You might think of a credit card as a way to get valuable pointsmiles or cash back on the purchases you make. Then again, you may look at a card as a last resort for a necessary item or unexpected expense. One use you might not have considered is paying for recurring expenses that, like telemarketers and taxes, aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. Rent payments likely count among the monthly expenses you’ll want to stay abreast of, and if managed wisely, a credit card strategy to pay for shelter will offer benefits from a few different angles.

Can you pay rent with a credit card?

If you’re asking whether you can pay rent with a credit card, the answer is: it depends. Your landlord would have to be equipped to accept card payments, which means if you reside in a sprawling condo complex or an urban high-rise, ownership will almost certainly accept your Visa or Mastercard for rent. It’s a lot easier for large-scale operations to process hundreds of payments electronically than to mess with checks or greenbacks.

On the other side of the coin, if you live in the top half of a duplex with the owner keeping a watchful eye on things from their first-floor confines, you’re probably accustomed to paying rent with a personal check or cash. Small, family-owned rental operations usually do business fairly informally, and processing card payments isn’t worth the fuss or the fees. But, it never hurts to ask. In these times of Fintech phenomena, business owners of all shapes and sizes use mobile wallets and online means to get paid faster and more conveniently.

Does it make sense to pay rent with a credit card?

When asking whether it makes sense to pay rent with a credit card, the response will definitely revert back to sense — thatof the common variety. Haphazard use of a credit card could lead to financial problems, and since rent will likely be one of your highest expenses each month, carrying that balance forward is simply not smart. Interest accumulated over the extended time it takes to pay down that debt could put a considerable crimp in your cash flow.

However, you may be blessed with a healthy dose of budgetary brilliance. So, if your monthly living expenses plus all other purchases don’t exceed your take-home income, then making one card payment 12 times annually might be quite convenient. Also, you can set and forget rent payments, avoiding late fees and the mad dash to your landlord’s office before the doors lock at 5 p.m.

The benefits of using a credit card to pay rent are multi-faceted. Along with the plus of one less bill to babysit, using a rewards card to pay the monthly due will land you some pretty sweet deals. Consider a points or cash back card that offers an attractive welcome bonus. If you need to spend a minimum amount in the first 3 months of ownership to reach that bonus level, 3 months of rent will certainly help you get there.

Make sure you use the right credit card

Now that you’ve seen how using a credit card to pay rent isn’t such a bad idea, let’s fine-tune the approach. Some cards are going to play much better than others in the process. Use rewards cards and avoid cards with high annual fees unless you’re taking advantage of those perks and benefits to the fullest degree.

Use these:

Cash back card. Explore a credit card that gives you a cash-back reward each and every time you use it. If you get 2% cash back on $18,000 in rent paid over a year, that card will give you $360 that you may be able to redeem by check, direct deposit or gift card.

Travel rewards card. Many travel cards offer 2 points for every dollar on everyday purchases, and rent qualifies. If a pleasure cruise is on the near horizon, these 360 points could be worth more than $360 if you redeem the rewards and book the trip through an issuer’s proprietary travel portal.

Not these:

Low APR card. A card with a low rate clicks if you plan to carry a balance, but that’s not the road you should take for paying rent. Besides, low APR cards can be very skimpy on rewards, if offered at all.

Secured card. The potentially low limits on a secured card might not even allow room on the credit line to pay the monthly housing bill. Plus, you’ll likely also come up empty on rewards. If you’re using a secured card to build your credit, wait to use a credit card to pay rent until you can upgrade to an unsecured card.

How to pay rent with a credit card

Here’s a series of simple steps to get you on the road to paying rent with a credit card:

  1. Make sure your landlord accepts card payments. If not, maybe you could talk them into it.
  2. Evaluate the credit card you have, and make sure it fits the preferred mold.
  3. If your card doesn’t feature a rewards option, acquire a card with the glitziest program (and no annual fee if possible) you qualify for.
  4. Be sure your credit line exceeds the amount of your monthly rent.
  5. On the due date, proceed to the online portal or physical location where payments are processed.
  6. Enter your card number, expiration date, security code and any required personal information such as billing address or ZIP code.
  7. Secure a paper or electronic receipt for tax purposes.
  8. Watch those pointsmiles or cash-back incentives rack up.
  9. Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

Move on up

The takeaway from all this is you can definitely pay rent with a credit card under the right conditions. If you do and all goes swimmingly, additional benefits will eventually roll down the pike. Timely payments lead to excellent credit, and one day, you might be looking for some permanent digs. If that’s the case, feel free to apply the same methodologies to mortgage payments as you would to rentals.

Thom Tracy is a personal finance writer with 28 years of experience in the insurance, employee benefits and financial services industries. He lives near Scranton, PA and hopes to reach at least one of the Seven Summits.