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Being able to pay rent online is certainly convenient. Instead of mailing a paper check each month, renters can set up automatic recurring payments and call it a day. From 2020 to 2021, applications for online rent payment services from landlords and property managers increased by nearly 20%, according to property management platform Rentec Direct.
Whether you're opting into an existing rent payment system or running the idea by your landlord, here's how to pay rent online.
1. Ask Your Landlord Whether They Accept Online Payments
The first step to paying rent online is to find out if it's even an option. Whether you rent from a property management company or a private landlord, ask if they currently accept online payments. If not, consider sharing the following benefits with them.
- Receiving rent payments online is simple and can reduce late payments when renters enroll in autopay.
- It eliminates the hassle of running to the bank and cashing paper checks every month.
- They should receive funds in their bank account relatively quickly.
2. Set Up a Rent Payment System
There are a couple of different ways to pay rent online. If your landlord is already accepting digital payments, they may have a preferred system. Some popular rent payment options include:
- Digital payment services: Apps like Venmo and PayPal are one way to pay rent online. While free for tenants, both tack on transaction fees for landlords—around 2% per transaction for Venmo and about 3% for Paypal. Zelle is a free option, assuming it's supported by both the tenant and landlord's banks. However, some banks may impose transfer limits or charge other fees.
- Online rent collection platforms: Some landlords prefer to use rent payment services. Avail and Rentec Direct are popular options. They're free for renters who pay by electronic check or ACH transfer. Avail even lets you split your rent among multiple tenants in the same home, which can come in handy if you have roommates.
3. Decide How You'll Pay Rent Each Month
Some tenants may prefer to use a rewards credit card. (If you're paying rent every month, why not earn points, airline miles or cash back?) Renters who go this route might want to pay their balance in full every billing cycle to avoid high interest rates. It's also worth noting that some rent payment services charge a fee to renters who pay by credit card.
If you're in the process of paying down debt and prefer not to use a credit card, you could use your checking or savings account to make your rent payments. Either way, factor your rent payments into your monthly budget. One rule of thumb is to keep your housing payment at or below 28% of your gross monthly income. Before signing a new lease, run the numbers to make sure you can comfortably afford the rent.
4. Avoid Late Fees
One of the perks of paying rent online is that you may be able to set up automatic payments and avoid late fees. The standard late fee for rent is up to 5%, according to Apartments.com. If your rent is $1,300, that means your late fee could be as high as $65.
Having a history of late payments might also make it harder to rent another home in the future if you're asked to list your current landlord as a reference. Paying your rent on time is best for your financial health. If money feels tight, revisit your budget to see if you can reduce any expenses or increase your income.
5. Build Credit Through Your Rent Payments
Adding positive rent payments to your credit file is an easy way to increase your credit score. With Experian Boost®ø, simply connect the credit cards or bank accounts you use to pay regular bills like rent, streaming services and utilities. The platform will then scan your payment data for eligible payments.
If your rent exceeds the qualifying amount and is made online to an eligible landlord or property manager, those payments can be added to your Experian credit file. It's a hands-off way to get credit for paying your rent, which is likely your largest monthly bill.
The Bottom Line
If you're wondering how to pay rent online, you've got some options. Rent collection platforms and digital payment services have simplified the process, making life easier for both tenants and landlords. When you pay online and automate your payments, you all but eliminate the chance of missing rent.
Experian Boost takes it a step further and uses positive rental payments to potentially increase your FICO® Score☉ . Consider it an easy way to improve your financial well-being.