Paying rent is one of the few occasions where we still need to open up our checkbook. And while many landlords have modernized, accepting payments via Venmo or Zelle, we’re still unsure about one payment method in particular: Can you pay rent with a credit card? The short answer is yes. But there are a few things to keep in mind before you do.
First, *Can* You Pay Rent with a Credit Card?
Yes—as long as your landlord allows it. This payment method is especially useful if you a) don’t have or want to use a checkbook or b) are looking for some flexibility with the payment date. (Let’s say your rent payment is due on the first of the month, but you’d love to pay it mid-month without incurring any late fees imposed by your landlord. Paying with a credit card can give you wiggle room.)
The downside is that, while you may skirt any late fees, you’ll be on the hook for credit card convenience fees, charged either by your landlord or by a payment service, depending on the preferred method for accepting credit card payment.
3 Things to Keep in Mind Before Paying Rent with a Credit Card
• You’ll probably have to use a rent payment service. In a perfect world, your landlord would accept a credit card payment for rent without a fee attached to the transaction. But more likely, you’ll have to use an online bill payment service. Options include Plastiq, which applies a flat 2.5 percent fee to every payment issued, or RentTrack, a service that mails a paper check to your landlord while charging you a 2.95 percent fee on the amount
• Beware the processing fees. If your landlord or management company allows credit card payment without a bill payment service, there’s a good chance they’ll assess a transaction fee along with it. (This fee typically ranges from 2.5 to 2.9 percent.) So, let’s say your rent is $1,000 a month. You’ll incur a $25 fee every time you pay your landlord. (That’s an additional $300 a year, which could negate benefits like credit card rewards earned or flexibility with the payment date.)
• It could negatively impact your credit score. If you don’t pay your credit card off in full every month, your credit score could plummet, mainly due to the sudden increase in your credit utilization ratio (the total amount of debt you have in comparison to your available credit.) Ideally, you want to keep the debt you have on your cards at no higher than 30 percent. Even a temporary increase can ding your score. (And if you let that debt sit there, you’ll be paying even more in interest fees over time.)
The Only Time You Should Pay Rent with a Credit Card
Credit card rewards are a thing—and some cards (like the Chase Sapphire Preferred) really deliver on this fact. If you can confirm that the perks of paying with a credit card (say, travel credits or cash back) actually do outweigh the cost of any convenience fee incurred and you pay your credit card balance off in full every month, it is likely worth it to pay your rent with a credit card. But, again, read the fine print—if you fall behind on credit card payments, all bets (and debts) are off.