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Should You Pay Rent by Credit Card or Check?

How to Decide Which Option Works Best for You

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Germany, Bavaria, Munich, Young woman shopping online from home with laptop and credit card
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As more and more landlords have been setting up websites to showcase their properties, many of them are offering tenants the option of paying their rent by credit card. By giving tenants more options to pay the rent, landlords up the chances of getting paid on time. Plus, these landlords hope that tenants will appreciate their efforts to add a convenience, and that this will translate into improved landlord-tenant relations.

At first blush, having the option to pay rent by credit card does appear to be a big convenience. However, it's not the right choice for everyone.

Here are reasons why you should pay your rent with a credit card versus a check:

Why Pay With a Credit Card?

There are good reasons for paying the rent by credit card. Here's why you should consider doing this:

  • You can build credit or strengthen your credit rating. If you have no credit or little credit, adding your rent as a monthly credit card charge is a great way to build your credit score. As long as you have been able to afford to pay the rent with a check, then you can afford to pay the rent by credit card. If you already have good credit, adding the rent to your credit card payments will help keep your rating strong.

  • You can earn miles or points in a rewards program. Many credit cards offer rewards programs in which you may become eligible for free flights, hotel stays, or merchandise once you've purchased and paid for a certain amount. If you're enrolled in such a program, then adding the rent to your credit card each month can help you achieve these rewards milestones.

  • Lower the chances of a late fee. Even responsible tenants who normally pay their bills on time might encounter a busy spell where they forget to send the rent check until the last minute. If this happens, you risk that your landlord will charge a late fee under the lease. If you can pay by credit card, you don't have to first mail a check, which could take a few days to arrive at the landlord's or manager's office.

Why Pay With a Check?

While paying by credit card has its advantages, it's not the best option for everyone. Here are some reasons why you might prefer to pay your rent by check:

  • You have credit problems and don't want your rent caught up in it. If you have problems with credit card debt and have been paying your rent with checks, it's probably best to stick to it. If you carry a balance on your credit card each month, you'll face the temptation to have part of your rent carry over as well. The interest you'll owe on this amount plus the effect this practice will have on your credit score are strong reasons why it's probably not worth the switch.

  • You contribute toward the rent with other roommates. If there are a few of you in the rental and you want to pay the rent by credit card, you'll probably need to pay with one card. This means that only one tenant can take advantage of this option while the other roommates will need to write checks to contribute their amount to the tenant whose card gets charged. Roommates might not agree on whose card should be charged, or they might just decide it's easier to continue paying by check.

  • You're just not comfortable making the switch. Everyone's finances are different, and your comfort level when it comes to making financial decisions is also an important consideration. You may have your own reason why you like writing checks. For instance, perhaps you write the rent check from different accounts each month, depending on where you have enough money. If you like the system you have and it works, then you shouldn't feel compelled to switch.
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