5 ways to make a mortgage payment on time or in the nick of time

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

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How to pay your mortgage with online banking

The easiest option for most homeowners is to pay for their mortgage through either their bank or 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.”

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One disadvantage of this route is that you might not be able to easily change the date the payment is withdrawn from your account, especially at the last minute.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

How to pay your mortgage using a credit card

Not all issuers, such as Discover, American Express, Mastercard or Visa, permit paying mortgage payments by credit card. With some cards, this is only an option if you go through a third-party payment platform (and if you do, there’s a transaction fee).

In addition, many mortgage lenders are not fans of this option and do not accept credit cards.

“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.

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.

Check with your card issuer 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.

Paying with this method might also seem like an easy way to gain some points on a rewards credit card, but, again, the fees involved can be substantial. These will likely erase the value of any points or cash back you earn.

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 — be prepared with your mortgage account number and your banking information, such as the routing and account number.

When you pay over 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.

How to pay your mortgage in person or by post

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.

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’re unable to make a mortgage payment altogether as a result of the economic impact of COVID-19 and you have a federally-backed loan, ask your servicer for forbearance. With forbearance, your mortgage payment can be reduced or paused entirely for a period of time.

Be sure to ask your servicer for other relief options, as well, such as a loan modification.  Most servicers are willing to work with borrowers to ensure they continue to make payments on time.

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Written by
Ellen Chang
Contributing writer
Ellen Chang is a freelance journalist who is based in Houston. For Bankrate, Chang focuses her articles on mortgages, homebuying and real estate. Her byline has appeared in national business publications, including CBS News, Yahoo Finance and MSN Money.
Edited by
Mortgage editor
Reviewed by
Founder of Financial Staples
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