Does My Cell Phone Payment Affect My Credit Score?

A woman makes a cell phone payment that make affect her credit score
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We pay a lot of bills every month. While some of them help our credit scores, there are others that, under normal circumstances, don’t help our credit scores, even when they’re paid on time. Monthly cell phone payments fit into the latter category.

Why Timely Cell Phone Payments Don’t Help Your Credit Score

Cell phone providers don't report regular payments to the credit bureaus even though they check your credit score to decide whether to approve you for a phone contract.

That means that no matter how many on-time cell phone payments you make, they won’t help your credit score since the payments aren’t included on your credit report. It seems a little unfair that your credit is used to make a decision about a financial obligation that can’t help your credit.

Cell phone providers will also check your credit if you want to finance a new cell phone. A few cell phone carriers now allow you to finance a new cell phone with small monthly payments included with your monthly service fee. The carrier will run your credit to see whether you qualify for financing and under what terms. Even though you’re essentially being extended a loan to pay for your new phone, the payments won’t be reported to the credit bureaus and won’t help your credit score.

New Cell Phone Applications & Late Payments Can Hurt Your Score

The inquiries made to your credit history when you establish new service or finance a cell phone can affect your credit, even though the payments do not.

Credit inquiries are 10% of your credit score and only affect your credit for 12 months. After 24 months, inquiries fall off your credit report completely.

While timely cell phone payments don’t help your credit score, late payments can. Just one or two late payments typically won’t hurt your credit, as long as you catch up on the past due amount before your contract is terminated and your service provider escalates collection activity.

If you stop making cell phone payments and your account is subsequently closed, the cell phone carrier may send your account to collections. The debt collection will severely hurt your credit score. Terminating your contract without paying any resulting fee could have the same impact to your credit score.

Once a delinquent cell phone balance is on your credit report, it will stay there for seven years. Your credit score will take the biggest hit in the first few years, but your credit score can rebound with time if you make all your other credit-related payments on time and avoid future any future collections.

A Possible Workaround?

While timely cell phone payments don’t help your credit score, timely credit card payments do. If you have an open credit card, you can use it to make your cell phone payments, then turn around and pay your credit card. The timely payments on your credit card will help boost your credit score.

If you want to see which types of accounts are included on your credit report, you can order a free copy through