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Can you pay rent with a credit card? Everything you need to know

Jan. 06, 2023
11 min read
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Editor’s note: TPG founder Brian Kelly is a Bilt advisor and investor.

This is a recurring post, regularly updated with new information.


Your rent or mortgage is likely one of your biggest recurring expenses. Unfortunately, you almost always need to use a bank account to pay these monthly balances without additional fees. Due to bank interchange fees, accepting credit cards without a surcharge would lead most landlords and banks to lose 2%-3% of the mortgage payment or rent due each month.

However, one option that emerged last year is Bilt Rewards and the Bilt Mastercard®, which allows cardholders to pay rent with no fees at any apartment or rental unit. It even offers World Elite Mastercard benefits and carries no annual fee (see rates and fees).

However, beyond this one card, there are several other ways to pay your rent or mortgage with a credit card and earn thousands of points and miles. In this guide, we’ll review the different methods and determine when it makes sense to pay your rent or mortgage with a credit card.

Pay rent with a credit card and without fees

There are few apartment complexes and landlords who will accept a credit card via an online system or through their own small business with no added fee. Consider yourself very lucky if this applies to you.

Anytime you go apartment hunting, this should be a question on your checklist because of the potential reward value in a year’s lease.

For example, let's assume your rent is $1,200 per month and you pay with a Chase Freedom Unlimited card. This card earns 1.5 % cash back (which you can turn into 1.5 Ultimate Rewards points). After 12 payments, you will have earned $216 cash back or 21,600 Ultimate Rewards points, which are worth $432 based on TPG’s valuations.

Related: The power of the Chase Trifecta: Sapphire Reserve, Ink Preferred and Freedom Unlimited

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Another option is paying with the Bilt Mastercard. This no-annual-fee card is currently the only card allowing renters to pay rent with a credit card and not pay any fees in the process.

THE POINTS GUY

Renters can earn 1 point per dollar on rent payments, up to a maximum of 50,000 points throughout the year. However, you need to make at least five total transactions on your card each month in order to earn points. Just making a rent payment using the card isn't sufficient.

It's also worth noting that the card works to pay your rent even if your landlord or apartment management company doesn't take credit cards. Simply pay your rent using the Bilt Mastercard through the Bilt Rewards app. Then, Bilt will mail a check on your behalf each month. You earn points, and your landlord gets paid.

With the Bilt Mastercard, you can also earn 3 points per dollar on dining, 2 points per dollar on travel and 1 point per dollar on other purchases. That's on top of earning 1 point per dollar on rent payments.

It's also possible to earn up to 10,000 additional points each year from purchases made on the first day of the month. Through Bilt's "Rent Day" promotion, you'll earn double points on non-rent transactions on the first of the month — the day rent is due for most people.

Bilt points can be used toward a variety of redemptions, including transferring points to the following travel partners at a 1:1 ratio:

Related: Should you use the Bilt Mastercard? Why it's a game changer for renters

You may occasionally find a landlord or even a bank willing to accept a debit card for payment with no added fee. Debit card interchange fees have been limited by the Durbin Amendment in 2010, making it more tolerable as a form of payment, since your landlord will pay fewer fees for accepting a debit card when compared to a credit card.

Related: Why a credit card is a smarter choice than a debit card

Options for paying rent with a credit card

Some third-party service providers will allow you to pay your rent, mortgage and almost any other bill with a wide range of credit cards and debit cards. However, fees range from 2%-3% per credit card payment. Payments made with a debit card often incur a flat fee.

Here’s a chart of third-party payment providers that accept credit cards, along with the respective fees.

CompanyFeesCards accepted for rent payments
PlastiqUp to 2.9%.American Express, Diners Club, Discover, Mastercard and Visa.
PlacePayACH payments: $1.95.
Credit or debit: 2.99%.
American Express, Discover, Mastercard and Visa.
RentMoolaVisa/Mastercard debit cards: $6.99.
Visa/Mastercard credit cards: 2.99%.
American Express: 3.99%.
American Express, Mastercard, UnionPay and Visa.
VenmoDebit card: Free.
Credit card: 3%
American Express, Discover, Mastercard and Visa.

Some providers, including Venmo, require both landlords and tenants to register before using the service. Plastiq is by far the most popular service and has the lowest fees. It also runs occasional promotions that further reduce the fees.

That said, the fee to pay your rent with a credit card via Plastiq has increased multiple times in recent years.

Related: Plastiq review: How to earn more points and pay lower fees

When does it make sense to pay a fee?

The easiest time to justify adding an additional fee to your rent is when you need to meet a minimum spending requirement to trigger a sign-up bonus — especially with cards requiring $5,000 or more within a limited time period. Some cards, such as the British Airways Visa Signature Card, require you to spend $20,000 in the first 12 months from account opening to lock in the full-fledged 100,000 bonus Avios. However, that bonus is worth $1,500, according to TPG's latest valuations. If your fees are less than this amount (and if you don't have other methods for meeting this spending requirement), it can make sense to incur these fees.

Related: Should I pay with a rewards credit card even if it incurs fees?

