If you don’t own your home, you probably rent an apartment or home from someone else. If you’re a renter, that means that you have to pay your landlord every month.
Depending on your landlord, there are a lot of ways to pay your rent. Many landlords accept paper checks or online bill payments, but some landlords prefer other methods like electronic transfer or even money order. One method that most landlords won’t accept is a credit card, but there are ways that you can pay your rent using a credit card, regardless of whether your landlord usually takes cards.
While you can pay your rent with a card, it isn’t always a good idea. Still, there are some scenarios where it’s the best option available, so knowing your options is important.
Why Would You Want to Pay Rent Using a Credit Card and Is It A Good Idea?
There are a few reasons that you might consider paying rent using a credit card.
You don’t have the cash to make rent
If you simply don’t have the money in your checking account to make rent this month, you might turn to your credit card out of desperation. Many people have credit cards, and they’re often the easiest way to borrow money, so turning to your card in desperate times is natural.
Using credit cards out of desperation come with a number of risks. One is that using your card to pay your rent usually adds a fee to your payment. You can expect to pay a 2.5% fee to pay your rent with a card, which just puts you in even deeper financial trouble.
The other risk is interest. If you can’t come up with the money to pay your credit card bill in full by the due date, you’ll incur interest charges. Credit cards can charge 20% interest or more, making it incredibly expensive to carry a balance. If you’re struggling financially, to the point where you can’t make rent, adding expensive credit card debt to the situation will put you in a very bad place.
If you’re turning to a credit card to pay your rent because you’re having trouble making ends meet, you should consider alternatives first. Talk to your landlord and try to come up with a payment plan or look for other ways to borrow money at a lower interest rate.
You want to earn credit card rewards
Another popular reason for paying your rent with a credit card is to earn credit card rewards. Many credit cards offer cash back, points, or travel miles when you use them. If you’re trying to make the most of your rewards, the chance to add thousands of extra dollars in spending to your card each year can be appealing.
For most cards, the additional fees for paying your rent with the card outweigh the rewards that you’ll earn.
The one time that paying your rent with a credit card to earn rewards might be helpful is when you’re working toward a signup bonus.
Many credit cards offer special deals, like “earn 50,000 points when you spend $5,000 in your first three months with this card.”
For many people, spending $5,000 in three months without increasing their normal spending is difficult. Paying their rent with the card can knock out a large portion of the required spending in one go.
To make sure that paying your rent with a card to meet the signup bonus of a card makes sense, subtract the fee you’ll pay from the value of the bonus to make sure you’re still making money.
For example, if you use the Chase Freedom Unlimited card to pay your rent, you’ll earn 1.5% cash back. If your rent is $1,200 per month, you’ll earn $18 per month or $216 over the course of the year.
However, most services charge more than 1.5% as a fee for letting you pay your rent with a card. In that case, you’ll be losing money even after accounting for the cash back earned.
How You Can Pay Your Rent Using a Credit Card
There are many ways that you can pay your rent with a credit card.
Plastiq is possibly the most popular way to pay your rent using a card. You can use almost any card to make your rent payment and your landlord doesn’t need to do anything to set up the service. Plastiq makes it easy by writing and mailing a check for you after charging your card.
Signing up for a Plastiq account is free. All you have to do is provide an e-mail address and password. Once you have an account, you’ll enter your card information and the information of the person or business you need to pay. Enter the amount you’re paying and the date you need payment to arrive, and you’re good to go. You have to give Plastiq some lead time, usually a week or so, to write and mail the check, so don’t expect to be able to pay your rent a day before the due date.
Plastiq’s typical credit card payment fee is 2.5% of the amount that you’re paying. That means that if you need to send a $1,000 check to your landlord, Plastiq will charge your card for $1,025. However, Plastiq frequently offers promotions that reduce the fee and offers fee-free payments to people who refer their friends.
RadPad is another service that lets you pay rent with a credit card. Unlike Plastiq, which is more general with its use cases, RadPad is designed specifically for paying rent. To that end, the company offers a Rent Assurance policy, reimbursing you for late fees or other charges from your landlord if your payment arrives late due to RadPad’s actions.
RadPad does charge more than Plastiq, adding a 2.99% fee to payments through its service, which can make it harder to justify the expense.
PlacePay advertises itself as a way to automate your rent and to make it easier for roommates to share the cost of their rent. You can use PlacePay to set up automatic payments to your landlord and to automatically split the cost with other people. You can also set it to notify you when the due date is coming, and one of your roommates hasn’t paid their share of the rent yet.
Each person paying rent can choose their own method of payment, whether it be bank transfer, debit card, or credit card. Credit card payments incur a 2.99% fee.
If you want to use PlacePay, you’ll need to get your landlord involved and have them set up an account, which adds some additional complications to the process.
RentMoola is another service that requires your landlord to set up an account, which means it only works for renters whose landlord is willing to create an account.
One draw of RentMoola is that it gives users additional rewards and shopping deals when they pay their rent through the website. However, the site also charges a 2.99% fee if you use your card to pay rent (3.99% if you use an American Express card), making it a more expensive option than Plastiq.
If your landlord accepts rent payments through Venmo, you can use your credit card to pay your rent through the app. Venmo applies a flat 3% fee to credit card transactions, making it the most expensive option of the bunch.
Paying your rent with a credit card is usually a bad idea. If you’re low on cash, using a credit card puts you at risk of falling into an expensive cycle of credit card debt. If you’re looking for rewards, the fees usually outweigh the rewards you’ll earn.
The one time that paying your rent with your card makes sense is if you’re working toward a signup bonus. Consider whether you’ll be able to meet the spend requirement without paying your rent with the card and make sure the fee doesn’t outstrip the bonus you’ll earn before submitting your payment.