Best Credit Card For Paying Rent?

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Reader Vishal asked the following question on the “Ask Lucky” page of the blog:

I am moving into a new place which accepts credit cards (no extra fee). Hence, I expect to put in as much as $50K on credit card annually. Which card would be the best to put it on? I hold predominantly most credit cards recommended by you. Would appreciate your views.

I’m jealous of a place that accepts rent payment via credit card without a fee. The place I used to live had a flat fee for paying by credit card, so I’d simply pay rent for a few months at a time. That made the numbers work out in my favor.

Since presumably rent doesn’t fall under some sort of other “bonus” category, you’ll want to pick a card that maximizes your rewards on non-bonused spend. The other big question here is whether they accept American Express cards or not. In my experience most places that accept credit cards for rent limit you to Visa/MasterCard.

With that in mind, assuming they don’t accept American Express, here are the two cards I would be considering:

Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard®

Sign-up bonus: 40,000 miles after spending $3,000 within 90 days
Annual fee: $89, waived the first year
Earnings rates: Two miles per dollar spent, plus a 10% refund when you redeem miles. Each mile is worth one cent, meaning you’re basically earning 2.22% cash back towards the cost of travel

This is in my opinion the best cashback travel credit card out there, given that you’re essentially earning 2.22% cashback towards travel. You earn two miles per dollar (each mile being worth a cent), plus a 10% refund for your redemptions, for a total of 2.22% cashback.

You can redeem that cashback towards almost any travel purchase, including airlines, travel agencies & tour operators, hotels & resorts, cruise lines, trains, or car rentals.

This is especially valuable for someone mostly looking to redeem miles for domestic or international economy travel, since you can still earn miles and points for the purchases you get reimbursed with the card. Or even if you redeem your miles for premium cabin travel, it’s great for offsetting fuel surcharges.

Club Carlson Premier Rewards Visa Signature® Card

Sign-up bonus: 50,000 points after the first purchase, 35,000 additional points after spending $2,500 within 90 days
Annual fee: $75
Earnings rates: Five Gold Points per dollar spent (Ten Gold Points per dollar spent at Club Carlson properties)

One of the unique features of this card is that you get 40,000 points on your account anniversary each year, which arguably more than offsets the $75 annual fee. So while the annual fee on the above card is waived for the first year, it’s a card where it can still make sense to pay the fee year after year.

Club Carlson did announce an award chart devaluation a few months back, but even so I find that Gold Points are still worth roughly 0.4 cents each. Given that you earn five points per dollar, that’s the equivalent of roughly a 2% return.

But the greatest benefit of this card which must be factored in is that the second night of every award redemption is free, basically meaning you get “buy one get one free” award redemptions, assuming you stay in two night increments. If you don’t mind staying in hotels in two night increments you’re basically getting a return of 4%, which is tough to beat.

Meanwhile if they do accept American Express, here are two more cards I would be considering:

Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express

Sign-up bonus: 10,000 Starpoints after the first purchase, 15,000 additional Starpoints after spending $5,000 within six months
Annual fee: $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $65
Earnings rates: One Starpoint per dollar spent (two Starpoints per dollar spent at Starwood properties)

Starpoints are one of the most versatile points currencies out there, and can efficiently be redeemed for both hotel stays and airline mileage transfers.

Starpoints can be converted into airline miles in over two dozen programs at a 1:1 ratio, with a 5,000 point bonus for every 20,000 Starpoints transferred. That basically means you’re earning 1.25 airline miles per dollar spent. As a result I value Starpoints at about 2.2 cents each, which seems fair given how many amazing uses there are of them.

Amex EveryDay Preferred Credit Card

Sign-up bonus: 15,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $1,000 within three months
Annual fee: $95
Earnings rates: 1.5 Membership Rewards points per dollar spent

Unintentionally the Amex EveryDay Preferred Card may have cannibalized the American Express Premier Rewards Gold Card as the best card for earning Membership Rewards points. If you make at least 30 transactions on the card per month you earn 1.5 Membership Rewards points per dollar spent. And that doesn’t even account for the triple points on groceries and double points on gas (not that this is relevant when paying rent).

Bottom line

The above are some of the cards that I consider to offer a return of over 2% on everyday spend. Some offer that pretty concretely, like the Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard®, which offers you 2.22% towards travel. Others like the Club Carlson Premier Rewards Visa Signature® Card can offer a return of roughly 2%, or nearly double that if you maximize your redemptions.

Just my two cents…

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Comments

  1. what is the best service for those of us who can’t use a credit card to pay directly? thanks.

  2. Lucky,

    Can you make a list of the best credit cards to use to pay bills (utilities, cell phone, etc) and groceries.

