Rent is likely your biggest expense every month, but it seems like virtually every landlord prefers just one payment method: Good old-fashioned checks.
With all of those miles and points you can earn for credit card rewards, charging your rent to a rewards card sounds appealing. Read on to find out how to pay rent with a credit card, and whether or not it makes sense for you.
How to set up rental payments with a credit card
Paying your rent with a credit card is not as simple as paying with a check, but the rewards can be well worth your while. In general, there are two methods to do this: through your landlord’s payment center, or through an online credit card bill payment platform.
Use your landlord’s payment system
Can you pay rent with a credit card through your landlord’s current system? If you rent from a large company or have a landlord using an online tenant management platform, you might already be able to.
I live in an apartment managed by a company that uses RentPayment. I can pay my rent directly from my bank account for $4.95, with a debit card for a 0.95% fee, or a credit card for a 2.95% fee.
Going with their credit card option would leave me with nearly $70 in fees every month, but using my bank’s bill pay is free, so that’s how I pay my rent.
However, that doesn’t mean I’ve never considered paying with a credit card for a month or two to earn a major signup bonus.
Try a third-party company
If your landlord does not offer online rent payments or you would have to pay a high fee like me, there are other options available.
Companies such as RentShare and RentTrack give you the option to pay your rent with a credit card. When you do, the vendor will charge your card and either mail your landlord a check or direct deposit the funds to your landlord’s bank account.
One of the most popular options for paying rent with a credit card is Plastiq. They generally charge 2.5% for credit card payments (one of the lowest fees around), but there are often promotions where you can pay even less.
You will need to plan ahead with this method; according to some reviews, paper checks can take up to two weeks to deliver, so if you decide to pay your rent with Plastiq make sure to send it early enough to avoid a late fee.
Do the math for yourself to decide
It’s certainly possible to pay rent using a credit card, but are those 2 to 3% fees worth it? Let’s do the math and find out.
For a simple example, assume your rent is $1,000 per month. If you were to pay your rent directly to your landlord with a check, your annual cost for rent is $12,000 per year.
Using Plastiq, you would pay an additional 2.5% in fees, assuming you didn’t use a promotion. That’s $25 per month, or $300 per year, in fees.
If you use the Chase Sapphire Preferred card, one of the best cards for travel hacking, you would charge $12,300 per year for rent to your card. Assuming you get 2 cents per point for the card’s reward program, you would earn 12,300 points worth $246.
It’s a narrow margin, but you would be losing money by paying with a credit card in this case. It would cost you $300 to use your credit card, but you’d only earn $246 back in rewards.
To break even, you have to get at least 2.4 cents in value from your miles and points to make it worthwhile.
That’s tough to pull off, but completely possible. If, for example, you use your points for international business class flights, you can get about three times that per point.
The decision to use your rewards credit card to pay your rent should be made carefully. Consider what card you want to charge rent to, study its reward program, and decide how to use your miles and points to your biggest advantage.
Do your habits allow you to pay rent with a credit card?
Now that you know how to pay rent with a credit card, it’s important to decide if you should pay rent with a credit card. Everyone has different habits when it comes to credit cards, and getting into debt to pay the rent can be a big personal finance mistake.
If you want to pay rent with a credit card, you need to pay off your bill in full and on time every month to avoid finance charges. This will ensure you improve your credit score and don’t end up spending hundreds or thousands of dollars on interest and fees.
If your history with credit cards is anything but perfect, you should seriously consider whether or not this is worthwhile for you. If there’s a chance that paying your rent with a credit card will lead to future money problems, don’t risk it.
Paying rent with your credit card can be smart
Paying your rent with your credit card is not only possible, but in some cases, it can make a lot of sense. Even if you would lose money paying your regular rent with your credit card, paying for just one or two months could be enough to help you reach a big signup bonus.
To decide what’s right for you, consider your rent amount, credit card fees, and how you use your credit card rewards.
Be strategic and plan ahead. In some cases, you’ll get a great deal. In others, you could end up losing money paying your rent with your credit card.
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