Otherwise, calculate the value of the points or miles you’ll earn to determine if they are worth more than the fee you’ll pay. If the fees for paying with a credit card are greater than the value of the rewards you'll earn, it’s likely a losing proposition to pay your rent or mortgage with a credit card.

However, when Plastiq has promos, or if you get enough friends and family to sign up through your promo code (which gives you fee-free dollars), you can come out ahead.

Related: You may have to pay a surcharge to use your credit card — here’s what to know

Online bill payment site Plastiq has the lowest fees for credit card payments for those not using Bilt. It often runs promotions for lower fees. PLASTIQ.COM

Paying your mortgage with a credit card

The same general rule holds true for paying your monthly mortgage payment with a credit card. This is almost always impossible or comes with high fees. However, there’s a card that can make it worthwhile during a promo or when you have fee-free dollars: the Citi® Double Cash Card. This card earns 2% cash back — 1% when you make the purchase and 1% when you pay your bill — but if you also have a card like the Citi Premier® Card, those rewards convert into 2 Citi ThankYou points per dollar. This provides a 3.6% return on spending, according to TPG's latest valuations.

Using this option to pay a $2,000 mortgage through Plastiq during a 2% promo, you’d pay $40 in fees and earn $72 worth of points. If you aren’t on the Plastiq email list to receive alerts for promotions like this, you should sign up.

Related: These are the best credit cards for everyday spending

Unfortunately, there are limited options for paying your mortgage with a credit card through Plastiq. American Express cards and Visa credit cards are not accepted for these payments. You can use Visa debit cards, however, in addition to cards from Discover, Diners Club and Mastercard.

What to know before you pay rent or mortgage with a credit card

In addition to ensuring that the rewards you earn are worth more than the fees you pay, there are additional considerations when paying your bills through these providers.

First, ensure these payments don’t code as cash advance charges, which earn no rewards on credit cards and have high interest rates. The services listed above claim they won't appear on your credit card statement as a cash advance, but you should run small test payments first to be sure. To prevent accidental cash advances on these payments, ask your card issuer to reduce the cash advance limit to $0 or as close to it as possible. This will prevent you from accidentally initiating a cash advance.

Second, you should be mindful of the length of time it can take for these payments to be completed. If the service will mail a physical check to your bank or landlord, you can’t request the payment the day before it’s due. Give yourself plenty of lead time, and monitor the payment closely until you have confirmation it was received. Allow at least a full week from the day you submit the payment for your landlord or mortgage provider to receive your check.

And, most importantly, you should never charge your rent or mortgage to your credit card to finance a payment you can’t afford. As always, you only come out ahead on rewards credit cards when you avoid interest charges by paying your bills in full and on time.

Related: TPG’s 10 commandments of credit cards

SOUTH_AGENCY/GETTY IMAGES

Bottom line

Unless you’re one of the lucky few who can pay your rent or mortgage with a credit card and not incur fees along the way, you’ll want to decide if using a third-party payment provider makes sense when factoring in the fees involved. For those wanting to earn points on their monthly rent payments, the Bilt Mastercard makes sense for many people.

If you have access to a rewards-earning debit card, check whether Venmo payments count for your debit card rewards program and ask your landlord to accept payment via the app.

Otherwise, as a last resort, you can use a service that assesses a fee when you pay your rent or mortgage with a credit card. Only do this if it makes financial sense and if you're earning a significant number of rewards to justify the fee you'll pay for using this service. In most cases, this will only make sense when it helps you earn a shiny new sign-up bonus or welcome offer.

Additional reporting by Jason Steele, Stella Shon and Chris Dong.

For rates and fees of the Bilt Mastercard, click here.
For the full Bilt Mastercard rewards and benefits, click here.

Featured image by SVETIKD/GETTY IMAGES
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
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    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

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Why We Chose It

There's a lot to love about the Amex Gold card. It's been a fan favorite during the pandemic because of its fantastic rewards rate on restaurants (that includes takeout and delivery in the U.S.!) and U.S. supermarkets. If you're hitting the skies soon, you'll also earn bonus points on travel. Paired with up to $120 in Uber Cash (for U.S. Uber rides or Uber Eats orders) and up to $120 in annual dining statement credits at eligible partners, there's no reason that the foodie shouldn't add this card to their wallet. Enrollment required.

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Cons

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  • Not as useful for those living outside the U.S.
  • Some may have trouble using Uber/food credits
  • Few travel perks and protections
  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S., and earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
  • Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • $120 Uber Cash on Gold: Add your Gold Card to your Uber account and each month automatically get $10 in Uber Cash for Uber Eats orders or Uber rides in the U.S., totaling up to $120 per year.
  • $120 Dining Credit: Satisfy your cravings and earn up to $10 in statement credits monthly when you pay with the American Express® Gold Card at Grubhub, The Cheesecake Factory, Goldbelly, Wine.com, Milk Bar and select Shake Shack locations. Enrollment required.
  • Choose the color that suits your style. Gold or Rose Gold.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • Annual Fee is $250.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees