Aside from mailing a check each month, there are ways to pay your mortgage that are convenient, reliable and cheap — even free. Here are the pros and cons of the various mortgage payment options.

5 ways to make mortgage payments

  1. Online
  2. Auto-withdrawal
  3. Credit card
  4. By phone
  5. By mail or in-person
Illustration by Bankrate

1. How to pay your mortgage online

The easiest option for most homeowners is to pay for their mortgage through either their bank/mortgage lender or servicer’s website. Online payments are fast, free and efficient, and paying online means you can decide when you want to make the payment, maintain a record of when it was made and ensure that it is paid by the due date.

Depending on the lender or bank, payments can also be automated without you having to log into a website each month.

“Going to your lender or loan servicer’s website and making the payment puts you in control of the timing,” says Greg McBride, CFA, chief financial analyst for Bankrate. “The downside is that this is something else each month you need to do or be reminded to do.”

2. How to pay your mortgage with automated withdrawals

Choosing automated withdrawals pulled from your checking or savings account is another easy option to make sure your mortgage is paid on time each month. This means your lender automatically withdraws the mortgage payment from your bank account on a specific day each month.

This option can be set up through your lender’s website, and once it is in place, the payments will repeat each month. This works especially well if you have recurring deposits on a set day, such as a payroll or government check.

“Automatic payments via ACH withdrawal are the easiest way to make the monthly mortgage payment,” McBride says. “It happens without the homeowner needing to take any action and it can happen even if you’re away on vacation and completely unplugged. The only downside is for those that have trouble with overdrafts as you need to make sure the money is in the account and available for immediate withdrawal each month when the payment is taken out.”

To take advantage of this option, go to your lender’s website and create an account. Next, choose the date when you want the withdrawals to occur every month. You can then log in to see when the payment was credited.

One disadvantage of this route is that you might not be able to easily change the date the payment is withdrawn from your account, especially at the last minute.

Still, setting up automated withdrawals can help homeowners who want to make additional or biweekly payments to pay off a mortgage early and cut their interest outlay.

3. How to pay your mortgage using a credit card

Paying mortgage payments by credit card can be tempting, especially if your card offers great rewards or substantial cash back. Unfortunately, many mortgage lenders are not fans of this option. “Most lenders won’t accept credit card payments for the mortgage and the services that do offer the ability to pay via credit card tend to charge a service fee that offsets the value of any rewards you’d be earning,” McBride says.

Check with your card issuer (American Express, Mastercard, Visa, Discover) first. While Mastercard allows mortgage lenders to accept debit and credit cards for payments, Visa has only given the green light for mortgage lenders to take Visa debit and prepaid card payments. With some cards, you have to  go through a third-party payment platform (and if you do, there’s a transaction fee, as McBride notes, that’ll likely erase the value of any points or cash back you earn).

Problems and emergencies, such as an illness or job loss, can and do happen, however. Until you get back on your feet, paying your mortgage with a credit card could be your only option. But you should probably consider it a one- or two-time method.

4. How to pay your mortgage by phone

Making a mortgage payment over the phone is another option, especially if you forgot to mail in your payment before the due date or have not set up a payment process online.

The phone number to call will be on your monthly bill or found online. The process is typically fairly straightforward. Before you dial, be prepared with your mortgage account number and your banking information, such as the routing and account numbers.

When you pay over the phone, the payment is typically credited to your account quickly. Before you make the payment, though, ask the servicer if there is a charge for this convenience.

5. How to pay your mortgage in-person or by mail

If your mortgage servicer is local, the company might accept payments by check or money order in person. Money orders are secure payments since they do not include any personal information, but they have one major drawback: The amount of a money order is often limited to between $700 and $1,000.

Another option is to use a certified check or a cashier’s check, which do not have a limit.

Mailing a check is a tried-and-true method, but make sure you include your account number on the check — just having your home address might not be sufficient, even if it matches the address your servicer has on file.

Sending a payment by mail, however, means you have to take into account the time it takes to mail your payment and for it to be processed by the servicer.

Tips to always pay your mortgage on time

To ensure you always pay your mortgage on time, consider setting up autopay from your bank account and, if you haven’t already, arranging for direct deposit so your paychecks get sent there. Keep in mind that most mortgage payments are due on the first of the month.

You might also choose to get ahead by prepaying your mortgage. This strategy has the added benefit of reducing your loan principal faster (just be sure to tell your lender you’d like the extra amount to go toward the principal, not the interest).

What if I’m late making a payment?

If you know you’ll be late making a mortgage payment, reach out to your mortgage servicer as soon as possible. Explain your situation and see if the servicer might be able to work with you and waive any late fees. Communicating proactively can go a long way.

Note that there is typically a grace period for late payments, too — usually 15 days.

If you know you’ll be unable to make a mortgage payment for several months, ask your servicer for forbearance. With forbearance, your mortgage payment can be reduced or paused entirely for a period of time. If the problem is permanent in nature, ask your servicer for other relief options such as a loan modification. Most servicers are willing to work with borrowers to ensure they continue to make payments on time.

Bottom line

Though there are many ways to pay a mortgage, this is the kind of thing where you should try to avoid overthinking. If you’re a disciplined sort, you can pay manually every month. But setting up automatic payments is a good approach — whether you do it from the bank end or the mortgage company end — because it saves you the effort of remembering to make a manual payment each month and helps you avoid late payments. If you run into financial problems, you can always cancel the automatic payments to try and pay the bill another way.