratio.
Length of Credit HistoryLonger credit history can lead to a higher score, as it provides more data on spending habits.– Keep old accounts open and active.
– Avoid opening several new accounts at once.
– If new to credit, consider secure credit cards or becoming an authorized user on an established account.
Types of Credit in UseA mix of different types of credit (e.g., credit cards, personal loans, mortgages) can benefit your score.– Diversify your credit portfolio with different types of credit.
– Manage each type of credit responsibly.
– Avoid opening multiple new lines of credit just to improve your mix.
New Credit InquiriesMultiple credit inquiries in a short time can lower your score.– Apply for new credit accounts only when necessary.
– Be aware that applying for several credit cards or loans in a short period can be seen as higher risk.
Total Amounts OwedHigh overall debt can negatively impact your score.– Pay down existing debt.
– Avoid taking on more debt than you can handle.
– Consider debt consolidation if managing multiple debts is challenging.
Public RecordsBankruptcies, foreclosures, and liens can severely damage your score.– Apply for new credit accounts only when necessary.
– Be aware that applying for several credit cards or loans in a short period can be seen as a higher risk.

Other Ways To Build Credit

Below are some tips on how you can build credit and establish a positive credit history. 

Sign-up for Autopay

One of the most efficient ways to make sure you never miss a due payment is to sign up for automatic payments, also known as autopay. With autopay, funds are taken directly from your bank account and applied to your bills and expenses on their designated due date. 

Avoid Unnecessary Credit Applications

Since hard credit checks can knock your credit score down a few points, try avoiding them unless absolutely necessary. Instead of applying for a new line of credit when you need money, try dipping into your savings or even selling some unwanted clothes to earn some extra cash. 

Consider Debt Consolidation 

If you are paying back multiple loans, try combining them all with a single debt consolidation loan. There are even personal credit builder loans that are designed to help people improve their credit scores. Not only can debt consolidation help you save money on interest rates, but you can also knock down the time it takes to pay off your debt!

FAQs About Phone Bills 

Do all credit bureaus consider phone bill payments when calculating my credit score?

While Experian allows you to add phone bill payments to your credit history, not all credit bureaus automatically include these payments in your credit score calculation. It’s always a good idea to check with each bureau to understand their specific policies.

How quickly can on-time phone bill payments impact my credit score?

On-time payments can start positively impacting your credit score relatively quickly once they’re reported. With programs like Experian Boost, you might even see a slight improvement soon after these payments are added to your credit history.

Can paying my phone bill early build credit faster than paying on the due date?

Paying early is a great habit, but it doesn’t necessarily build credit faster than making on-time payments. The key factor credit bureaus look for is whether payments are made on time, not how early they are made.

If I miss a phone bill payment, how long will it affect my credit score?

A missed payment can stay on your credit report for up to seven years. However, its impact on your credit score can decrease over time, especially if you establish a consistent pattern of on-time payments thereafter.

Does the amount of my phone bill affect how much it can build my credit?

The amount of your phone bill isn’t as crucial as the consistency of your payments. Regular, on-time payments, regardless of the amount, contribute positively to your payment history, which is a significant factor in credit score calculations.

Can switching phone providers or plans affect my credit score?

Switching phone providers or plans in itself doesn’t directly affect your credit score. However, if the switch involves a credit check or if there’s an outstanding balance on your old account, these factors could have an impact.

If I’m late on a phone bill payment, can I still recover my credit score?

Absolutely! If you’ve missed a payment, the best course of action is to pay it as soon as possible. Continuing to make future payments on time can help mitigate the impact of a single late payment on your credit score.

The Bottom Line on Building Credit With Cell Phone Bills From CreditNinja 

There are ways to build credit using your cell phone payments. However, there are also plenty of alternative methods to increase your creditworthiness. Borrowers can make on-time payments, reduce their outstanding debt, and avoid new credit inquiries. 

At CreditNinja, we aim to provide answers to all of your financial questions. We offer a free online blog that covers all types of personal finance topics. Check it out to learn how long a delinquency will stay on your credit report, how to get credit cards after bankruptcy, and more!

References: 

  1. What Is the Average Credit Score? | U.S. News
  2. Improve Your Credit Scores Instantly for Free | Experian 
  3. What Is a Credit Report & What Is on It? | Equifax
  4. What’s In Your Credit Report? | myFICO
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