UrbanR Review – Pay Rent by Credit Card
Here’s a question you probably haven’t pondered before paying rent–paper or plastic? Find out how you can pay your rent by credit card in our UrbanR review.
- Build/improve credit
- Option to split the fee
Most people pay just about every expense they have using a credit or debit card–so why not rent? UrbanR allows you to do just that. It’s not an arrangement for everyone, but it is certainly worth investigating if you’ve ever experienced difficulties or inconveniences with paying or receiving payment for rent.
About UrbanR Rent Payment
UrbanR is an online community centered on renting. It includes renters, owners and brokers, and improves the speed and convenience of rental payments. UrbanR does this by enabling tenants to make their rent payments using their credit card. They also offer what they claim are the lowest credit card fees in the U.S.
The company is based in New York City, and was founded in 2015. It started out as an online marketplace for New York City apartments, by offering free rental listings, online applications, and even credit reports.
The online rental marketplace continues to be available only in New York City, though there are plans to expand that service into other cities in the future. However. the company is offering their credit and debit card rent payments across the country.
UrbanR works in collaboration with Citibank to provide secure transaction processing, though all client funds are processed through a segregated co-mingled client account with J.P. Morgan Chase.
How UrbanR Works
In the next three sections, we’re going to focus on UrbanR’s pay rent by credit card function, since it’s the most relevant on a national level.
The service works to solve problems for both sides of the rental equation–the property owner and the tenant.
For the property owner, the ability to accept credit cards means they don’t have to rely entirely on payment by check. This not only speeds up the rent collection process, but it also avoids the problem of bounced checks. In effect, the landlord is receiving the rent payment electronically, rather than by paper.
The tenant gets the advantage of being able to make the rent payment by credit card. While this could be important during a time of tight finances, it can also provide certain benefits. For example, it could enable you to take advantage of rewards points, cash back and airline miles on a credit card. And if your landlord is in a remote location, it’s a way to get the rent payment in his or her hands before late fees kick-in.
To participate, both the landlord and tenant must sign up for the UrbanR service on the website.
The landlord signs up as the property owner. You enter the property address, the rent amount, the lease term, and the date the rent is due each month. You, as the property owner, also choose how the credit card fee will be paid, either 100% by you, 100% by the tenant, or a 50-50 split.
The tenant goes through a similar sign-up process. Both must also enter an email address and telephone number, then set up an account password. The renter also adds his or her credit or debit card information for payment purposes.
UrbanR Features and Benefits
UrbanR offers the following features and benefits:
Credit Cards Accepted
Once a renter makes a payment, the owner will receive the funds in 3 to 5 business days, deposited directly into their bank account.
You must make the entire rent payment using UrbanR. They do not allow partial payments, so you won’t be able to use the service to cover a rent shortfall. If you’re thinking you’ve only got $700 to pay your $1,000 rent, you won’t be able to make up the difference through UrbanR. It’s all-or-nothing.
However, UrbanR allows you to split your payments into as many as three different credit or debit cards for each rent payment. That may also serve as a workaround to the partial payment limitation. For example, if your rent is $1,000, but you only have $700 in your bank account, you can use your bank account debit card to pay $700, and charge the remaining $300 to a credit card.
Improve Your Credit
If you don’t have much credit, using UrbanR to pay your rent is a way to develop a strong credit score. Of course, that requires paying off your credit card balances promptly and always on time. Late payments on your credit cards and running up your card balance to high levels (due to the rent payments) can hurt your credit score.
Great for Small or Large Property Owners
There are no restrictions on either the size of the property (number of units in the building), or the number of properties owned. They even have corporate on-boarding capability for larger property owners.
Customer Service and Contact
Available by either email or toll-free phone, Monday through Friday, 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM, Eastern time.
UrbanR Pricing and Fees
UrbanR charges a 1.5% credit card fee for the pay rent service, which they claim is the lowest credit card fee in the country.
How is it the lowest in the country? Though they’re invisible to the credit card user, banks charge merchants credit card merchant fees to process payments. It’s the merchant’s side of the credit card fee arrangement, while the credit card user pays interest on the balance carried on the card. Credit card merchant fees typically range between 2.5% and 3.0% of the transaction amount, but they can be even higher. This is why the 1.5% fee charged by UrbanR is so low.
