When it comes to paying their monthly rent, most people don’t think twice about taking out their checkbooks and writing a check to their landlords. However, this tried-and-true monthly ritual is quickly going by the wayside. Statistics show that paper bank checks are the method of payment most susceptible to fraud, even as overall use continues to decline. In fact, over half of millennials don’t use paper checks at all.
Consumers are still using paper checks for larger transactions like monthly rent, despite the inconvenience and obvious security risks in doing so. However, there are companies that are trying to make paying rent easier and more convenient, as well as more secure. One such company is RadPad, a company that is designing an app that will allow renters to make their rental payments to their landlords using mobile payments. RadPad’s service doesn’t require the landlord to be on the service; instead it acts as a middle man – renters provide their debit or credit card information to RadPad, and RadPad sends a check to the landlord on the renter’s behalf. “Most landlords in the U.S. only accept check or cash rent payments,” said RadPad founder and CEO Jonathan Eppers. “And most people that are renting don’t even have a checkbook, or if they do, it’s only to pay the rent. So, we wanted to build something that enabled renters to very easily and quickly sign up and start making credit or debit card rent payments to landlords.”
Companies like RentShare and Plastiq work in similar ways to RadPad, with RentShare even having options to split costs for utilities, food and other common household expenses, making it ideal for those who share costs with roommates. But these payment alternatives all come with one thing – fees. RadPad charges a 2.99 percent fee when used with a credit card, but does not charge a fee if used with a debit card. RentShare also charges 2.99 percent for credit-based payments, and a $1.95 flat rate for debit. Plastiq does not currently accept debit cards, but it has a 2.5 percent fee for credit transactions, which makes it the most affordable of these rent check-writing alternatives.
If you plan to use a rental payment service such as those mentioned above, or if you want to use a credit card to pay your rent, below are a few things to keep in mind:
- You might get a better deal using a cash-back credit card. Some credit cards will give users unlimited 1.5 percent cash back on all purchases, which will offset the fees associated with rental payment services.
- Ask your landlord if he already offers payment through a property management service. If he does, it could actually be more affordable to go that route.
- Make sure you have sufficient credit. This seems like a no-brainer, but making sure you have enough open on your card is key. Plus, you don’t want to max out your cards, as that can hurt your credit score.
- Pay the credit bill each month. Interest rates charges can kill your budget, not to mention exponentially increase the actual cost of the rental payment. Make sure you at least pay the amount of your rent in full each month.
- Consider setting up recurring payments. Most landlords charge between 3-5 percent for late fees. Having your payment automatically paid each month on the same day will avoid this, and even help improve your credit score.
Rental payment services are much more convenient and far more secure than writing paper checks, especially more so now that they’ve gone mobile. Paying your monthly rent can be as easy as taking out your phone and making a few taps. Just be sure to check out any associated fees with these services and make sure the terms are acceptable to you.