Accepting rent via credit or debit: Is it a smart move?

Laurie Mega
| 4 min. read
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How many people do you know use checks to pay for anything besides rent these days? Not many, right? Almost everything we pay for now, we do so through debit or credit cards because of the convenience factor.

So is it a good idea to rethink your rental payments? Can accepting rent on plastic make your residents lives easier? Can it make your life easier?

The Pros of Credit and Debit Card Payments

First, let’s look at the upside of accepting credit or debit card payments for rent.

Pro #1: No Checks to Cash or Bounce

Your problem with checks is most likely late or bounced ones. If a resident has a sudden emergency or miscalculates their account balance, you could be left with a check that doesn’t cash—or no check at all.

Allowing a credit card payment means the rent doesn’t depend on your renter’s account.

Pro #2: Speediness

You get your check on the first of the month, but then you have to take it to the bank and wait for it to clear.

You can, though, set up debit or credit card payments to deposit directly into your bank accounts through a platform like Buildium. You’ll get an email letting you know when the rent hits your account. Easy and fast!

Pro #3: Renters Will Love Earning Points—and Credit

Almost everyone has a credit card with some kind of rewards program—air miles, cash back, etc. Since rent is a higher-ticket item to put on their card, residents can earn a good chunk of change (or points, or miles) every month.

If your residents are trying to build credit, putting something like rent on every month and paying it off on time will help them out immensely.

Pro #4: Use Rent Collection Platforms

Allowing credit card payments opens you up to a whole new world of rent collection.  Software like Buildium allows residents to pay rent through a resident portal, either by credit card or via their bank account. They can even set up automatic payments, so they’ll never have to remember to pay on the first.

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The Cons of Credit and Debit Card Payments

There are all kinds of reasons to use credit and debit cards to collect rent, but there are some pitfalls, as well.

Con #1: Processing Fees

Credit card companies and processing platforms normally charge a nominal fee for every payment processed. Buildium via ePay, for example, charges 2.75 percent.

Con #2: Credit Cards Payment Disputes

Have you ever disputed a credit card payment? Your credit card puts a hold on the payment, investigates it and then determines if it should be paid or not. That takes time.

Residents could potentially dispute payments, as well. If they have any cause for complaint, however small or unrealistic, they could dispute their rent payment and keep it held up with their company.

Additional Points to Consider

You’ve weighed the options and decided accepting rent in this new way is right for you and your residents. There are still a couple of things to keep in mind as you get ready to make the switch:

  • Budget for payment disbursement from credit card companies. If rent is due on the first of the month, it may still take a day or two for some credit card companies to release the funds into your account.
  • Make sure your resident has good credit. If your resident has good credit, that means they pay their bills on time. Of course, you most likely ran a credit check before they moved in during your screening process, so you should know this already.

Residents use credit cards or automatic payments for nearly every other payment they make, from grocery shopping to phone bills. Accepting rent via credit card will integrate seamlessly into their already check-free lives.

And, honestly, when was the last time you paid for something with a check?

Allowing rent payments via credit card offers a whole new level of convenience for both you and your residents. Just make sure you do your due diligence before you start. It could just be the right move for your rental properties.

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Laurie Mega

Laurie Mega

Laurie Mega has planned, written, and edited content on a variety of subjects. Her work has been published by, The Economist, Philips Lifeline, and FamilyEducation, among others. She lives in the Greater Boston Area with her husband and two boys.

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