There are three different payment arrangements for the fee:
- Renter pays the full fee
- Owner pays the full fee
- Both parties split the fee at 0.75% each–they refer to this as the “Go Dutch” option
The renter may offer to pay the entire fee as a way to persuade the landlord into accepting the UrbanR credit card rent payment. By contrast, the owner may offer to pay the fee to induce the renter to participate, perhaps because of problems with accepting checks in the past.
And of course, if the fee becomes an obstacle to either party, it may be well worth it to simply “split the difference” and move forward. After all, a 0.75% monthly fee is a very small amount to pay for the many advantages that the UrbanR pay rent by credit card service provides.
The final decision on which of the three fee payment methods will be used is determined by the owner, not the renter.
The UrbanR Rental Marketplace
This is UrbanR’s original business. It focuses on the New York City rental market, and currently offers more than 6,000 rental units at all price levels across the city.
If you’ve ever searched for a home on a site like Realtor.com, you’ll understand the basic concept of the UrbanR New York City rental marketplace. The platform enables you to filter your search by monthly rent range, and even whether or not you are willing to pay a rental fee.
Once you narrow your search, it will provide you with a list of apartments within your specified parameters. You can click on any of the listings, and it will provide full property information, including address, contact information, room count, floor level, required security deposit, and whether or not pets are accepted. It will also list various amenities, including storage, washer and dryer (or laundry room availability), fitness center, lobby attendant, rooftop deck, and building security.
Many listings will also include a generous photo display. This will show interior photos, the unit floor plan, views (if any), as well as outdoor and street scenes. It will be like taking a tour of the apartment, the building and the neighborhood, except that it’s done entirely online.
There is no fee indicated for the use of the service, though there may be fees payable to a third party real estate company or apartment finding service.
UrbanR Pros and Cons
- Renters can use UrbanR to make immediate rent payments, avoiding late fees.
- Owners can receive rent more quickly than by check, and avoid the possibility of the check bouncing.
- If your credit card provides cash back that exceeds the UrbanR fee, you can actually come out ahead on the exchange. For example, if you get 1% cash back on your credit card, and you pay the Go Dutch rate of 0.75% on your rent payment, you’ll pick up an extra 0.25% cash back above the rent fee.
- As a renter with very little credit, you may be able to use UrbanR to help you build or improve your credit rating.
- Since you can make your rent payments on as many as three credit and debit cards, UrbanR offers a way for you to match your bank balance and credit card limits in a way that works best for you.
- Pay rent by credit card is definitely not for people who carry credit card balances. You could max out your credit card with just a few months of charged rent payments.
- You’ll be slightly increasing the amount of your monthly rent–or decreasing your collections if you’re an owner–by the amount of the UrbanR fee.
- Good only for Visa, Discover and MasterCard; UrbanR doesn’t accept American Express.
- Partial rent payments aren’t allowed (but you can work around this through a split payment).
Should You Try UrbanR?
The pay rent by credit card feature has obvious benefits for a landlord. It provides an opportunity to get immediate rent payments, and to avoid bounced checks.
For a renter, fast payments can help avoid late fees. It can also be a way to build or improve your credit. At the same time, it’s extremely important for a renter to realize that UrbanR is primarily about payment convenience. It should not be seen or used as an extension of the paycheck.
If you use the service to pay your rent on a regular basis, but don’t pay off the balance each month, you could run a very large credit card balance. Once your credit limits are exhausted, you’ll need to come up with your full monthly rent payment out of your bank account each month, but you’ll also have a large monthly credit card payment to go with it. For that reason, the service needs to be used in a highly responsible manner.
We can’t comment on the value of the UrbanR rental marketplace, since it’s limited to New York City. As well, New York City is a unique rental market. The rental marketplace service may be worthy of a deeper review at some time in the future, when it expands to other rental markets around the country. For now, it’s a geographically limited service.
If you’d like more information, or if you’d like to try the service, visit the UrbanR website.