Using Your Credit Card to Cover Housing Expenses Key Takeaways Paying large monthly bills like rent, mortgage, and utilities with a credit card has some benefits but also risks. Understand the fees and financial tradeoffs involved. Landlords and lenders rarely accept direct credit card housing payments due to 2-4% processing costs. But peer-to-peer payment apps may be an option for rent. Utility companies generally accept credit cards but pass on the ~3% fees. Set up autopay to avoid late charges. HELOCs function like credit cards for flexible mortgage payments over time, with tax-deductible interest. But they require home equity and have their costs. Rewards credit cards can provide short-term flexibility on smaller, irregular housing expenses. Just commit to paying off balances monthly.
Credit – It’s the American way, right? Interest rates are still high, but the Fed has signaled that they may be cutting rates as soon as Q2 of 2024. If you can pay your bills using cash, it’s obviously best to do so, but if not, then leveraging credit may be an alternative as well.
Your biggest cost is going to be your housing expenses. When it comes to paying major monthly housing costs like rent, mortgage, utilities, and more, using a credit card may seem appealing.
Credit cards offer rewards, buyer protection, and the ability to spread payments over time. However, there are also risks, fees, and downsides to understand before whipping out the plastic.
Let’s explore the potential benefits, drawbacks, fees, and alternatives.
Paying Rent With a Credit Card
Paying rent via credit card lets you earn rewards points on a large, recurring payment. It also allows you to defer payment by a few weeks until your card’s billing cycle closes. However, not all landlords or property management companies accept credit cards due to the high processing fees, which usually run about 2-3%.
If your landlord does take credit card payments, expect to pay this convenience fee. You’ll also want to set up autopay so you never miss a payment and damage your credit. That being said, many landlords don’t report monthly rent to the credit bureaus, oddly enough.
An alternative is using a peer-to-peer payment app like Venmo if your landlord accepts it. This links directly to your checking account, so no debt or fees are incurred.
Can You Pay the Mortgage With a Credit Card?
Very few lenders accept direct credit card payments for ongoing monthly bills. The processing costs of 2-3% are prohibitively high. Mortgage payments also tend to exceed most credit cards’ monthly maximum spending limits.
However, for initial home down payments of up to $5,000-$10,000, using a credit card can earn a nice lump of rewards points. Just be aware that these big purchases can negatively impact your credit utilization ratio in the short term.
To earn ongoing rewards on mortgage interest over time with more flexibility, consider getting a home equity line of credit (HELOC for short). Almost every
mortgage lender offers this product. Paying Utility Bills With Credit Cards
Many electricity, gas, water, sewer, trash pickup, and cable/internet service providers accept credit card payments. The convenience fees range from 2-4% of the transaction amount. With very large monthly bills, these fees can add up.
An advantage of using credit cards for utilities is consolidating all these varied expenses onto one or two monthly bill statements. This simplifies record-keeping and makes it easier to budget recurring household expenses each month.
The above image shows the living expenses Americans are using credit cards for.
Be sure to set up autopay through the credit card to avoid late fees or service disruption. Rewards cards aimed at households like the Citi Custom Cash Card or Wells Fargo Reflect Card offer strong rewards earnings rates on these categories.
Credit Card Rewards vs HELOC for Housing Costs
The best way to pay down an ongoing mortgage using credit is through a home equity line of credit or HELOC. This functions like a credit card linked directly to your home’s equity, rather than a traditional bank credit line.
HELOCs let homeowners withdraw cash at any time to pay housing bills and expenses. This avoids credit card interest rates but provides access to fast financing as needed. As you pay down the HELOC balance over months or years, the fees incurred are tax-deductible since the capital is mortgage-related.
That said, there are fees associated with the option as well. Opening a HELOC requires paying origination fees upfront and getting a home appraisal. Maintaining it also means paying insurance premiums, yearly account fees, and more mortgage interest over decades.
For short-term flexibility or smaller housing expenses, rewards credit cards still offer superior value. Just focus on paying the balance off each month and avoiding debt cycles long-term.
Key Takeaways: Paying Housing Bills With Credit Cards
The bottom line is, that credit cards allow households to spread unpredictable housing payments over time. However, their higher interest rates make them expensive long-term debt vehicles. Clear conditions and limitations apply when using plastic for ongoing mortgage interest, rent, and utilities.