Do you subscribe to Netflix, Spotify, or other online services for movies, music or gaming? If you do, you could build credit using your monthly subscription, without lifting a finger.
Using a credit card, or a secured credit card if you have no credit or bad credit, you can set up two monthly automatic payments that help you build credit while you sleep!
Here’s a little credit score life-hack to help you build credit history through a subscription service without paying a penny in interest or extra fees.
The biggest factor in your credit score is your payment history. If you have no payment history or one filled with late payments or missed payments, you may struggle to get approved for some loans and credit cards. Starting today, work to keep a 100% on-time payment history if you’re serious about building credit.
Subscriptions are one of the easiest ways to do this.
You can open a credit card, only use it for your Netflix subscription or something similar, and pay the card off automatically. This works with your iCloud subscription or gym membership as well as it does for Netflix.
By building this consistent payment history over time, you set yourself on track for a credit score that could unlock the very best interest rates, credit card rewards and other perks of excellent credit.
Pro tip: if you pay off your credit card balance in full every month by the due date, you won’t ever have to pay any interest. You also won’t rack up any credit card debt this way.
Contrary to a popular myth, you don’t have to use a credit card each month to get credit for a positive credit history. But putting a small purchase on a card each month and paying it off in full automatically keeps the account active and helps you build good credit habits.
Each month as you make payments, your card issuer reports them to the major credit bureaus. This information then shows up on your credit report, and, if it’s positive news, could improve your credit.
Step 1: Automatically pay with your credit card
To build credit watching Netflix, set up two automatic payments. Netflix and other subscriptions already require an automatic monthly charge for most accounts, which means using your debit card, bank account or credit card to pay.
To build credit with this system, make that charge on your credit card.
Step 2: Automatically pay your credit card from your bank account
Next, set up automatic payments for your credit card using your credit card website or your bank’s bill pay. In either case, the charge will be paid on time so you don’t have to pay any interest.
Just make sure your bank account always has the money to pay for the automatic charge to avoid overdrafts and related fees. Also, be aware of any cost increases from your subscription service so you don’t accidentally pay less than the amount due on your card’s autopay.
Remember, to avoid interest charges on a credit card, you have to pay off the balance in full each month.
As long as you have regular activity on the card with the automatic payments, you won’t need to use the card for anything else if your only goal is to build credit.
Your credit balances, also known as the amounts you owe or your credit utilization, are the second biggest factor in your credit, and paying off your cards in full every month is ideal for both your credit history and your bank account.
You really don’t have to do anything else. Just that one automatic monthly credit card payment for less than $20 is enough to help you establish good credit or turn around bad credit. If you need to, move your credit card due date so you can be sure to make all payments on-time and in-full and you will be in the best shape.
I have a few old credit cards that I use for Netflix, Spotify, Hulu and other subscriptions for my family. This system is tried-and-true and helps me build my own credit. It doesn’t cost anything extra if you manage it responsibly and it only benefits you.
Automatic payments help you avoid the costly mistake of a forgotten payment. Even if you plan to pay your cards early yourself, autopay acts as a backstop to prevent an expensive “oops.” And if you use it well, it can build your credit, save you time, and put you at ease that your finances are under control.
TechCrunch. "Using Spotify and Netlox payments to build your credit score?". https://techcrunch.com/2019/07/23/using-spotify-and-netflix-payments-to-build-your-credit-score-grow-credit-has-a-service-for-that/
Experian. "Boost Your Credit Score Using Netflix® Payment History". https://www.experian.com/blogs/ask-experian/boost-your-credit-score-using-netflix-payment-history/
Insider. "Experian's free credit-booster service now lets you improve your credit using your payment history for Disney+, HBO, and Hulu". https://www.businessinsider.com/personal-finance/experian-boost-adds-disney-plus-hbo-hulu-2020-10
Eric Rosenberg is a former bank manager and corporate finance worker. His work is featured at Business Insider, Credit Karma, The Balance, Investopedia, and many other websites and publications. He has a Bachelor’s degree and a MBA in finance.