Rent day. It may be your least favorite time of the month. And you may have wondered: Can I at least pay rent with a credit card – and earn credit card rewards?
The answer is yes. The answer to whether it’s worth it? Well, that’s a little more complicated.
The best reason to pay rent with a credit card is to get a big signup bonus. Although you’ll likely pay a fee, you’ll also earn rewards, which could allow you to come out on top. Here’s what you need to know.
At a Glance: Paying Rent With a Credit Card
Paying rent with a credit card is possible, but it’s not always a good idea, since you’ll generally have to pay a fee on top of your rent payment.
Still interested? Here’s a quick look at how you can pay your rent with a credit card:
- Contact your landlord to determine whether card payments are accepted. If they are, simply pay through whatever service your landlord already uses.
- If your landlord doesn’t already accept card payments, choose a payment service from the list below that allows you to meet your landlord’s payment requirements.
- Choose the credit card with which you’d like to pay rent, and connect it to the service you’ve chosen.
- Pay your rent (and keep in mind that you’re going to pay a processing fee, too) with your service of choice.
How Do You Pay Rent With Credit Cards?
For certain lucky renters, their landlords or property managers offer an online rent payment method with no fees. In this case, paying your monthly rent online with a credit card (and then paying your bill in full each month) is a no-brainer.
In fact, the next time you’re apartment hunting, ask if no-fee credit card payments are an option. If they are, move that pad to the top of your list – and ride off into the sunset with your thousands of points.
The rest of us, however, will need a third party to pay our rent with credit cards.
Here are five third-party options, along with their fees:
|Company||Credit Card Fee||Payment Sent Via||Cards Accepted||Perks|
|Plastiq||2.85%||Check, wire transfer/ACH, direct deposit||Visa, Mastercard, American Express, Discover, JCB, Diners Club||Occasional discounts for subscribers, guaranteed on-time delivery|
|Place (formerly RentShare)||2.99%||Direct deposit||Visa, Mastercard, American Express, Discover||Reminders about when to pay or if your roommates haven’t paid|
|RentMoola||2.99% (Visa & MC)3.99% (AmEx)||Direct deposit||Visa, Mastercard, American Express||“MoolaPerks” (discounts on travel, shopping, etc.) to registered users|
|Venmo||3%||Venmo||Visa, Mastercard, American Express, Discover||Pay in the app and online, can use app to pay for things other than just rent|
Since Plastiq has the lowest credit card fees, it’s probably your best bet. Sign up for its email list, and you may even find out about promotions that further reduce the fees you’ll owe.
Alternatively, if you have a rewards-earning debit card, you should consider that, too. Some of the sites offer lower fees for debit transactions, and Venmo doesn’t charge any fees when you use your debit card or bank account to pay.
Note that some vendors may process credit card rent payments as cash advances – which is not what you want. Read the fine print to ensure your transactions register as purchases; that way, they’ll earn rewards and won’t start accruing interest immediately.
Is It Wise To Pay Rent With Credit Cards?
Paying rent with a credit card is convenient, but it usually isn’t free. And it isn’t as quick as direct deposit or hand-delivering payment, either; Plastiq’s paper checks, for example, take 5 – 7 business days to arrive.
To determine if paying rent with a credit card is worth it, you’ll need to compare the value of the points or bonus you’d earn to the fees you’d pay.
You’ll also need to ensure your transaction will count as a purchase – and not a cash advance.
Does Paying Rent Build Credit?
Paying rent doesn’t ordinarily improve your credit. Credit scores are usually based on credit activity – when you borrow and repay money – and that’s not what happens with rent.
Still, it’s possible to have rent payments added to your credit reports using rent payment reporting services. Your property manager may even use such a service already, though it’s not common practice.
If your landlord doesn’t already report rent payments, you’ll have to arrange a rental reporting service yourself. Depending on the service, you’ll generally have to pay an enrollment fee upfront, a recurring subscription fee, or both, and the service may require your landlord to provide some sort of approval or confirmation to avoid fraudulent reporting.
Choosing a rent reporting service
If you’d like to report your recent payments to the major credit bureaus, there are several services that can help get the job done. Each has its own handful of perks and drawbacks, however, so it’s important to choose carefully.
Options include (but aren’t limited to):
- LevelCredit (formerly CreditTrack): $6.95 monthly fee, allows you to add up to 24 months of past rent payments on your current lease for an additional fee, reports to Equifax® and TransUnion®, no landlord involvement required
- Rent Reporters: One-time $94.95 enrollment fee plus $9.95 monthly, reports to Equifax® and TransUnion®, requires landlords to verify property ownership, rent amount, and due date
- Rental Kharma: One-time $50 setup fee plus $8.95 per month, reports to TransUnion®, requires landlord verification via one phone call
- Rock the Score: One-time $48 enrollment fee plus $6.95 per month, reports to Equifax (only if your landlord is a property manager) and TransUnion®, requires landlord to verify your lease, rent amount, and due date
- CreditMyRent: Variable pricing “as low as $14.95/mo,” reports to Equifax® and TransUnion®, requires landlord to verify lease or rental agreement
- CreditRentBoost: Various monthly and annual pricing options, reports to Equifax® and TransUnion®, individual landlords must provide photo ID or verify identity with the company’s landlord department, all property owners (individual landlords and property management companies) must verify each monthly payment
When Shouldn’t You Pay Rent With a Credit Card?
One situation where you should avoid paying rent with a credit card? If you don’t have the money, and won’t for a while.
In that situation, it’d be smarter to barter with your landlord, get some roommates, change apartments – or, worst-case scenario, take out a personal loan at a lower interest rate than your credit card.
If you have a credit card with a 0% APR offer, you could use it to pay rent without accruing extra interest charges. But this is a dangerous game because once the 0% period runs out, you’ll be stuck with a balance at a high APR.
Thanks to high interest rates, charging unaffordable expenses to your credit card can quickly become an inescapable spiral. It can hurt your credit, too. Putting months of rent on your credit card will probably increase your credit utilization ratio (the amount of available credit you’re using), which can reduce your credit scores.
If, on the other hand, you’re in between paychecks, and the credit card processing fee is less than your landlord’s late fee, then charging your rent could be a wise move. When you get paid, just make sure you pay the entire balance of your credit card bill to avoid interest charges.
Can You Earn a Signup Bonus by Paying Rent?
Often, when you sign up for a new rewards card, you’ll receive a huge signup bonus for meeting a “minimum spend.”
If you don’t normally spend $1,333 per month on your credit cards, it can be difficult to meet that minimum. And the last thing you want to do is spend extra money to get a credit card bonus.
That’s where rent comes in. Since it’s probably your biggest monthly expense, paying rent with a credit card can help you meet the minimum spend – without purchasing things you don’t need.
The Best Credit Cards for Paying Rent
If you have an opportunity to pay rent with a credit card without incurring fees, which credit cards should you use? We’d certainly recommend a rewards credit card.
You could consider a travel rewards or cash back credit card, or a card with a big intro bonus that will give you a high return on your spending.