Housing — which means rent if you’re not a homeowner — is the biggest ongoing expense most people have. So it makes sense that at some point, people wonder if they’re able to pay this expense with a credit card. Beyond just being cash-strapped, there are other advantages to paying your rent with a credit card.
For example, you might want to automate the payment so you never pay your rent late. Then there are the usual advantages of using a credit card over cash — purchase protection, rewards points, and the like.
But even if you wanted to, is it even possible to pay rent with a credit card?
Three Ways to Pay Rent With Credit Card
The short answer is “no.” In most normal circumstances, you cannot directly pay your rent with a credit card.
But the long answer is “yes.” There are services that exist to allow you to pay rent with credit card. You’re effectively paying a third party who then pays your rent for you. And, as with most middleman financial operations, you’re going to pay for the privilege. Here are some of the more popular ones:
RadPad, which also allows you to search for new apartments, will mail your landlord a check on your behalf – meaning your landlord doesn’t have to sign up for the service for you to use it. RadPad charges a 2.99% fee if you pay rent with a credit card, or a flat rate ($4.95-$9.95) if you use a debit card; connect your bank’s checking account and routing info, and ACH transfers are free.
RentShare is a similar service that allows a group of roommates to split rent and other expenses and keep track of who’s paid. RentShare charges 2.99% to pay rent with a credit card or debit card, and $1.95 for a bank transfer. RentShare uses direct deposit, which means your landlord will need to enroll in the service. However, the company notes that you can ask your landlord to cover some or all of the fees — which they may be willing to do, since it will likely mean consistent, on-time payments.
Plastiq is a site that lets you pay for virtually anything with a credit card, from rent to taxes to tuition, even if the recipient doesn’t accept credit card. The transaction fee for rent is 2.5%.
The problem for those looking to score points on their transactions is that any rewards points will likely be offset by the cost of the transaction fees. However, if you just want to make sure your rent is getting paid on time and tend to be forgetful about it, automating your rent payment by credit card might be worth the cost involved.
Another benefit? Most landlords aren’t going to report on-time payments, just missed payments. So if you’re paying your rent with a credit card, it can help you to build a steady credit history and improve your credit score over time. And some of these services also make it easy for you to split up your rent payment — and other household expenses, like cable or internet – with your roommates.
Before you sign up for one of these services, however, you’ll want to look to see if there isn’t a more direct way to pay your rent with a credit card. If your apartment is owned by a corporation or large property management firm rather than an individual, they’re more likely to already offer a way for you to pay your rent with a credit card.
Be Careful Before You Charge Your Rent on a Credit Card
There are a couple things you need to be cautious about before you put rent on a credit card. First, make sure that you’re instantly going to pay the money back so that you’re not racking up large amounts of debt. If you carry that balance into the next month and start paying interest on it, your already-expensive rent will become even more so — and that’s on top of the transaction fees of 2.5% or more.
Second, make sure that the space exists on your credit cards. Going over your limit is going to cost you, and having too much of your available credit card debt actively in use can be a serious problem for your credit score.
If these services help to pay your rent on time, and you’re able to recoup at least part of the transaction fees in rewards points (or your landlord is willing to cover the fees), they can be worth the additional cost. Otherwise, you’d do better to err on the side of paying your rent the old-fashioned way, with cash or a check.