How to Build Credit By Paying Bills

For decades, if you wanted to get a good credit score, you had to demonstrate your ability to use credit. To do that, you had to borrow money.

Borrow money, pay it off regularly, and wait.

But while frequently using revolving credit products can help you build credit, you also risk overspending and being unable to pay off your monthly balance in full.

Thankfully, several apps are challenging the traditional credit-building process.

It’s now possible to build credit by paying bills that don’t report directly to the major credit bureaus (Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion) by using some of these apps.

Best For Learn More
stellar Fi logo
Access to financial education tools Learn More
cushion logo
Managing, paying, and building credit with BNPL Learn More
experian boost logo
Free credit building with Experian Learn More
bilt logo
Best for building credit through rent payments Learn More

These apps can help you build credit without a credit card by reporting recurring rent, streaming subscriptions, cell phone bills, and utility payments when you pay from your bank account or debit card. 


Best For: Access to financial education tools

Reports to All 3 Bureaus? Yes | Free Trial: No ($0.99 for first 30 days)

➕ Can improve your credit score quickly
➕ Reports to all three major bureaus
➕ Transparent pricing
➕ Access to free educational tools
➖ There is no free plan
➖ Limited customer support
➖ Relative newcomer to the industry

StellarFi links to your checking account to identify unreported bills that it can report to all three major credit bureaus as a monthly credit line payment. You receive a virtual payment card to pay your recurring bills, and the funds are deducted from a linked checking account.

Note that StellarFi only reports positive payments to the bureaus. So, if you can’t pay the bill on time, the negative mark doesn’t appear on your credit report like a late loan payment does. StellarFi won’t charge overdraft fees, but your bank might, so you will want to check their insufficient funds policy.

Currently, there are two pricing plans available to boost your credit score:

  • Lite: $4.99 monthly or $45.99 yearly (25% savings): Up to $500 Bill Pay limit for unlimited monthly bills.
  • Prime: $9.99 monthly or $89.99 yearly (25% savings): Up to $25,000 Bill Pay limit, earn cash rewards on successful bill payments, and receive one-on-one credit coaching.

Note: A premium plan is also coming soon that will let you have flexible payment due dates where the platform pays the bill on the payment due date. Then, you have a 60-day interest-free grace period to repay the balance. You can also coordinate ACH transfers to pay bills and enjoy built-in identity protection for more hands-on control while improving your credit history.

A StellarFi subscription also includes automatic credit score tracking, a credit score simulator, and the ability to create personalized credit goals. Upon joining, you can view your free credit report to establish a credit score benchmark to track your progress.  

Read our in-depth StellarFi review for more. 


Best For: Managing, paying, and building credit with BNPL.

Reports to All 3 Bureaus? Not yet; Experian only | Free Trial: Yes; 30 Days

➕ Syncs to bank accounts
➕ Tracks your bills
➕ 30-day free trial
➖ Paid plans only
➖ Only reports to Experian

Cushion can track and potentially build credit using buy now, pay later (BNPL) plans and other recurring bills when you use the platform’s virtual debit card as your default payment method. BNPL typically doesn’t report to the credit bureaus. 

You can link your Gmail or Yahoo email account to automatically import your plans from the best BNPL apps. Building credit from BNPL requires a paid membership, although you can simply track and organize your bill payments with a free account through an interactive calendar.

The two credit-building plan options include:

  • BNPL Builder ($4.99/month): Manage, pay, and build credit from qualifying BNPL purchases. This entry-level tier doesn’t report ordinary bill payments or subscriptions. 
  • Cushion PRO ($12.99/month): Manage, pay, and build credit from BNPL repayments, bills, and subscriptions. Soon, this plan will also allow you to protect your payments from overcharges and fraud.

Choose the Cushion PRO plan when you want the payment tracking service to report all payments, including your non-BNPL bills and subscriptions.

Eligible positive payments currently report to Experian at the end of each month. Negative payments won’t report. Cushion plans on reporting to the other bureaus, Equifax and Transunion, soon, so there’s no reason to wait.

Related: Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) Apps Like Klarna

Experian Boost

Best For: Free credit building with Experian

Reports to All 3 Bureaus? No; Experian only | Free Trial: No trial, 100% free app

➕ Free to use
➕ Reports to Experian bureau
➕ Free identity scan available
➖ Doesn’t report to Equifax or Transunion
➖ Will send you credit card and loan offers

Experian Boost is a credit builder service that connects your bank accounts and credit cards and detects on-time bill payments. It reports your payment activity to your Experian credit report. Your FICO Score 8 and corresponding credit report are updated monthly.

You can include on-time payments from the past 24 months and easily exclude late or missed payments that won’t help your score.

Eligible bill payments include:

  • Cable, television, and satellite telecom services
  • Insurance (excluding health insurance and other products not paid monthly)
  • Internet
  • Mobile or landline phones
  • Rent
  • Utilities (electric, gas, water, and waste management) 
  • Video streaming

A noteworthy complimentary perk is a personally identifiable information (PII) scan to see if your sensitive details are on the dark web or people-finder websites. 

While this service is free and can help improve your Experian credit score, this payment activity doesn’t translate to the Equifax or TransUnion bureaus. Additionally, you will receive personalized offers for credit cards, loans, and car insurance. These promotions help make free membership possible, and there is no obligation to apply for any of them.  

Read our Experian Boost review for more. 

