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Can You Pay Rent With Credit Cards? Is It Smart?

Updated Oct 12, 2021 | Published Jul 18, 20187 min read

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At a glance

It’s possible to pay rent with a credit card, but you’ll typically have to use a third-party service (and pay a fee, in most cases) to do so. If your landlord doesn’t accept payment through these services, you may be out of luck altogether.

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Rent day. It’s always my least favorite time of the month.

But since I have no choice about this requirement of adulthood, I’ve often wondered: Can I at least pay rent with a credit card — and earn credit card rewards?

The answer is yes. The answer to whether it’s worth it? Well, that’s a little more complicated.

The best reason to pay rent with a credit card is to get a big signup bonus. Although you’ll likely pay a fee, you’ll also earn rewards, which could allow you to come out on top.

Here’s what you need to know.

At a Glance: Paying Rent With a Credit Card

Paying rent with a credit card is possible, but it’s not always a good idea, since you’ll generally have to pay a fee on top of your rent payment.

Still interested? Here’s a quick look at how you can pay your rent with a credit card.

  • Contact your landlord to determine whether card payments are accepted. If they are, simply pay through whatever service your landlord already uses.
  • If your landlord doesn’t already accept card payments, choose a payment service from the list below that allows you to meet your landlord’s payment requirements.
  • Choose the credit card with which you’d like to pay rent, and connect it to the service you’ve chosen.
  • Pay your rent (and keep in mind that you’re going to pay a processing fee, too) with your service of choice.

How Do You Pay Rent With Credit Cards?

For certain lucky renters, their landlords or property managers offer an online rent payment method with no fees. In this case, paying your monthly rent online with a credit card (and then paying your bill in full each month) is a no-brainer.

In fact, the next time you’re apartment hunting, ask if no-fee credit card payments are an option. If they are, move that pad to the top of your list — and ride off into the sunset with your thousands of points.

The rest of us, however, will need a third party to pay our rent with credit cards.

Here are five options, along with their fees.

Company Credit Card Fee Payment Sent Via Cards Accepted Perks
Plastiq 2.5% Check, wire transfer/ACH, direct deposit Visa, Mastercard, American Express, Discover, JCB, Diners Club Occasional discounts for subscribers, guaranteed on-time delivery
RadPad 2.99% Check Visa, Mastercard, American Express, Discover, Apple Pay 100% on-time guarantee, ability to split with friends
Place (formerly RentShare) 2.99% Direct deposit Visa, Mastercard, American Express, Discover Reminders about when to pay or if your roommates haven’t paid
RentMoola 2.99% Direct deposit Visa, Mastercard, American Express “MoolaPerks” (discounts on travel, shopping, etc.) to registered users
Venmo 3% Venmo Visa, Mastercard, American Express, Discover

Since Plastiq has the lowest credit card fees, it’s probably your best bet. Sign up for its email list, and you may even find out about promotions that further reduce the fees you’ll owe.

Alternatively, if you have a rewards-earning debit card, you should consider that, too. Some of the sites offer lower fees for debit transactions, and Venmo doesn’t charge any debit card fees at all.

Note that some vendors may process credit card rent payments as cash advances — which is not what you want. Read the fine print to ensure your transactions register as purchases; that way, they’ll earn rewards and won’t start accruing interest immediately.

Here’s a quick rundown of our favorite credit cards for paying rent. We’ll dig deeper into each one later on.

Card & Rewards Annual Fee
Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer

  • 2% cash back for every purchase you make (must pay at least the minimum due on time)
    • 1% back when you make a purchase
    • 1% back when you pay for that purchase
$0
PayPal Cashback Mastercard®

  • 2% cash back on all purchases
$0
Chase Sapphire Reserve®

  • 10X Ultimate Rewards points per dollar:
    • Chase Dining through Ultimate Rewards
    • Hotel stays and Car rentals through Ultimate Rewards (after the full travel credit is used)
    • Lyft rides (through 3/31/22)
  • 5X Ultimate Rewards points per dollar on Air travel through Ultimate Rewards (after the full travel credit is used)
  • 3X Ultimate Rewards points per dollar:
    • Travel (after the full travel credit is used)
    • Dining
  • 1X Ultimate Rewards point per dollar on all other purchases
  • 50,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months
$550
The Platinum Card® from American Express

  • 5X points on tickets purchased from airlines, and on (starting 1/1/21, on up to $500,000 spent per calendar year) flights and prepaid hotels through Amex Travel
  • 2X points on other eligible purchases from Amex Travel
  • 1X point on all other eligible purchases
  • 100,000 bonus points for spending $6,000 in the first 6 months; 10X points on eligible purchases at restaurants worldwide and when you Shop Small in the U.S., on up to $25,000 in combined purchases, during the first 6 months
$695 (Rates & Fees)

Is It Wise to Pay Rent With Credit Cards?

