Upon entering the real world for the first time, one of the most shocking things to many young people is often the exorbitant cost of housing.
With so much of our monthly wages going toward that roof over our heads, it seems a shame to miss out on potential credit card rewards. But paying your rent or mortgage with a credit card isn’t always straightforward.
1. Check to Ensure Your Landlord/Bank Accepts Credit Cards
The first impediment to paying your rent or mortgage with your credit cards is your landlord or bank. Individual landlords are unlikely to accept credit card payments, often because they lack the ability to do so — but also because of the credit card processing fees merchants are charged.
Even larger rental organizations, like apartment complexes, are often unlikely to want to lose as much as 3.5% of their rent to a credit card company just for the privilege of having the payment processed.
Finding a bank or mortgage lender that directly accepts credit card payments is also a challenge. For example, mortgages from Chase cannot be paid directly by credit card; the bank only allows payments from a Chase account, transfers from other banks, checks, or money orders.
Even if your bank or landlord does accept credit cards, some credit card issuers don’t allow mortgage payments to be made with their cards. Bank of America, for instance, reportedly doesn’t allow you to charge mortgage payments with a BankAmericard.
Moreover, some entire credit card networks won’t allow credit card mortgage payments to be processed through their networks. Visa and American Express both reportedly prohibit mortgage payments made by credit card from being processed on their networks, though debit and prepaid card payments are allowed.
Visa and American Express both reportedly prohibit mortgage payments made by credit card from being processed on their networks.
Besides fees, one of the biggest beefs banks and credit card companies have with cardholders trying to make mortgage payments is the idea that those customers are essentially paying a debt with more debt.
Mortgage loans are a form of debt — and so are credit cards. Paying one with the other is really just moving debt around in many ways.
On the plus side, this does mean that most rental payments are considered in a different light. Rent isn’t generally regarded as a debt, particularly because it’s usually paid ahead of time. Therefore, most card issuers and networks allow rental payments to be made with their credit cards.
2. Watch Out for Costly Third-Party Fees
Although most landlords and banks won’t (or simply can’t) accept credit cards, there are a number of third-party companies that will allow you to use a credit card to make rent or mortgage payments.
Essentially, you pay the company with the method of your choice, and then the company sends the payment as an ACH payment or paper check to the party you designate.
The downside to these companies is that they all charge pretty stiff fees for the service, up to 3% on average.
Because the fees are so high for third-party rent or mortgage payments, it can easily override any potential rewards you might earn with your credit card for the purchase. This is especially true given that few — if any — credit cards will offer bonus rewards for rent, mortgage, or online payments.
Think of it this way: you pay your mortgage with your favorite 2% cash back card. The third-party company you use charges you a 2.5% fee for the payment. When all is said and done, you’re in the red by 0.5%.
3. Use a High-Earning Credit Card for the Most Value
The best way to counteract the high fees for paying your rent or mortgage with a credit card is to use the highest-earning card you have in your wallet (or add to your wallet for the occasion).
If you play the points game, this may mean you favorite points card, but per-point value will vary drastically depending on how you redeem.
A simpler option is a cash back card that offers a high unlimited rewards rate or one with a bonus category of which you can take advantage.
at Discover Card'ssecure website
- INTRO OFFER: Discover will match ALL the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year, automatically. There's no signing up. And no limit to how much is matched.
- Earn 5% cash back at different places each quarter like gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants, Amazon.com and more up to the quarterly maximum, each time you activate.
- Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases - automatically.
- Redeem cash back any amount, any time. Rewards never expire.
- Use your rewards at Amazon.com checkout.
- Receive FREE Social Security number alerts-Discover will monitor thousands of risky websites when you sign up.
0% for 14 months
0% for 14 months
14.24% - 25.24% Variable
The Discover it® card provides unlimited 1% cash back on all purchases that don’t qualify for bonus rewards, plus a one-time doubling of your cash back through its Cashback Match™ program that gives you an effective 2% cash back for your first year.
at Citi'ssecure website
- Earn cash back twice on every purchase with unlimited 1% cash back when you buy, plus an additional 1% cash back as you pay for those purchases.
- Receive 0% for 21 months on balance transfers made within 4 months of account opening
- Balance Transfers do not earn cash back; transfer fee applies
- 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
- No categories to track and no caps on cash back.
- No annual fee
0% for 21 months
15.74% - 25.74% (variable)
The Citi Double Cash Card has a unique cash back program that offers unlimited 2% cash back on all purchases — just not all at once. You’ll earn 1% cash back when you make your purchase, then another 1% cash back when you pay your balance.
- 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable APR of 17.24-25.99%. Balance transfer fee is 3% of the amount transferred, $5 minimum
- Earn a $150 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening
- Earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate
- Enjoy new 5% categories each quarter
- Unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases - it's automatic
- Cash Back rewards do not expire as long as your account is open and there is no minimum to redeem for cash back.
0% Intro APR on Purchases 15 months
0% Intro APR on Balance Transfers 15 months
17.24 - 25.99% Variable
While the Chase Freedom® only offers 1% cash back for non-category purchases, it does sometimes offer certain digital payment methods, like Apple Pay and Paypal, as a bonus category, which means you can earn up to 5% cash back if you make rent payments using your card and a qualifying payment service.
4. A Big Signup Bonus May Be Worth the Fees
Beyond purchase rewards, another reason you may want to use a credit card to pay your rent or mortgage despite the fees is to meet the spending requirement for a high-value signup bonus. Some cards require you spend $3,000 or more in a 90-day period, which can be tough if you don’t have many expenses.
Since housing payments typically make up at least a third of the budgets of most consumers, making those payments with your card can take you a long way to the spending requirement.
- Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
- Named "Best Premium Travel Credit Card" for 2018 by MONEY® Magazine
- $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year
- 3X points on travel immediately after earning your $300 travel credit. 3X points on dining at restaurants & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases. $0 foreign transaction fees.
- Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $750 toward travel
- 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
19.24% - 26.24% Variable
As one might expect of an elite card with a robust $450 annual fee, the Chase Sapphire Reserve® has an equally robust signup bonus — and a high spending requirement to match. On the plus side, the Ultimate Rewards® points you earn for every dollar can be worth enough to balance out most (if not all) of the transaction fees.
Similar to its sibling, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® comes with a big signup bonus — with a big spending requirement. If you can meet the requirement in the first 90 days, however, you’ll be rewarded with hundreds of dollars worth of Ultimate Rewards® points.
- Enjoy a one-time bonus of 50,000 miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $500 in travel
- Earn 2X miles on every purchase, every day. Plus earn 10X miles on thousands of hotels, through January 2020; learn more at hotels.com/venture
- Named ‘The Best Travel Card' by CNBC, 2018
- Receive up to $100 application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✔®
- Fly any airline, stay at any hotel, anytime; no blackout dates. Plus transfer your miles to over 12 leading travel loyalty programs
- Miles won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how many you can earn
17.99% - 25.24% (Variable)
$0 intro for first year; $95 after that
While the minimum spending requirement for the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card is lower than some of its peers, it can still be a stretch for those who don’t regularly charge much without adding rent or mortgage payments to the mix. With an unlimited 2X miles per dollar, you can even make up for some of the fees.
5. Some Issuers May Code the Payments As Cash Advances
Unfortunately, the third-party processor that handles your credit card payment may not be the only source of fees when it comes to paying your rent or mortgage.
In some cases, your credit card issuer may interpret your payment as a form of cash advance. Not only does this mean big cash advance fees, it also means your payment will start accruing interest right away — often at a higher rate than normal purchases.
Using those handy convenience checks often provided by your credit card company is the surest way to incur big cash advance fees. Although it seems like an everyday check, convenience checks are always treated as cash advances by credit card companies.
6. Business-Related Rents/Mortgages May Also Qualify
One of the largest chunks of a business’s overhead is often office space, be it leased space or a building owned by the business. Happily, business owners can often use the same third-party platforms to pay their business’s rent or mortgage with their favorite business credit card.
Of course, keep in mind that the same potential limitations apply to business rent or mortgage payments as for consumer payments, including only being able to use certain payment methods for some types of payments.
- Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
- Earn 3 points per $1 on the first $150,000 spent on travel and select business categories each account anniversary year
- Earn 1 point per $1 on all other purchases - with no limit to the amount you can earn
- Points are worth 25% more when you redeem for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards
- Redeem points for travel, cash back, gift cards and more - your points don't expire as long as your account is open
- No foreign transaction fees
18.24% - 23.24% Variable
The Chase Ink Business Preferred® Card is a popular choice of many businesses thanks to the versatile, valuable Ultimate Rewards® points earned on every purchase. Transferable to a number of travel partners, these points can be particularly lucrative for frequent travelers.
at the issuer'ssecure website
- Earn $500 bonus cash back after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening
- Earn 5% cash back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases at office supply stores and on internet, cable and phone services each account anniversary year
- Earn 2% cash back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases at gas stations and restaurants each account anniversary year
- Earn 1% cash back on all other card purchases with no limit to the amount you can earn
- 0% introductory APR for 12 months on purchases and balance transfers
- Employee cards at no additional cost
0% Intro APR on Purchases 12 months
0% Intro APR on Balance Transfers 12 months
15.49% - 21.49% Variable
The Chase Ink Business Cash® Card doesn’t have any points to transfer or maximize, instead offering cash back on every purchase. Cardholders earn bonus rewards in a range of useful categories on top of its unlimited 1% cash back for all non-bonus spending.
- Earning unlimited 2% cash back could mean thousands of dollars each year going back into your business
- Plus, a one-time $500 cash bonus once you spend $4,500 on purchases within 3 months from account opening
- Use Spark Cash across all your business spend, with no categories to limit your purchasing
- $0 intro annual fee for the first year; $95 after that
- Rewards won't expire for the life of the account, and you can redeem your cash back for any amount
- Get employee cards at no additional cost, and earn rewards from their business spend
$0 intro for first year; $95 after that
The Capital One® Spark® Cash for Business may be a good option for those who like simple rewards, with 2% cash back on every purchase and no bonus categories of which to keep track. There are no limits on the rewards you can earn.
7. Payments May Take a While to Arrive
Fees aren’t the only downside to paying your rent or mortgage through a third-party service, especially one that sends a paper check. That’s because you can say goodbye to day-before deposits or last-minute payments when you have to wait for money to change hands more than once.
If you select a recipient in our system, they will be funded by ACH/EFT (electronic bank transfer) in 2-3 business days. If your recipient is manually added, they will be funded by check in 5-7 business days. — Plastiq
With some services, the payment can be processed and delivered in just a few days. In other cases, you’re looking at a week or more before your payment reaches its final destination. So, if your rent or mortgage is due on the first of the month, you’d better start the ball rolling ASAP to avoid paying late.
Only You Can Decide If the Convenience is Worth the Cost
Although it’s one of the big four — along with air, water, and food — shelter is often the most expensive need on the list. And paying that big housing bill is even more frustrating for credit card rewards enthusiasts who see thousands in rewards going unearned each year.
But while you can find ways to pay your rent or mortgage with a credit card, even one that earns rewards, it isn’t always the most worthwhile procedure.
Unless you have a card with points that you value above the amount of the processing fee or are working toward a big signup bonus, you may want to skip the plastic and stick to old-fashioned checks to pay your rent or mortgage.