If you’re a credit card enthusiast who loves to collect points, then parting with your monthly rent payment and receiving little more than a receipt can be frustrating. That’s particularly true when your rewards card offers two or more points per dollar spent—after all, over the course of a year, a $1,200 rent payment can quickly equate to 28,800 points.
Wouldn’t it be great if there was some way you could convert that big monthly line item into points?
Urbanr Rent Payment Services makes that possible. The new company aims to provide a solution to rent payment woes by making it possible for residents to pay rent with a credit card, and for those who are privy to point collection, Urbanr payments can make it possible to score big on one of life’s largest reoccurring expenses.
Pay Rent With a Credit Card Through Urbanr
Urbanr’s mission is to offer a “better payment option for both renters and owners” by taking a financial transaction that is typically cash-, money order-, or check-based and updating it to one that can accommodate debit or credit cards (Visa, Mastercard, and Discover).
Though the company isn’t the first one to make a name for themselves in this particular payment niche, they are creating a lot of buzz, and that’s largely because of their exceedingly low processing fee. At 1.5 percent, Urbanr’s processing fee is almost 40 percent lower than some of their main competitors, who typically come in around 2.5 percent to 4 percent.
In addition to offering the lowest fee when compared to competitors, Urbanr also has a flexible fee model. Fees can be paid by the renter, the landlord, or split between the two. For renters that means the fee can potentially be as low as .75 percent, or no fee if the owner is kind enough to absorb the entire fee.
Aside from the flexible low-fee structure, here are a few other things to keep in mind if you’re considering using Urbanr to pay your rent:
- Both the renter and the owner must sign up for an Urbanr account.
- Rent is processed and transmitted to the owner or property manager’s bank account within three to five business days.
- Payment can be split between three different credit cards for a single transaction.
Urbanr vs. Plastiq
As mentioned above, Urbanr isn’t the first company to try to bridge the gap between credit cards and rent payments. Plastiq, their primary competitor, has been around for quite some time and allows users to pay a variety of bills (legal, auto payments, insurance, etc.) using a credit card, among other forms of payment.
While the general premise is similar to Urbanr, Plastiq’s fee is a full point higher, with each rent transaction incurring a 2.5 percent fee. Additionally, while Urbanr offers three fee payment structures (renter, owner, or split), Plastiq does not.
For many, these two differences can be significant, and in some cases depending on your rewards program, can negate any benefit received once fees are factored in.
When Paying Rent with a Credit Card Makes Sense
Urbanr is a great way to earn extra credit card points on your rent payment, and as pointed out on the Urbanr website, those who receive two points or miles per dollar spent can easily end up with 0.5 percent to 2 percent ahead by paying rent with their credit card.
Assuming the point values are worth it, cardholders who regularly have a zero balance and can quickly pay off the rent balance may find that this method of payment is not only convenient, but that it can have positive benefits that outweigh the associated fee. In other words, your points and rewards can really rack up.
When Paying Rent with a Credit Card Is a Bad Idea
While Urbanr may be a great way to earn credit card points, it’s not a good idea for every renter. That’s particularly true for those who are already carrying a credit card balance or racking up fees in other ways.
As a general rule, if you plan on paying your rent through Urbanr, you should have the cash on hand so you can make a credit card bill payment before the end of the billing cycle. If that’s not possible, the debt that’s carried over from one billing cycle to the next will incur interest, negating any savings you may have gained.
Additionally, since you will be paying a fee, minimal though it may be, if your goal is to rack up credit card points, make sure that your rewards program is competitive enough to counteract the 1.5 percent fee, otherwise, again, you’ll be in red when all is said and done.
If you want to pay rent with a credit card that offers a competitive rewards program, and if you can pay the balance immediately or before the next billing cycle, then Urbanr can represent an excellent way to maximize the number of credit card points you earn, allowing you to cash in on what is typically one of your largest monthly bills.
Of course, if you are currently carrying a balance or if your rewards program doesn’t negate the 1.5 percent fee, then Urbanr may not be for you. Additionally, it’s also worth noting that some credit card companies may treat the transaction differently (e.g., as a cash advance), so it’s best to contact your credit card company before diving into the Urbanr experience. In the end, it all comes down to the relationship between your rewards, merchant fees, and credit card interest rates.
Author: Jeff Gitlen
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