Credit cards are a convenient option for making everyday purchases, especially if you want to earn rewards with a cash back credit card or cover expenses until payday. But there are some expenses you usually can’t pay with your credit card, including rent. However, if your landlord doesn’t accept credit card payments, you can still pay your rent with a credit card through third-party payment services.
Charging your monthly rent on a credit card may be convenient, but it’s important to consider the benefits and downsides first. Here’s what you need to know to decide if it’s the right move for you.
How to pay rent with a credit card
There are two ways you can pay your rent with a credit card. You can go directly through your landlord or use a third-party payment service.
Pay rent directly to your landlord
If your landlord accepts credit card payments, you can submit your payment directly. Many landlords, especially larger property management companies, have software set up to accept payments, either in-person or online.
Before you use your credit card to pay your rent, check with your landlord to find out if you’ll be on the hook for any fees. For example, if a payment service charges a 3 percent processing fee, your $1,500 rent payment will effectively become $1,545.
Pay rent through third-party services
If your landlord or property management service doesn’t allow credit cards as a payment option, you might consider using a third-party payment platform service to help you pay your rent with your credit card.
- Plastiq: Plastiq is an online bill payment service that enables you to pay rent with your credit card, and your landlord does not need to have a Plastiq account. The company applies a 2.85 percent fee for credit card payments, and you can make payments manually or schedule them automatically for a specific time. Plastiq completes the transaction by issuing your landlord a check or electronic payment.
- PlacePay: This online service allows you to split rent costs with roommates and pay rent using your bank account or credit card for a 2.99 percent transaction fee. You can also schedule automatic payments or pay when you want on your mobile device or desktop. When you submit your payment, PlacePay will deposit funds directly into your landlord’s account.
- RentMoola: This platform gives you the opportunity to double-dip your rewards points. In addition to earning points when you pay rent with a rewards credit card, RentMoola also gives you the chance to earn points through MoolaPerks. Through this rewards program, you can redeem points for deals with shopping, travel and home service providers. RentMoola charges a 2.99 percent service fee when you pay rent using a Visa or Mastercard and a 3.99 percent fee when you pay with an American Express card.
- PayPal: If your landlord has a PayPal account, they may allow you to pay rent using the PayPal app. You can make debit card or credit card payments through PayPal. While debit card payments are free, credit card transactions require you to pay a 2.9 percent fee plus $0.30 per transaction.
- Venmo: Venmo is a peer-to-peer payment app that enables you to send money to anyone with a Venmo account. If your landlord agrees to accept your rent payments through the Venmo app, you’ll have to pay a 3 percent fee to charge the rent to your credit card (or you can avoid a fee by paying with a debit card).
The advantages of paying rent with a credit card
Let’s walk through the three primary reasons you might want to pay your rent with a credit card to better understand if it’s a good idea or not.
If you’re short on cash, you may be looking to avoid a late payment fee or stave off eviction by charging your rent to your credit card. Keep in mind, borrowing to cover rent or other bills can turn into a risky habit if you’re not careful. Make sure to pay your credit card bill before the due date to prevent interest charges from piling up. For this reason, using a credit card to buy time should only be considered as a last resort option as it can lead to a cycle of debt.
One advantage of paying rent with a credit card is that you’ll earn cash back, travel or other credit card rewards. If it’s cash back rewards you’re seeking, you’ll usually find base rewards rates ranging from 1 percent to 2 percent. If you charge a $1,500 rent payment on your rewards card, you could earn $15 to $30 in cash back every month. Keep in mind, though, you may end up paying more in processing fees since fees for third-party payment services are often higher than 2 percent.
Qualify for a welcome bonus
You might consider paying rent with your credit card to earn a new card’s introductory bonus, especially if you wouldn’t qualify otherwise. For example, let’s say you’re approved for a credit card that offers a huge haul of bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first three months of opening your account. If you charge $1,500 a month in rent payments to the card for those three months, you’ll end up spending a total of $4,500, which is more than enough to earn the intro bonus. Of course, you’ll need a solid plan to repay the balance before the due date each month to eliminate your debt and avoid costly interest charges.
The downsides of paying rent with a credit card
As with any financial decision, it’s good practice to weigh the benefits versus the risks. Let’s review the following risks to help determine if it’s worth it to pay for your rent with a credit card.
While it’s convenient to use a credit card, especially if you’re in a financial bind, it can lead to a vicious debt cycle if you’re unable to make your credit card payments on time. Currently, the average credit card interest rate is around 16 percent. If your balance rolls into the next billing cycle, the interest will mount quickly and likely eliminate any benefits you received by charging your rent to your credit card.
If you’re using a third-party payment company to pay your rent, the processing fees you incur could be considerable and could negate any credit card rewards you earn. And, if you continue to pay via a payment service, your transaction fees will add up over time. For example, if you use Plastiq to pay your monthly $1,500 rent payment, you’ll be on the hook for a $42.75 fee each time (2.85 percent). That adds up to a sizable $513 per year.
Risk to your credit
Paying your rent with a credit card will likely increase your credit utilization ratio, which is the percentage of your available balance you’re using. Your credit utilization ratio is significant because it accounts for 30 percent of your credit score. Individuals with high credit scores tend to have lower credit utilization ratios, and it’s a smart idea to keep your ratio on each of your credit cards below 30 percent. To quickly determine your current ratio, check out Bankrate’s credit utilization ratio calculator.
The bottom line
Can you pay your rent with a credit card? Yes, but it’s not always a good idea. If you can pay your credit card bill in full without accruing interest charges, and the value of the rewards is greater than the processing fees you’d be on the hook for, then it may make sense.
However, if you’re unable to pay your credit bill on time each month, paying your rent using your credit card could be a risky move. Failing to pay off your balance on time could harm your credit score and lead to a cycle of debt. Weigh the advantages and downsides as they relate to your financial situation so you can make the best decision for your circumstances.