New Service Lets You Pay Rent by Credit Card for 1.5% Fee

Urbanr lets you pay rent by credit card. They charge the tenant’s card, and the landord receives payment electronically in 3-5 business days.

The advantage is they charge 1.5% for the service, compared to 2.5% with Plastiq. The downside is that both the renter and owner have to sign up (it doesn’t take much time). The property owner decides whether the renter pays the full 1.5% fee, whether they split the fee, or whether to absorb it — after all tenants who pay by credit card have another way to pay (and not be late) and don’t bounce checks.

  • A renter can initiate the process on the site, and the owner or property manager gets invited. Or the property manager can set up an account. If you sign your landlord up and provide their phone number, Urbanr will follow up by phone to get them set up if they don’t join in response to the invite.

  • They only process rent payments (though you can add utilities to your rent if you pay those to a landlord)

  • They accept US-issued Visa, Mastercard, and Discover. They do not take American Express. They allow split tender payments (up to 3 cards per transaction).

One thing I’ve seen with Plastiq is that sometimes they’ll ask for additional documentation on a transaction to make sure payments are being made to a bona fide business for real services. I asked the CEO of Urbanr about this, you don’t want rent payment delivery delayed. And he told me that “Payments under $5,000 tend to pass without issue. We’ve seen instances with higher amounts where the bank sometimes requires additional documentation, like the signed lease.”

We’ve seen some rent payment offers come and go, introductory teaser prices that don’t last, but Urbanr says that their “1.5% fee is a sustainable long-term price.”

Naturally being the maximizer that I am I asked about a signup bonus or referral program, since they didn’t already have one, and here’s what they came up with (note, there is no benefit for me from this).

We do not have a formal referral program in place, but I am happy to give your readers an exclusive. We’ll give $10 for each new owner who signs up before May 1st. Users can email the list of their referred landlords to Info@urbanr.com with the codeword: ViewFromtheWing. We’ll submit the $10 reward once an initial payment of $1,000 or more processes for each owner.

So you’re going to get $10 back when you pay $1000 or more to a new landlord, and if you sign up other landlords who take rent payments through them that’s $10 apiece.

And at 1.5% you’ve got a worthwhile margin even with a 2% cash back card though you can do better than that.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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Comments

  1. Interesting but won’t last. Not possible to have sustainable 1.5% price as premium V/MC cards (all that churners use) are 2%+ in cost at best. eg: The CSR hits at 2.40% for any e-commerce merchant – no way around it. Like Radpad and others – the promotion seems interesting but then puts them out of business.

  2. I made a landlord account and a tenant account. Trying to “approve” tenant payment, there’s a big “approve” button which doesn’t work.

  3. @Susan, our industry low fees stem from our collaboration with CitiBank in a joint effort to plasticise the rental market. The 1.5% is a sustainable price negotiated specifically for recurring monthly rent payments. This is not an early bird promotion, nor do we lose money on these transactions. Hope this is helpful – Irad Straus, CEO Urbanr.

  4. I sincerely wonder how long some of these “new” companies will stay around. Plastiq has been around for almost 10 years now. Also, I wouldn’t pay until you absolutely have to. If you’ve never used these services before, you are typically eligible for credits at most of these places. My referral code of 656912 gets you $500 fee free dollars if you’ve never used Plastiq before. They do ask to see my renter’s agreement the first time but for student loans stuff it’s pretty straightforward.

  5. For the referral bonus, what if your payments are below $1000 individually? Say, $800 per month, so over a thousand dollars cumulative in month two. The language is “initial payment” so it would seem to exclude providing a bonus in this case which is unfortunate.

  6. I just got a letter from ‘Irad Straus’ saying that they are “temporarily withdrawing payment processing to enhance client identity and property verification procedures.”

    Well, that was fun while it lasted. Oh wait, never even got one payment out through them. Oh well.

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