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

Susan Shain

Susan Shain | Blog

Jul 18, 2018 | Updated Jul 19, 2018

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.

How to Pay Rent With Credit Cards

For certain lucky souls, their landlords or property managers offer online rent payments with no fees. In this case, paying your rent 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, 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.

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 Reward (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.

The Most Common Reason to Pay Rent With Credit Cards

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, you’ll earn 50,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first three months.

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

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 54,000 points — a value of $1,080 — and paid $75 in fees.

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

When You Definitely Shouldn’t 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’ll hurt your credit, too. Putting months of rent on your credit card will increase your credit utilization ratio (the amount of available credit you’re using), which will 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.

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, which waives its annual fee for the first year.

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

Here are more cards with solid cash back categories and signup bonus offers.

  • 2% cash back for online purchase, with other bonus categories
  • $100 cash bonus for spending $500 in the first 3 months
  • No annual fee

This signup bonus is pretty small, but since you’ll get 2% back for online purchases that will help lighten the load of any transaction fee.

  • 2% cash back for every purchase
  • 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.

  • 3X Chase UR points on travel and dining
  • 50,000 bonus points for spending $4,000 in the first 3 months
  • $450 annual fee

Designed for frequent travelers, this signup bonus is worth $750 when you redeem those points through Chase Ultimate Rewards. Or they could be worth $1,000 or more with a point transfer.

  • 5X Membership Rewards points on tickets purchased from airlines, and on flights and hotels through Amex Travel
  • 60,000 bonus points for spending $5,000 in the first 3 months
  • $550 annual fee

The Amex Platinum card has one of the higher spending requirements we’ve seen. So unless you’re going to spend a lot on travel, you might need to pay rent with this card to reach the signup bonus. Those 60,000 points can be worth around $1,200 when transferred to airline or hotel partners, or possibly more.

Was this helpful?

The responses below are not provided or commissioned by bank advertisers. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by bank advertisers. It is not the bank advertisers' responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

The Insider

Kat Tretina
Review of the American Express® Gold Card
Kat Tretina | Oct 19, 2018

With a $250 annual fee, some people might avoid the American Express Gold Card. But reconsider: it delivers exceptional value for travelers and foodies.

Read More
Susan Shain
What Are the World’s Most Exclusive Luxury Credit Cards? Here Are 8
Susan Shain | Oct 15, 2018

Want to see how the other half lives? Here are the world's most exclusive credit cards — one even has diamonds on it! We also share 3 you can apply for.

Read More
Kat Tretina
Review of the Citi ThankYou® Preferred Card for College Students
Kat Tretina | Oct 11, 2018

The Citi ThankYou Preferred Card for College Students is made for limited credit and offers 2X points on dining and entertainment, plus other benefits.

Read More