It’s that time again — your rent’s due. Instead of writing a check or initiating a bank transfer, have you considered paying your rent with a credit card?
It’s not the right choice for everyone, but it can make sense if you want to take advantage of credit card rewards, especially those juicy sign-up bonuses.
Before making a decision, let’s explore how you can pay your rent (or mortgage) with a credit card to rack up points or miles, and whether it makes sense for you.
Is it a good idea to pay your rent or mortgage with a credit card?
Whether it’s wise to pay your rent with a credit card depends on your exact situation and goals.
First, most services that allow you to pay your rent or mortgage with a credit will charge you a fee, typically a percentage of your payment. For example, Plastiq, a third-party service provider, charges 2.5% per transaction. However, you may be able to justify the extra charges if you’re trying to meet a credit card’s minimum spending requirement and qualify for a sign-up bonus. We’re talking about cards that may require spending at least a few thousand dollars within a three- or four-month period.
Considering your rent or mortgage is probably one of your biggest expenses, charging it to your credit card could help you meet the minimum spend without resorting to unnecessary purchases.
Sign-up bonuses aside, it could be a good idea to pay rent with a credit card if you’re between paychecks and the processing fee for credit card payments is lower than your landlord’s late fee. You could save some money with this method, but only if you pay off your credit card balance in full and on time. If you don’t, you may be stuck with your credit card’s high interest charges, which means you’re going to pay way more than you bargained for.
Could your credit score be affected?
It’s important to note that charging your rent or mortgage payments to your credit card may carry other consequences. For example, using credit to pay for a large sum could increase your credit utilization ratio and potentially lower your credit.
Your credit utilization ratio refers to how much credit you have available versus how much you’ve used. If you use more than 30% of your total credit, your credit score could go down.
Say, for example, you have a credit card with a $6,000 credit limit, and your rent is $1,500 a month. If you pay your rent with your credit card, you’ve used 25% of your available credit. Your credit score probably wouldn’t be affected with just that charge. But add in other purchases such as gas and restaurant meals, and your credit utilization ratio could surpass 30% quickly.
How can you pay rent with a credit card?
If you’re apartment hunting, ask the landlord or property manager if they offer online credit card payments with no fees. Count yourself lucky if that’s the case. If your landlord or property manager doesn’t offer the option to pay your rent using a credit card, you’ll need a third-party service to do so.
The options below charge similar fees, but they may not accept all types of credit cards:
- Place: This service charges 2.99% to pay via credit card. You can split payments with roommates and set reminders for when the rent is due. The landlord or property management company will receive payment via direct deposit.
- Plastiq: You can use most major credit cards and pay a 2.5% fee. Your landlord will receive payment via check or bank transfer. Plastiq offers a referral program where you can earn points to go toward fees.
- RadPad: Pay a flat 2.99% per transaction with a credit card and your landlord or property manager will receive payment via check. You can split payment between roommates, and your payment is guaranteed to arrive on time.
- RentMoola: Use either your Visa, Mastercard, Discover, or American Express card and pay a 2.99% fee when paying rent. You can set up recurring payments and get access to MoolaPerks, which offers exclusive deals and discounts on major retailers like Starbucks and Booking.com
One small warning: Some third-party services may process your rent payment as a cash advance. This usually results in extra fees or interest costs. Make sure your transactions are counted as purchases so you’re not caught paying more than you bargained for.
How can you pay your mortgage with a credit card?
You’ll be hard pressed to find a mortgage company that allows borrowers to pay with a credit card. On top of that, some credit card issuers may not allow you to pay your mortgage with credit. You’ll need to check the fine print to see what is and isn’t allowed.
If your credit card issuer does allow mortgage payments, your best bet may be to use third-party services like the ones mentioned above. To find out if this a possibility, contact your mortgage lender to see if you can make payments with a credit card. Otherwise, check the regulations with a third-party service. For example, Plastiq only allows mortgage payments using Mastercard or Discover cards.
Consider a money order to pay your rent
One additional way you can use your credit card to pay your rent or mortgage is to buy a money order. A money order is like a check but is more secure for whoever receives it because they are guaranteed to get their money. You have to prepay the amount you’re sending to get a money order, and there is usually an additional fee for producing the money order itself, which is made of paper, just like a check.
You can purchase money orders at a variety of places, such as your local post office, your bank, convenience stores, grocery and big-box stores, and pharmacies. However, most of these vendors will not accept credit cards as payment for money orders. Currently, Western Union and 7-Eleven are the main ones that will.
One thing to keep in mind before you go looking for your local Western Union is that money order purchases are usually treated as cash advances by credit card companies. That means in addition to the fees you have to pay for buying the money order, you could also be charged a higher interest rate and pay a cash advance fee by your card issuer. This can make the money order more costly than anticipated.
