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Should I pay rent with a credit card?
You can, but watch out for fees and straining your account balance.
You can pay rent with a credit card if your landlord allows it or if you use rent-pay services, but paying rent with a credit card often comes with additional fees and risks. That said, many consumers’ finances are strained by the pandemic, and paying rent with a credit card might be the best course of action for staying financially afloat during these challenging times.
What to watch out for when paying rent with a credit card
- Not all landlords accept credit cards. Your landlord might not have the payment infrastructure in place to accept credit card payments, or they simply might prefer cash or checks.
- You’ll get hit with additional fees. To pay your rent with a credit card, you’ll often have to go through a specific payment processor, such as Plastiq or RentShare. These processors typically charge a fee, usually up to 3% of the transaction. So if your rent is $1,000 and you pay with a credit card, you could pay a fee of $30. This fee can add up quickly month over month and potentially strain your finances.
- You’re using your credit line. Rent payments are likely to take up a good portion of your credit balance each month. This can push your credit utilization over the suggested 30%, which can damage your credit score over the long run.
- Rent occurs each month. It sounds obvious, but even after you’ve put a rent payment on your credit card, you’re going to have another one next month. If you can’t manage to pay off your full card account balance before that following month, you’re only going to add to your card balance and start racking up serious interest. This can rapidly put you into an even worse financial position, making credit card rent payments a dangerous method of “kicking the can down the road” when it comes to rent.
When should you pay rent using your credit card
- You’re trying to meet your credit card’s minimum spend for a signup bonus. Many signup bonuses require you to spend a minimum of thousands of dollars. Since rent is a significant expense you have to pay anyway, using a card to pay rent one month can get you closer to meeting that minimum. Just make sure that your card’s fees don’t eat up what you’ll earn in cash back, points or miles.
- It’s extremely inconvenient to pay with methods currently available. Maybe your landlord accepts mailed checks only, and the closest post office is several miles away. Or you’re traveling abroad. Paying your rent with a credit card might make sense if it’s much more convenient — even if you have to pay a fee.
- Your credit card offers rewards that outweigh your fees. If the rewards you earn from using your credit card to pay rent are greater than the fee charged by your landlord, then this could be a good option for you.
How to pay rent with a credit card
- Ask your landlord about credit payments. Most landlords won’t let you pay rent with plastic — they’ll insist on checks or direct deposits. If you’re lucky, they’ll take cards without adding a surcharge. This is less of a problem if you’re staying at a larger scale apartment complex, which often have payment portals that accept credit card payments.
- Use an online rent-pay service. An online rent-pay service works by collecting your payment that would typically go to your landlord directly and mails a check to your landlord on your behalf. This handily circumvents a landlord’s “no credit cards” rule since they’re receiving a standard-issue check payment, provided they accept third-party checks. Though your credit card payment to the rent-pay service is instant, it generally takes two to seven days for your landlord to receive the actual check. Actually paying using this method is straightforward.
- Sign up for an account on the rent-pay service of your choice.
- Initiate a new payment.
- Add your landlord’s name and address.
- Add your payment info and submit your payment.
Types of rent-pay services
Here are a few popular rent-pay services on the market. They range in fees and in which credit card networks they accept.
|Service||Credit card fee||Credit cards accepted|
|Plastiq||2.5%||Mastercard, Discover, Amex|
|Radpad||2.99%||Visa, Mastercard, Discover, Amex|
|Rentshare||2.99%||Visa, Mastercard, Discover, Amex|
|RentMoola||2.99%||Visa, Mastercard, Amex|
|TIO||Varies — typically around 2.8%||Visa, Mastercard, Discover|
|Venmo||3%||Visa, Mastercard, Discover, American Express|
Alternatives to using a credit card for rent
If you don’t have access to a credit card but still need an emergency method of paying rent, you have a few other options. These include short-term loans, government assistance and help from local charities. Check out all of your other options for paying rent aside from using your credit card.
Frequently asked questions
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