Payment Reporting Builds Credit (PRBC) is an alternative credit reporting agency that will record your payment histories for things like rent and utilities bills. PRBC says you can then use this verified credit history to supplement your FICO score and credit history from the big three reporting companies. It’s meant in part as a way to help people who don’t have extensive standard credit histories, or who have always paid monthly expenses on time but have other blots (like medical bills) on their official credit histories.
One good thing about PRBC is that your credit file is yours to view and share, and it doesn’t cost you anything to access it.
The bad news: it’s not free. If you use one of their online bill pay partners—Account Now, Billeo, or CheckFree—you’ll have to pay PRBC $5 per month to have your payment information reported back to them. [Note: We incorrectly wrote that Billeo charges $5 a month for their services, when in fact Billeo is free to use for online bill payments, bill tracking, and reminders.] If you opt to pay your bills some other way or want to confirm past payments, the PRBC charges you $20 to verify up to 36 months of rent, and $15 for other types of accounts such as phone or cable.
Ultimately, we’re not convinced a PRBC alternate credit history will help you secure a loan or a lower interest rate, and it may all be moot anyway for the next few years as lending grows increasingly scarce. It might help you with something like an apartment lease, though. If you’re a young person with no real credit history, or someone who got financially slammed from a medical disaster, it may give you a way to prove you’re not a deadbeat.