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5 ways to pay your rent or mortgage with a credit card

June 30, 2021
9 min read
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Your rent or mortgage is likely one of your biggest recurring expenses. And as of now, there is only one publicly available no-fee option to pay it with a credit card.

Due to bank interchange fees, accepting most 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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One option that has emerged is Bilt Rewards, a new credit card and loyalty program that allows renters to pay rent with no fees at any apartment or rental unit and offers Mastercard World Elite benefits without an annual fee.

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However, beyond this one card, there are several other 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.

Fee-free possibilities

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, 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 $432 based on TPG's valuations.

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

(Photo courtesy of Bilt)

One new option is paying with the Bilt Mastercard. This no-annual-fee card is currently the only card that doesn't charge any fees for rent.

After the first month, you can earn up to 2x on rent, with a limit of up to 4,000 points per month on rent spending (but unlimited earnings for non-rent purchases). Bilt points can be used toward a variety of redemptions, including transferring points to the following travel partners at a 1:1 ratio:

Related: Earn points on rent without fees — here’s how Bilt hopes to transform your biggest recurring expense

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 other cards

Some third-party service providers will allow you to pay your rent, mortgage and almost any other bill with virtually any 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:

CompanyFeesCards accepted
PlastiqUp to 2.85%American Express, Discover, Mastercard, Visa, Diners Club
PlacePayACH payments: $1.95

Credit or debit: 2.99%

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

Prepaid debit cards: 2.99%

Visa/Mastercard credit cards: 2.99%

American Express: 3.99%

American Express, Mastercard, Visa
VenmoDebit: 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 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 in a certain time period. Some cards, such as 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 spending requirements to earn a card's sign-up bonus or 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 for 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. (Image 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 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 1.8 cents each, according to TPG's latest valuations. Therefore, you could realize 3.6 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 10 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. Another new option is the Bilt Mastercard, but it's important to do the math to see if that card makes sense too.

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 that charges a fee (if it makes financial sense) to meet the minimum spending requirements and earn a shiny new sign-up bonus or welcome offer.

Additional reporting by Jason Steele and Stella Shon.

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

Featured image by 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.
3 / 5
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6X6x points at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy® program.
4X4x points for purchases made at restaurants worldwide, at U.S. gas stations, on wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and on U.S. purchases for shipping.
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  • Intro Offer
    Limited Time Offer: Earn 100,000 Bonus Marriott Bonvoy Points after spending $4,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months of Card Membership. Offer expires 11/2/22.

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  • Annual Fee

    $125
  • Recommended Credit
    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.

    670-850
    Excellent/Good

Why We Chose It

The Marriott Bonvoy Business Amex is a stacked card with a rewards rate that will help you earn bonus points on everyday and business-related purchases. You'll earn 15 elite night credits each calendar year, and receive automatic Gold elite status. Finally, the free night award certificate with a redemption level of 35,000 points or less can get you hundreds of dollars in potential value each year.

Pros

  • 6x points on eligible purchases at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy program
  • 4x points at restaurants worldwide, U.S. gas stations, wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and U.S. shipping
  • 2x points on all other eligible purchases
  • Earn a free-night award each card renewal month (up to 35,000 points)
  • Receive 15 elite night credits to jump-start status
  • Transfer Marriott points to 40+ airlines

Cons

  • Airline points transfer ratios are poor
  • Must spend $60,000 in a year for second free-night award
  • Limited Time Offer: Earn 100,000 Bonus Marriott Bonvoy Points after spending $4,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months of Card Membership. Offer expires 11/2/22.
  • 6x points at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy® program.
  • 4x points for purchases made at restaurants worldwide, at U.S. gas stations, on wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and on U.S. purchases for shipping.
  • 2x points on all other eligible purchases.
  • Receive a 7% discount off standard rates for reservations of standard guest rooms at hotels that participate in the Marriott Bonvoy program when you book directly. Terms and Conditions Apply.
  • Receive 1 Free Night Award every year after your Card renewal month. Plus, earn an additional Free Night Award after you spend $60K in purchases on your Card in a calendar year. Awards can be used for one night (redemption level at or under 35,000 Marriott Bonvoy® points) at hotels participating in Marriott Bonvoy®. Certain hotels have resort fees.
  • Enjoy Complimentary Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite Status with your Card.
  • Terms apply.
  • See Rates & Fees