For most of us, rent is our largest monthly expense.
It’s also one of the last places where most people still hunt down a paper checkbook; according to The Boston Fed’s research, only 16% of US renters pay their rent online. That’s because many of the 20mm landlords in the US haven’t taken the trouble to set up electronic payment methods for their residents.
Fortunately, there are several ways to quickly and securely pay rent online, even if your landlord hasn’t set up dedicated software.
There are distinct advantages to being able to pay rent online or from your smartphone, namely the convenience of not dealing with envelopes, stamps, and paper checks and having a digital record of your rent-payment history to share when you’re looking for your next place.
These days, there are benefits you might not know about. Several companies offer protection against late fees, let you earn rewards for paying rent, and in some cases, even give cashback on your rent. Here are the best apps to pay rent online:
Best Places to Pay Your Rent Online
Findigs is a new app (available for IOS and Android), but their intuitive app interface and offerings make them our number 1 choice. It’s simple to use: download the mobile app, link your bank account, enter the details of your rent payment and automatically print and mail a check for you on your desired date. The check your landlord receives will have your account and routing number on it, so unlike other services, funds won’t be withdrawn from your account until your landlord deposits the check.
The app is free to use (though you can leave an optional tip to support the community). It tracks when your check is mailed and when your landlord cashes it. There are three reasons Findigs is number 1.
- It’s the only app that gives you rewards for on-time rent payments. Per the company, many of their rewards partners are still coming online. Still, after three successful payments, you’ll earn enough points for a $5 Starbucks or Instacart gift card (not bad considering they’re rewarding you for not having to mail your check!).
- Secondly, they offer industry-best protection against late fees. If you schedule a check for more than 5-days before your due date and for whatever reason (postal service isn’t perfect as we know), it doesn’t arrive on time; they will overnight another check to your landlord at no cost to you, and cover any late fees you incur (up to $200).
- Lastly, for each friend you refer that makes a payment through the app, you get a $5 cash rebate on your next month’s rent!
Pros: Easy-to-use app, unique rewards program, the auto-pay feature allows you to “set it and forget it,” pay what you want (even $0), offers protection against lost/delayed checks.
Cons: Currently, rent splitting for roommates is only supported if your landlord also signs up for Findigs. Right now, payment options are limited to bank linking/ ACH.
Plastiq has been around since 2012, and similar to Findigs, they will handle getting your landlord a check. The big difference is that Plastiq is intended to let you pay rent and other bills with a credit card, for a 2.5% fee. To use Plastiq, enter the details of your rent payment on their website (they don’t offer a mobile app) and your credit card details.
Their 2.5% fee is lower than other services that let you pay with a credit card (~3%), but it still adds up quickly, so you’ll want to carefully understand the value of the points you’re getting in return. It is an excellent option if you are trying to meet a credit card signup spending bonus, are in a pinch, or have a big trip coming up that you need a few extra points/miles to make happen.
Note, though, they instruct users to allow eight business days and don’t publicize any form of protection in the event something happens, or it takes longer than that, so you have to be proactive.
If you find yourself chasing roommates to Venmo you for rent, RadPad is a reliable option. Through their website or mobile app, you can invite roommates to your group, pay your share of rent with a debit or credit card, and they will mail a check for you.
The service costs $4.95 for each debit card payment and 2.99% for credit cards (their website mentions free ACH payments, but we couldn’t find that option in their payment flow). Like Findigs, they offer a Rent Guarantee if your check gets delayed or lost – but only up to $50 in late fee reimbursement, and you may only file one claim every six months.
4 Your Bank’s Bill Pay
If you’re uncomfortable using a (relatively) new service to pay rent, most major banks will mail a check to your landlord for you through their online bill pay service. You’ll typically spend a few more minutes setting it up (and often, bank bill pay isn’t optimized for mobile), but if you are setting a recurring payment, it’s not too big a deal.
Banks tend to ask for more lead time when mailing a check on your behalf (some are up to 10 business days, so be sure to consult your bank/their FAQ), and don’t offer any form of late fee reimbursement in the event something goes bump with the postal carrier.
In 2020, there’s very little reason for us to be sending our own paper checks, especially for an expense as regular and predictable as rent. Bank of America estimates that between materials, postage, and most importantly, time, the true cost of sending a paper check is between $4 and $20. If you’re one of the millions of Americans doing this every month for your rent payment, giving one of the above services a try is a no-brainer.
For those of you that prefer keeping as few apps as possible, your bank’s app and bill pay feature are probably already on your phone. That said, since it hasn’t been designed explicitly for rent payments, you’ll be leaving some functionality and benefits on the table.
In comparison, we love how easy the Findigs app is to navigate and the rent-specific perks. While postal service errors are infrequent these days, they do happen. And any single mistake can be very costly, depending on the late fees stated in your lease.
Landlords tend to be unsympathetic to the excuse, “it must have gotten lost in the mail,” so having Findigs’ On-Time Guarantee is a relief. Plus, we aren’t aware of any other company that lets you earn rewards and cashback on your rent for free.
We talk about referral programs regularly here, as they can be a great avenue to earn for introducing friends to apps/services you’re already using. Especially if you live in a multiple unit building, you can start to rack up some serious cashback on rent with a few texts to your neighbors to introduce them to Findigs.
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