Paying rent with a credit card is convenient, but it usually isn’t free. And it isn’t as quick as direct deposit or hand-delivering payment, either; Plastiq’s paper checks, for example, take five to seven business days to arrive.

To determine if paying rent with a credit card is worth it, you’ll need to compare the value of the points you’d earn to the fees you’d pay.

You’ll also need to ensure your transaction will count as a purchase — and not a cash advance.

Let’s break down a sample situation:

  • You have the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card (Review), for which you earn one Ultimate Rewards (UR) point per dollar spent on transactions like these.
  • UR points are worth $0.01 each when you redeem them for statement credit. When you redeem them for travel through Chase, or transfer them to a travel partner instead, you can get a value of around $0.02 per point or more.
  • Your rent is $1,000 per month, or $12,000 per year.
  • There’s a 2.5% fee to pay your rent with a credit card, amounting to an extra $300 per year.
  • For your rent payments, you spend $12,300 per year on your credit card, earning 12,300 UR points.

If you value UR points at $0.02 each, you just earned $246 worth of points — and paid $300 in fees. That’s probably not worth it…unless you place a higher value on UR points, or are in the situation below.

Does Paying Rent Build Credit?

Paying rent doesn’t ordinarily improve your credit. Credit scores are usually based on credit activity — when you borrow and repay money — and that’s not what happens with rent.

Still, it’s possible to have rent payments added to your credit reports using rent payment reporting services. Your property manager may even use such a service already, though it’s not common practice.

If your landlord doesn’t already report rent payments, you’ll have to arrange a rental reporting service yourself. Depending on the service, you’ll generally have to pay an enrollment fee up front, a recurring subscription fee, or both, and the service may require your landlord to provide some sort of approval or confirmation to avoid fraudulent reporting.

Quick Guide

Choosing a Rent Reporting Service

If you’d like to report your recent payments to the major credit bureaus, there are several services that can help get the job done. Each has its own handful of perks and drawbacks, however, so it’s important to choose carefully.

Options include (but aren’t limited to):

  • LevelCredit (formerly CreditTrack): $6.95 monthly fee, allows you to add up to 24 months of past rent payments on your current lease for an additional fee, reports to Equifax and TransUnion, no landlord involvement required
  • Rent Reporters: One-time $94.95 enrollment fee plus $9.95 monthly, reports to Equifax and TransUnion, requires landlords to verify property ownership, rent amount, and due date
  • Rental Kharma: One-time $50 setup fee plus $8.95 per month, reports to TransUnion, requires landlord verification via one phone call
  • Rock the Score: One-time $48 enrollment fee plus $6.95 per month, reports to Equifax (only if your landlord is a property manager) and TransUnion, requires landlord to verify your lease, rent amount, and due date
  • CreditMyRent: Variable pricing “as low as $14.95/mo,” reports to Equifax and TransUnion, requires landlord to verify lease or rental agreement
  • CreditRentBoost: Various monthly and annual pricing options, reports to Equifax and TransUnion, individual landlords must provide photo ID or verify identity with the company’s Landlord Department, all property owners (individual landlords and property management companies) must verify each monthly payment

When Shouldn’t You Pay Rent With a Credit Card?

One situation where you should avoid paying rent with a credit card?

If you don’t have the money, and won’t for a while. In that situation, it’d be smarter to barter with your landlord, get some roommates, change apartments — or, worst case scenario, take out a personal loan at a lower interest rate than your credit card.

If you have a credit card with a 0% APR offer, you could use it to pay rent without accruing extra interest charges. But this is a dangerous game, because once the 0% period runs out, you’ll be stuck with a balance at a high APR.

