How to earn points paying your mortgage or rent with a credit card

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Earning miles and points with the best travel rewards credit cards is the golden ticket to unlocking free travel to pretty much about anywhere on the planet. So we try to find ways to incorporate them into every single purchase we make. You’d be surprised how many bills you can pay with a credit card and earn rewards — even if other people say you can’t.

One such example is rent and mortgage payments. Yes, there are often fees involved with using a credit card for these bills — but under the right circumstances, you can actually earn cash back or points that are worth far, far more than you’ll pay. I’ll tell you everything you need to know to pay your rent with a credit card, and when you should be doing it.

Paying your rent through websites like Radpad can help you earn welcome bonuses quickly — but are the fees worth it? (Photo by 2M media/Shutterstock)

When should you pay your rent or mortgage with a credit card?

Let’s power through the bad news first. Credit cards charge merchants (or whoever is accepting your credit card payment) interchange fees of up to 3% of each transaction. For this reason, apartment complexes and banks often make it difficult (or pricey) to use your card to pay them. They don’t want to lose 3% of their money just for your convenience! That’s why those who do provide the option usually tack on a ~3% fee for the privilege.

There are ways to lower this fee — or occasionally eliminate it. The simple question to decide whether it’s worth paying mortgage and rent with a credit card is this: Are the rewards you’re earning worth more or less than the fee you’re paying? For example:

  • If you’re paying 1.5% in fees, paying with the Citi® Double Cash Card is a good deal (earn 1% on purchases, and another 1% when you pay off those purchases, for a total of 2%) The information for the Citi Double Cash Card has been collected independently by Million Mile Secrets. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
  • If you’re working to earn a credit card’s welcome bonus, paying fees can be well worth it (I paid three months of rent with my newest card, the World of Hyatt Credit Card, to help me meet the card’s spending. I incurred ~$150 in fees, but it was worth it to earn its bonus.)

Again, there exist landlords, real estate managers and banks that will sometimes process your payment with no fees. If this is the case for you, you’re flushing money down the toilet if you don’t use a credit card.

Pay rent with credit card via Radpad and other platforms

If your property management doesn’t have an online portal that allows you to pay with a credit card, let not your heart be troubled. There are third-party websites you can use to circumvent their incompetence.

The platforms with the lowest fees for paying rent are currently:

  • Radpad – 2.99% (accepts Amex, Discover, Mastercard and Visa)
  • Plastiq – 2.5% (accepts Amex, Discover, Mastercard, Visa, payroll cards and business prepaid cards)
  • PlacePay – 2.99% (accepts Amex, Discover, Mastercard and Visa)
  • Venmo – 3% (accepts Discover, Mastercard and Visa)

I know, the fees are no joke. The sites do come with various upsides, however. For example, through PlacePay you can split up your payments between roommates.

Note that PlacePay and Venmo are only useful if your landlord has registered with them. Plastiq and Radpad will just send a check to whoever you request. Also, Plastiq drops intermittent promotions that lower their fees even more. For example, we saw a limited-time rate of 1.5% in the middle of last year.

Pay mortgage with credit card

Mortgage payments are a tad trickier for two reasons:

  • Most online platforms don’t allow mortgage payments (Only Venmo and Plastiq from the above list offer you the opportunity to pay for your mortgage)
  • The platforms that allow you to use credit cards severely limit the credit cards you can use to pay your bill

This last point is important. For example, American Express and Visa cards will not work through Plastiq for mortgage payments. Also, there are whispers that U.S. Bank is tightening up their policy on using their cards for mortgages payments — noteworthy only because they issue Mastercard credit cards. This leaves you with significantly fewer opportunities to earn welcome bonuses, elite status, etc. via mortgage spending.

Still, there are many worthwhile Mastercard credit cards out there, such as:

  • CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® Mastercard®
  • Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard®
  • Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard®
  • IHG® Rewards Premier Credit Card
  • Citi® Double Cash Card

I repeat: You should only use a credit card to pay your mortgage if you can’t meet the card’s welcome bonus any other way. If you don’t need to incur a transaction fee, don’t do it!

The information for the Citi AAdvantage Platinum and CitiBusiness AAdvantage Platinum card has been collected independently by Million Mile Secrets. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Cautions for paying rent with a credit card

So you’ve done the math and decided it makes sense to put your rent or mortgage on your credit card. Now hear this.

The golden rule here is to never put ANY expense on a credit card unless you’ve got the means to pay it off before your bill is due. Carrying a balance on your cards will more than negate any rewards you earn with them.

Additionally, card issuers will occasionally code your transaction through these platforms as a cash advance. This is the worst possible scenario, because you’ll be charged an additional fee AND you won’t earn any rewards for your spending. You should be notified before you transaction is submitted if it will code as a cash advance, but it’s smart to contact your issuer and set your cash advance limit to zero on your card. That way it’s literally impossible this will happen to you — if your issuer tries to code it as a cash advance, the transaction will simply fail.

Also note that paying your rent with a credit card is not magically instantaneous with many third-party platforms. For example, if you pay with Plastiq, it’ll take days for your landlord to receive the check in the mail. You’ll need to trigger the payment well before your bill is due.

Bottom line

If you (like many of us in the miles and points game) have wondered, “Can I pay my rent or mortgage with a credit card?” the answer is absolutely yes — if you don’t mind paying fees. There are a handful of worthwhile platforms you can use to pay these bills, though some are a bit persnickety. We’ve outlined the rules you need to know before jumping in.

As long as you’re earning miles, points or cash back that are worth more than the fees you’re paying, using a credit card to pay your rent isn’t a bad idea. I only use this method when I need help meeting a minimum spending requirement to earn tens of thousands of points.

Let us know your favorite method to paying rent or mortgage with a credit card! And subscribe to our newsletter for more tips to earning more credit card rewards.

Joseph Hostetler is a full-time writer for Million Mile Secrets, covering miles and points tips and tricks, as well as helpful travel-related news and deals. He has also authored and edited for The Points Guy.

Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)

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