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

6 min read
Susan Shain By Susan Shain Jul 18, 2018 | Updated Aug 20, 2020

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 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 on Lyft rides
  • 3X points on travel (after $300 credit is used)
  • 3X points on dining
  • 1X point on everything else
  • 50,000 bonus points for spending $4,000 in the first 3 months
$550
The Platinum Card® from American Express

  • 5X points on tickets purchased from airlines, and on flights and prepaid hotels through Amex Travel
  • 2X points on other eligible purchases from Amex Travel
  • 1X point on all other purchases
  • 60,000 bonus points for spending $5,000 in the first 3 months
$550 (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.

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.

 

Citi® Double Cash Card - 18 month BT offer

Our rating
Min. credit levelExcellent
Details
Annual Fee$0
Regular APR13.99% – 23.99% (Variable)
Apply Now

securely on the issuer's website

  • Earn 2% on every purchase with unlimited 1% cash back when you buy, plus an additional 1% as you pay for those purchases.
  • To earn cash back, pay at least the minimum due on time.
  • Balance Transfer Offer: 0% intro APR on Balance Transfers for 18 months. After that, the variable APR will be 13.99% – 23.99%, based on your creditworthiness.
  • Balance Transfers do not earn cash back.
  • If you transfer a balance, interest will be charged on your purchases unless you pay your entire balance (including balance transfers) by the due date each month.
  • There is a balance transfer fee of either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
  • The standard variable APR for Citi Flex Plan is 13.99% – 23.99% based on your creditworthiness. Citi Flex Plan offers are made available at Citi’s discretion.

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.

 

PayPal Cashback Mastercard®

Our rating
Min. credit levelFair
Details
Annual Fee$0
Regular APR22.24%, 26.24% or 29.24% Variable
Apply Now

securely on the issuer's website

  • Earn 2% cash back* every day, every time you make a purchase with your card. No exceptions. No rotating categories to keep track of.
  • Redeem Cash Rewards right to your PayPal balance^ and use them however you want. No redemption threshold.
  • Use your PayPal Cashback Mastercard to shop everywhere Mastercard is accepted. No purchase restrictions.
  • No Annual Fee**

*Purchases subject to credit approval. See Rewards Program Terms for details. To earn Cash Rewards, you must have an open PayPal Account in good standing to which your Card Account is linked. If your PayPal Account is closed for any reason, or if your Card Account is no longer linked to your PayPal Account, your Card Account will be closed and any Cash Rewards earned, but not redeemed, will be forfeited.

**See Rates and Fees for details.

^Important information on redeeming Cash Rewards to your PayPal balance: You need to have a PayPal Cash or PayPal Cash Plus account to have a balance. If you do not have one of those accounts, you can only transfer your Cash Rewards to your bank account or debit card linked to your PayPal account.

The PayPal Cashback Mastercard is issued by Synchrony Bank pursuant to a license by Mastercard International Incorporated. Mastercard is a registered trademark, and the circles design is a trademark of Mastercard International Incorporated.

  • 2% cash back for every purchase
  • Currently no signup bonus
  • No annual fee

 

Chase Sapphire Reserve®

Our rating
Min. credit levelExcellent
Details
Annual Fee$550
Regular APR16.99%-23.99% Variable
  • 10X Ultimate Rewards points per dollar on Lyft rides
  • 3X Chase UR points on travel (after using the full $300 travel credit) and dining
  • 50,000 bonus points for spending $4,000 in the first 3 months
  • $550 annual fee

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

 

The Platinum Card® from American Express

Our rating
Min. credit levelGood
Details
(Rates & Fees)
Annual Fee$550
Regular APRSee Pay Over Time APR
Apply Now

securely on the issuer's website

  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases in your first 3 months.
  • Enjoy VIP status and up to $200 in Uber savings on rides or eats orders in the US annually. Uber Cash and Uber VIP status available to Basic Card Member only.
  • 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel.
  • 5X Membership Rewards points on prepaid hotels booked on amextravel.com.
  • Enjoy access to the Global Lounge Collection, the only credit card airport lounge access program that includes proprietary lounge locations around the world.
  • Receive complimentary benefits with an average total value of $550 with Fine Hotels & Resorts® program at over 1,000 properties. Learn More.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit, up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year in baggage fees and more at one qualifying airline.
  • Get up to $100 in statement credits annually for purchases at Saks Fifth Avenue on your Platinum Card®. That’s up to $50 in statement credits semi-annually. Enrollment required.
  • $550 annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See 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
  • 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 earn the introductory bonus. Those 60,000 points can be worth around $1,200 when transferred to airline or hotel partners, or possibly more.

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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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