Rent is a common, necessary expense, but how does renting affect your credit score? Paying your landlord on time (or not) every month reflects your general financial habits, which is what your credit score generally reflects–if you honor the payments on your credit cards, your purchases, your loans, your mortgage, etc. 

When your rent payment history is reported to the credit bureaus, the timeliness of those payments impacts your credit in either direction. To help you further understand how renting affects your credit score, we’ve compiled a list of answers to related FAQs below. 

What score do I need to rent an apartment?

A 2020 analysis of over 5 million renters performed by apartment-info analysis site RENTCafé found that the average credit score of U.S. renters was 638, and has been increasing yearly. Additionally, higher-end buildings attracted (or approved) renters with higher scores, while renters with scores in the 500s tended to live in lower-end buildings. But be warned, there is no universal minimum credit score requirement, and you will likely have to compare different criteria amongst landlords. Also, certain neighborhoods or especially competitive cities like New York might also require higher scores.

Landlords tend to look for scores in the 600s, and many will typically only consider renter applicants with a credit score above 650. If you fall below these marks, don’t despair — there are workarounds to bad credit that you can utilize and still be able to rent an apartment.

Is reporting my rent payments to a credit bureau an effective way to build my credit?

Simply paying your rent will not help you build credit, unless you pay with your credit card. However, by paying your rent with a credit card you might run the risk of high interest rates. However, reporting your consistent and on-time payments can help you build credit.

Having proof that you consistently paid your rent on time for the duration of an entire lease can also help you when you’re applying for your next place. This kind of documentation can persuade potential landlords to accept applications, as property managers prefer tenants who can prove a positive rental payment history.

While there are several different ways to help improve your credit score, reporting rental payments to the credit bureaus may be an option that you’ve never considered! With this information in hand, you can take the necessary steps to see if rent payment reporting is a viable option for you and get the process of increasing your credit score today.

How does paying rent with my credit card impact my credit score?

When it comes to paying your rent with a credit card, your credit score can be affected. That’s because your credit utilization ratio (the total amount of debt that you have vs the amount of available credit you have) will change. That ratio is a key factor in calculating your credit score so don’t be surprised if it goes down. For more information on how to calculate your credit utilization ratio, click here. (And while you’re at it, check your FICO credit score or request a full credit report.)

What are the benefits of paying rent with my credit card?

Paying your rent with a credit card eliminates the need to use paper checks and removes the time you wait for the money to leave your bank account. You also may be able to earn airline miles, bonus points, or cash back depending on the type of rewards credit card you have. I mean, the more you can travel for free, the better! 

There are also several very important factors to take into account when exploring the idea of paying rent with a credit card.

Fees & interests to keep in mind:

  • You might be charged a cash advance, processing fee, or might have a high annual fee. A processing fee can be anywhere from 1.99% or higher. 

  • Keeping up with the credit card payments can be tough, and putting a large amount on the card will bring you closer to your credit limit.

  • Any credit card purchase can affect your overall credit score, so make sure you understand its impact on your ability to get another credit card, submit a rental application, or take out a mortgage.

Renting, like every other expense, can have a positive or a negative impact on your credit score–especially if you proactively report your rent payments to a credit bureau or your unpaid rent goes to collections. Chances are, you will see a more positive impact if you pay your rent on time, in full every month.

Interested in learning more about building good financial habits? Consider enrolling with Rhino’s security deposit insurance. If your rental offers Rhino, you can pay for a low-cost policy to protect your landlord against any excessive damages or missed rent, instead of handing over a hefty cash deposit.

Enter your desired rental’s address here to see if you can save on your security deposit. 

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Danae Martin

Danae Martin is a Senior Associate on the Growth Marketing team at Rhino. She enjoys soaking up sunshine, exploring new cities, and lifting heavy weights.