Thanks to high interest rates, charging unaffordable expenses to your credit card can quickly become an inescapable spiral. It can hurt your credit, too. Putting months of rent on your credit card will probably increase your credit utilization ratio (the amount of available credit you’re using), which can reduce your credit scores.

If, on the other hand, you’re in between paychecks, and the credit card processing fee is less than your landlord’s late fee, then charging your rent could be a wise move. When you get paid, just make sure you pay the entire balance of your credit card bill to avoid interest charges.

Can You Earn a Signup Bonus by Paying Rent?

Often, when you sign up for a new rewards card, you’ll receive a huge signup bonus for meeting a “minimum spend.” With the Chase Sapphire Preferred, for example, some applicants may get an offer of 60,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first three months (the current bonus offer may be different).

If you don’t normally spend $1,333 per month on your credit cards, it can be difficult to meet that minimum. (And the last thing you want to do is spend extra money to get a credit card bonus.)

That’s where rent comes in. Since it’s probably your biggest monthly expense, paying rent with a credit card can help you meet the minimum spend — without purchasing things you don’t need.  

Continuing with the example of the Chase Sapphire Preferred, you’d need to put your $1,000 rent on the card for three months, thereby paying $75 in fees. You’d also need to spend an additional $1,000 on other items like groceries and gas to meet the $4,000 minimum spend.

At the end of the three months, you’d have earned 64,000 points — a potential value of $1,280 or more — and paid $75 in fees.

Though this option may seem attractive, it’s still only worth it if you can’t meet the spending requirement in other ways (and therefore avoid paying fees entirely).

The Best Credit Cards for Paying Rent

If you’re in one of the situations above, or have an opportunity to pay rent with a credit card without incurring fees, which credit cards should you use? We’d certainly recommend a rewards credit card.

If you liked the sound of the example above, grab the Chase Sapphire Preferred.

Or you could consider a travel rewards or cash back credit card, or a card with a big intro bonus that will give you a high return on your spending.

Here are more cards with solid rewards categories and, in some cases, welcome bonus offers.

 

Apply Now

securely on the issuer's website

Citi® Double Cash Card - 18 month BT offer
Apply Now

securely on the issuer's website

  • Min. credit levelGood
  • Annual Fee$0
  • Purchase APR13.99% – 23.99% (Variable)

Citi is a Credit Card Insider advertiser.

  • 2% cash back for every purchase (1% back for purchases, and 1% back for payments)
  • Currently no signup bonus
  • No annual fee

There’s no signup bonus currently being offered, but if you need a card to pay rent this 2% cash back will help offset any transaction fees.

 

Apply Now

securely on the issuer's website

PayPal Cashback Mastercard®
Apply Now

securely on the issuer's website

  • Min. credit levelFair
  • Annual Fee$0
  • Purchase APR22.24%, 26.24% or 29.24% Variable
  • 2% cash back for every purchase
  • Currently no signup bonus
  • No annual fee

 

Apply Now

securely on the issuer's website

Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Apply Now

securely on the issuer's website

  • Min. credit levelExcellent
  • Annual Fee$550
  • Purchase APR16.99%-23.99% Variable
  • 10X Ultimate Rewards points per dollar on Chase Dining through Ultimate Rewards
  • 50,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months
  • $550 annual fee

 

Apply Now

securely on the issuer's website

The Platinum Card® from American Express
Apply Now

securely on the issuer's website

  • Min. credit levelGood
  • Annual Fee$695
  • Purchase APRSee Pay Over Time APR

Rates & Fees

American Express is a Credit Card Insider advertiser.

  • 5X Membership Rewards points on tickets purchased from airlines, and on flights and prepaid hotels through Amex Travel
  • 100,000 bonus points for spending $6,000 in the first 6 months; 10X points on eligible purchases at restaurants worldwide and when you Shop Small in the U.S., on up to $25,000 in combined purchases, during the first 6 months
  • $695 annual fee (Rates & Fees)
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For rates and fees of The Platinum Card® from American Express, please click here.

Written by

Susan Shain

Susan is a freelance writer who specializes in turning complex financial topics into engaging and accessible articles. She's been writing about personal finance for six years, and was previously the senior writer at The Penny Hoarder and a staff writer at Student Loan Hero. Her personal finance writing has also appeared in publications like MarketWatch and Lifehacker.

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