  3. @ Lantean — I don’t know of any where it actually makes sense to do so. Williampaid.com is a popular one, but they charge a 2.95% fee. Maybe someone else can chime in.

  4. Isn’t there a tier bonus, status credit or elite status offer that makes an estimated $50K spend more worthwhile?

    This list is more of a best 1X spend card kind of list…

  5. My apartment building charges a fee for credit card payments, so I just cut them a check from Bluebird each month. I load my BB with fee-carrying gift cards, but percentage-wise, it’s still less than what the building would charge.

  6. Sorry Lucky, have to agree with a couple of people above. $50k spend @ 2.2c cashback would give you $1,100 ($1,540 with the signup). If Vishal were to get the AA Executive card, as an example, he would receive 150k miles ($50k spend plus 100k miles sign-up). You would need to value AA miles at about 1c a mile for the Arrival card to work out better value.

  7. @ Vik — Sorry, I probably should have clarified that. I think it goes without saying that if there’s a card on which he’s trying to reach minimum spend that’s the best option, but my assumption (which I shouldn’t have made) is that he’s not working towards minimum spend on any card.

  8. If the place does accept Amex, then the Fidelity Amex would be a pretty nice return. Straight 2% CB and no AF. Some would even argue it’s better than the Arrival Visa.

  9. He’s dreaming if he thinks there’s no fee. The landlord likely bumped up his rent by 2% to cover

  10. @ Ben — “I’m jealous of a place that accepts rent payment via credit card without a fee. ” Wait a minute, your landlord does accept credit cards without a fee! You live in hotels, remember? Ha!

  11. I would have thought that the PRG AMEX would have made the list for 45000 MR for $30,000 in spend or the United club card for 1.5 United miles or the other united card for 35000 miles for $25000 in spend. I would put all of these ahead of the Barclaycard, although I think that the Club Carlson card would still be at the top of my list, unless I was trying to get the PQD waiver for premier status on united

  12. My 92 year old aunt lives in a continuing care facility (independent living, assisted living, nursing home, etc.) that accepts credit cards for all monthly costs with no fee. She’s only earning 1% back with her Chase Freedom card, but that’s better than nothing (she can’t travel any more, and we need to keep things simple for her and her non-traveling son). Suggest readers with loved ones in similar facilities check their options – with close relatives, there might be some great opportunities to leverage $30,000-$50,000 or more in annual credit card spend into buco miles/points.

  13. @ Chris — Well the 10% refund is like 0.2%, and then when you get the refund and redeem those points again, you once again get a refund for 10% on that. So it’s really 2.22222222%. You get the point. 🙂

  14. My landlord lets me pay w/ pay pal. I buy the pay pal cash cards at drugstores using my old amex blue, which nets me 5% cb. I also pay for my roommate, so it’s a like a 10% discount monthly. Can’t complain 🙂

  15. Lucky:
    I think better plan is to purchase AMEX GC thru portal and use it to pay rent, if they accept AMEX. Barclay arrival portal is paying 4% plus get 2.2%, total of 6.2%. Lucky portal is paying 4% cash back and has code to waive purchase fees. If use 1% cash back card to purchase GC, get 5% back, or $2500 per year in cash! If select Premium shipping, shipping is free for first three months, then $99.

  16. Meant to add, could also use Visa GCs, if they accept, purchased with card that gives 5% cash back or 5X points at gas, grocery & drug stores.
    Get 5% without hassle of buying GCs online and waiting for cash back thru portal.

  17. Silly advice, but sure great opportunity for pimping lots of cards! Why not suggest a much easier method? Get a 5% card, buy gcs and Evolve payment? Of course, nobody gets affiliate income for that 5% card (thank goodness or our eyeballs would all be bleeding from the onslaught of posts extolling its virtues), so its never mentioned.

    Truly pathetic what passes for “expert” credit card, er, “travel” advice these days.

  18. @Paul, bitter/jealous much? Evolve doesn’t work for any payment you want to make, it has to be a service provider they have registered. The reader also mentioned that he already held many of the cards that Lucky reviews, so I’m sure Lucky just focused on those cards. I look forward to your next post with a link to your blog with all the anti-affiliate-income-generating-expert-advice. I’m sure it will be a welcome relief to the trolls.

  19. Lucky: Care to give some advice if only Visa is allowed? That’s my current situation. Annual rent payments total $40,300.

    Thanks!

  20. @ Murphy — With a Visa I’d ultimately be considering Club Carlson, Citi Hilton Reserve (depending on if you value Diamond status), or Chase Sapphire Preferred.

  21. Based on comment above is Amex Everyday Preferred a better choice than SPG or arrival for everyday spend? What about the Hilton Surpass if you are attempting to take advantage of AXON?

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