Bilt Rewards

Best For: Building credit through rent payments

Reports to All 3 Bureaus? Yes | Free Trial: No trial, 100% free app

➕ Use monthly rent payments to build credit
➕ Earn credit card rewards
➕ Bilt Mastercard has no annual fee
➕ Reports to all three bureaus
➖ Missed payments can impact your credit score
➖ Must make five purchases per statement cycle to earn rewards

Approximately 36% of Americans rent their homes, preventing a sizable portion of households from leveraging their housing costs to improve their credit.

Bilt is a loyalty program that allows you to earn rewards when you pay your rent through Bilt. In addition, if your landlord is a part of the Bilt Alliance, you may be able to have your rent payments reported to all three credit bureaus. The free rent reporting network comprises over four million homes across the United States. 

Unlike competing rent reporting services, there are no transaction fees or additional fees for the tenant or landlord. Further, you earn Bilt Points that you can redeem for award travel, cash back, shopping, and more.    

So, what if your current residence isn’t part of the Bilt Alliance but you still want your rent payments to report to the credit bureaus?

Bilt plans on expanding its reporting feature to non-alliance properties in the future. But, for now, the best option is to apply for a Bilt World Elite Mastercard to earn 1 point per dollar on rental payments (up to 100,000 points per year) without credit card transaction fees.

The Bilt Credit Card will use direct deposit or mail a check to your rent collector at no extra cost. You still earn rent rewards and rewards on other purchases, including 3 points per dollar spent on dining and 2 points per dollar spent on travel (you must make at least five purchases per statement cycle to earn rewards). There are no annual or foreign transaction fees. (there is also a monthly Bilt Day where there are bonus rewards)

If you pay rent with a credit card, your rent payment won’t directly appear on your credit report as alternative data. Instead, it combines with your remaining credit card balance, and you will need to pay that balance in full each month to establish a positive payment history.

Unlike the other options on our list, late or missed negative payments will impact your credit history as it is a credit card tradeline. 

Read our Bilt review for more.     

Related: How to Pay Rent With a Credit Card

Can I Build Credit By Paying Bills?

Yes. payment tracking services like StellarFi, Cushion, or Experian Boost report recurring bill payments to the credit bureaus. Typically, the platform provides a virtual debit card that you use as the payment method so it can track the payment date and bill amount.

Next, it creates a line of credit to report your on-time monthly payments. So, your credit report won’t have multiple tradelines for each merchant like every loan or credit card you open. but they all appear as a lump sum. 

How much and quickly your credit score increases depends on your current score and credit profile. People with no credit history or damaged credit can potentially benefit the most. Some users report seeing an increase of as much as 50 points within the first month, but the amount can be lower after future installments for people with established credit.

One downside of bill reporting services is that they will likely charge a monthly membership fee. Another hindrance is they may only report to one or two bureaus instead of all three. A viable alternative is using a secured credit card that reports to all three bureaus and usually won’t charge an annual fee.

Why Is My Credit Score Low if I Pay My Bills on Time?

Your score can be low if you have a high credit utilization ratio on your active credit cards. A common suggestion is to only use up to 30% of your total spending limit at a time. For example, your current balance shouldn’t exceed $1,500 with a $5,000 credit limit. You may also try using a credit builder service to track your monthly bill payments and report them to the credit reporting agencies to receive “extra credit” potentially.

What Is a Credit Builder Loan?

A credit builder loan is another option for people with no, thin, or damaged credit. Unlike a regular loan, where the borrower gets the money upfront and repays the balance owing over time, a credit builder loan requires that payments are made before the funds are provided to the borrower. It’s like a forced savings account, but your “loan” payments are reported to one or more credit bureaus to boost your score.


Can I add utility bills to my credit report?

You can’t report utility bills directly to the three credit bureaus. It’s still possible to indirectly report your monthly on-time payments by linking them to a credit build platform or paying with a credit card. 

What bills build credit fast?

Recurring monthly bills such as a cell phone plan, streaming subscriptions, auto insurance premiums, and utilities can help boost credit. However, you must use a credit builder service to report the payments to participating credit bureaus. You can not pay your bills directly. This is a legitimate way to build credit history as most people keep these accounts open for years.

Does paying in payments build credit?

Monthly payments can increase your credit scores when reported to the credit bureaus. You can benefit the most when you have several months or years of consistent payments for one or more credit accounts.
Maintaining a low credit utilization ratio and limiting how often you apply for a new credit card or loan minimizes the number of new inquiries and account openings, temporarily reducing your score.  


Using an app to pay bills and build credit is a mostly seamless way to potentially build credit history. It can be a helpful credit-building strategy if you can’t qualify for a credit card or loan. And you don’t risk going into debt or paying high interest rates just to improve your credit score.

Just know this isn’t a be-all and end-all solution to credit building. Establishing excellent credit can take years, with multiple credit accounts reporting to more than one bureau. But apps like StellarFi, Cushion, Experian Boost, and Bilt can certainly help.

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About Josh Patoka

After graduating in $50k with student loans in May 2008 from Virginia Military Institute with a B.A. International Studies and Political Science with a minor in Spanish (he studied abroad in Sevilla, Spain for 3 months), Josh decided to sell his soul for seven years by working in the transportation industry to get out of debt ASAP and focus on doing something else with a better work-life balance.

He is a father of three and has been writing about (almost) everything personal finance since 2015. You can also find him at his own blog Money Buffalo where he shares his personal experience of becoming debt-free (twice) and taking a 50%+ pay cut when he changed careers.

Today, Josh relishes the flexibility of being self-employed and debt-free and encourages others to pursue their dreams. Josh enjoys spending his free time reading books and spending time with his wife and three children.

Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank or financial institution. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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