Experian adds rent payments to credit reports

Credit cards

TEXT OF STORY

Kai Ryssdal: Here's one for all the renters out there. Experian, one of the big three consumer credit bureaus, has started adding rent payment history into its reports. That's in addition to things like credit cards and mortgage payments.

Marketplace's Sarah Gardner explains that's good news for the growing number of Americans paying their landlord instead of their bank.


Sarah Gardner: One-third of Americans are renters and that number is growing, thanks in part to the mortgage crisis. Gail Cunningham is with the National Foundation for Credit Counseling. She says Experian's move could potentially help millions of Americans get back on track.

Gail Cunningham: So many folks out there are trying to rebuild their credit and are having a very difficult time doing so. This will allow millions of consumers to begin rebuilding, or establishing perhaps for the first time, their own credit.

Those first-timers include people like students or recent immigrants, who have trouble establishing a credit history because they don't have homes or credit cards. Of course, rental data could work against them, as well, says Greg McBride of Bankrate.com.

Greg McBride: The people that won't benefit are the people that have trouble making those rent payments. Skipping out on the rent or punching holes in the wall is going to cost you more than your security deposit.

Experian will initially only report positive rental data but by next year its plans to throw in negative histories too. But the big question is whether the rental data will affect the ability of consumers to get bank loans.

Liz Pulliam Weston is the author of "The Ten Commandments of Money." She says most banks use FICO scores to make loan decisions, and FICO's creators haven't decided yet whether to incorporate the rental data into their formula.

Liz Pulliam Weston: So if FICO isn't playing ball, then the impact of this is going to be pretty limited.

Right now over 90 percent of banks and credit unions use FICO scores when deciding whether to give out a loan.

I'm Sarah Gardner for Marketplace.

About the author

Nancy Marshall-Genzer is a senior reporter for Marketplace based in Washington, D.C. covering daily news.

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