Paying rent and mortgages with a credit card

May 4, 2021

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Editor’s note: This post has been updated with new information.

Your rent or mortgage is likely one of your biggest recurring expenses — yet there’s no publicly available, fee-free way to pay your rent or mortgage with a credit card. Due to bank interchange fees, accepting credit cards without a surcharge would mean most landlords and banks would lose 2-3% of the mortgage payment or rent due each month.

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Still, there are ways to pay your rent or mortgage with a credit card and earn big points and miles. We’ll go over the different methods and determine when it makes sense to do so.

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Fee-free possibilities

There are the rare 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 I’ve gone apartment hunting, this is actually a question on my checklist because of the potential reward value in a year’s lease. For example, if your rent is $1,200 and you pay with a Chase Freedom Unlimited that earns 1.5 % cash back (1.5x points), after 12 payments, you will have earned 21,600 Ultimate Rewards points, worth $453.60 based on TPG’s valuations. And by transferring your points over to the Chase Sapphire Preferred or Chase Sapphire Reserve, your points will be boosted by 25% and 50% when used for travel (potentially worth $567 and $680.40, respectively).

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

Sometimes, 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.

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 your debit or credit card. However, fees range from 2-3% per credit card payment, or there’s a flat fee for payments made with debit cards.

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

Services to pay your rent or mortgage with a credit card:

Company Fees Cards accepted
Plastiq Up to 2.85% American Express, Discover, Mastercard, Visa, Diners Club
PlacePay ACH payments: $1.95

Credit or debit: 2.99%

American Express, Discover, Mastercard, Visa
RentMoola Visa/Mastercard debit cards: $6.99

Prepaid debit cards: 2.99%

Visa/Mastercard credit cards: 2.99%

American Express: 3.99%

American Express, Mastercard, Visa
Venmo Debit: Free

Credit: 3%

American Express, Discover, Mastercard, Visa

Some providers, including Venmo, require both landlords and tenants to register in order to use the service. None of the ones I have scanned have lower credit card fees than Plastiq, which is by far the most popular service. Plastiq will occasionally run promotions that cut down on this fee.

Related: How to hit your card’s minimum spending bonus — even if you’ve recently returned purchases for refunds

When does it make sense?

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 in a certain time period. Some cards, like the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card, require you to spend $20,000 in the first 12 months from account opening to lock in the full-fledged 100,000 bonus miles.

A hefty rent or mortgage payment can make it a lot more feasible for you to meet the minimum spend requirements to earn a card’s sign-up bonus/welcome offer. 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 by paying with a credit card are greater than the earnings you accrue, 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.

Online bill payment site Plastiq has the lowest fees for credit card payments and routinely runs promotions. (Photo courtesy of Plastiq).

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

Which credit card is best to pay your mortgage

There’s a card that can make it worth your while during a promo or when you have fee-free dollars: The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express, since it earns 2x Membership Rewards points on the first $50,000 you spend each calendar year (then 1x). If you were to use this option to pay a $2,000 mortgage through Plastiq during a 2% promo, you’d be charged a $40 fee and earn 4,080 points.

These points are worth $81.60 based on TPG’s valuations, which peg Membership Rewards points at 2.0 cents apiece — and you could get even more value from them if you transfer them to certain loyalty program partners. If you aren’t on the Plastiq email list, I suggest you register.

Another great option is the Citi® Double Cash Card, which offers up to 2% cash back (1% at the time of purchase and another 1% when you pay the bill). You can now transfer your rewards to Citi ThankYou points, which are worth 1.7 cents each, according to TPG’s latest valuations. Therefore, you could realize 3.4 cents in value per dollar charged, which is nominally more than the cost of the fees.

Related: These are the best credit cards for everyday spending

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

Besides not earning a higher value from the points you earn compared to the fees you’re paying, there are a couple of things to keep in mind when considering paying your bills through these providers. The first is to make sure they don’t code as cash advance charges, which earn no rewards and have high interest rates. The services listed above claim to be set up to ensure it doesn’t happen, but I always call my card issuer and request the cash-advance fee be lowered as close to $0 as possible before completing a payment.

Second, you should be mindful of the length of time it can take these payments to be completed. If the provider is mailing 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. You’ll want to allow at least a full week from when you initiated payment for your landlord or mortgage provider to receive your check.

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

Related: TPG’s ten commandments of credit cards

Bottom line

Unless you’re one of the lucky few that can pay your rent or mortgage fee-free, you’ll want to decide if using a third-party payment provider makes sense given the extra fees you’ll end up paying by using a credit card. If you have access to a rewards-earning debit card, I’d inquire if 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 should only consider paying your rent or mortgage with a credit card (if it makes financial sense) to meet the minimum spend requirements and earn a shiny new sign-up bonus/welcome offer.

Additional reporting by Jason Steele and Stella Shon.

Featured photo by Craig Hudson for The Washington Post via Getty Images.

For rates and fees of the Blue Business Plus, click here.

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