If this method doesn’t sound like your cup of tea, you could also use your credit card to purchase prepaid general-use gift cards from providers like Visa and Mastercard. Since many places that issue money orders allow you to use a debit card, these kinds of gift cards can also be accepted as payment for money orders if they have a PIN and can be run as a debit card.
Some credit card companies consider gift card purchases as cash advances, too, and many money order providers won’t run a general gift card with a PIN as a debit card. It’s always a good idea to check with your credit card and the money order provider before making any purchases to make sure you won’t be spending time and money on a method of payment that won’t be accepted.
Are the fees worth it?
It’s ultimately up to you to decide what fees make sense for you.
Let’s say you signed up for the Chase Sapphire Preferred. You’ll earn 80,000 if you spend $4,000 within the first three months. Your rent is $1,000, and you use Plastiq to make your monthly payments.
For three rent payments, you’ll end up spending $75 in Plastiq’s fees. These payments could help you reach your minimum spend requirements, earning you the 80,000 — which is equivalent to $750 worth of travel when booked through Chase’s Rewards Portal. In that scenario, the rewards you earn more than make up for the fees you paid.
But if you’re being charged fees every time you pay your rent and aren’t earning any bonuses or extra points, it’s likely not worth your time or money.
Is it a good idea to pay rent with a credit card?
It really depends on your financial situation and the card that you use. Paying your rent can be a large expenditure every month that can help you earn a lot of points or miles if you have a rewards credit card.
However, since many of the tactics you would use to pay your rent using a credit card result in additional fees or higher interest rates, you could be paying much more for your rent than you’d like. The rewards and flexibility in when you pay your rent may be worth the extra expense. It’s really up to you to decide.
Does paying bills build credit?
Paying your rent or utility bills generally doesn’t impact your credit unless you have missed so many payments that your account has gone to collections or your delinquency has been reported to the credit bureaus. In these cases, your credit is negatively affected.
Generally, it’s the bills you pay to your credit cards and loans that have a more immediate impact on building your credit. Paying what bills you can through a credit card, and then using cash to pay what you’ve charged monthly, is a good strategy for building your credit. Doing so will show that you are a responsible borrower with a positive payment history.
How can I report my rent to the credit bureaus?
Some landlords and leasing companies work with a rent reporting service, which will send your payment history to one or more credit bureaus monthly. Ask if yours does and what you need to do to have your rent payments included in their reporting. If your rent payments aren’t managed by a rent reporting service, you can sign up to use one on your own.
There are several rent reporting services that can update your credit report with your monthly payments, accept your rent payments and make sure they get to your landlord, or both. These are third-party services that often charge service or subscription fees. Some popular ones include PayYourRent, RentalKharma, RentTrack, and RentReporters.
Is it smart to pay rent with a credit card?
It depends on your situation and what you’re trying to accomplish by paying rent with a credit card. You can build credit by charging your rent and then paying it off monthly. You can also earn rewards points, miles, or cashback if you have cards that give these in return for making purchases.
With these benefits can also come drawbacks, such as increased APRs for charges that count as cash advances and fees for using third-party services. Ultimately, you have to weigh the overall costs and benefits and decide if paying your rent with a credit card is smart for your situation.
Can you pay your mortgage with Amex?
Using a credit card to directly make a mortgage payment is generally not allowed by most lenders, which means you’ll have to either use a third-party service or purchase money orders. If the service or money order provider you select accepts American Express, then yes, you can use it to pay your mortgage with this method.
Best credit cards to pay your rent or mortgage
You’ve decided you want to earn some sweet bonuses by paying for your rent or mortgage with a credit card. How do you decide which card to pick?
First, pick a credit card that offers a significant sign-up bonus. That way, you’re getting the best bang for your buck, considering you likely have to pay fees to make rent or mortgage payments with your card.
We’ve already mentioned the Chase Sapphire Preferred, which is a great all-around card, but there are others to consider. The Capital One Venture Rewards card, for instance, offers an early spend bonus of 100,000 after you spend $3,000 within the first three months.
Not much of a traveler? If you won’t get much use out of bonus miles or other travel rewards, consider one of the best rewards credit cards offering cash back card instead. For example, the Capital One Savor Cash Rewards card offers a $500 bonus after spending $3,000 within the first three months.
Before signing up for a new card, check that the issuer will work with the third-party service you want to use. Contact both the credit card company and the third-party service to make sure you can pay your rent or mortgage using their card. Otherwise, you’re stuck trying to find another way to make your monthly payments and a way to meet your minimum spend requirements.
Also, consider any annual fees you’re going to pay for your new credit card and if it’s worth it to earn those sign-up bonus. Estimate how much you could be paying in fees with a third-party service and compare it to the rewards you’ll be earning.
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