Most of you can just skip right over this post since you don’t pay rent or live at an apartment that allows paying with a credit card. But if you’re in the lucky situation that I am, paying your rent with a credit card can be an easy way to get credit card points.
Before we continue, I should not that you should not get involved with credit cards if you are not responsible with money. You should treat credit cards like a debit card and only spend money you have. I am not a lawyer or personal finance expert and while this post represents my experiences, you should take them with a grain of salt and do your own research before trying this.
So, with those disclaimers out of the way, lets get to the good part: getting rewards. When you want to pay your rent/utilities at an IMT apartment complex, you have a few options.
- You can take cash to the office.
- You can take a money order or check to the office.
- You can take a money order or check to the kiosk.
- You can pay with a debit or credit card at the kiosk.
- You can pay with a debit or credit card online.
I’m not going to talk about paying with cash, check, or money order. Those aren’t really an efficient method for earning points, but if you need to, it exists. The two good ways to earn points are either by paying by credit card (either online or at the kiosk) or by paying with a debit card at the kiosk.
Paying with a Credit Card
The easiest way to get points is by paying with a credit card online or at the kiosk. At IMT apartments, there is a flat $25 fee for paying with your credit card no matter how much you pay. So paying $5 of your bill will cost $25 and paying $3000 of your bill will cost $25. Obviously this isn’t a good deal for small payments but can be great for large payments.
Lets say your rent is $2600 a month like mine is in Denver for a two and half bedroom. If you paid your rent with a credit card you would pay $2625 after the fee and would earn 2625 points with most credit cards. So let’s calculate how much each of those points cost you, or the cpp (cents per point), which is the fee converted from dollars to cents, divided by the points.
cpp = 25 * 100 / 2625 = 0.95
So in this case, I would pay 0.95 cents for every point I earned. Every program has a different value for points. Many cash back programs value the points at 1 cpp. Obviously, if that’s the case, you aren’t making very much money here. But some airline and hotel points can be worth over 2 cpp. That would mean that you are effectively purchasing travel at half off. And even better, I have occasionally gotten as much as 8cpp on a redemption. So it’s like I’m getting an 88% discount on travel by “buying” the points this way.
But it gets better. Some cards are a flat 2% or 3% cashback card (like the Citi doublecash or the Alliant CU credit card). If you payed your bill with these cards, you would pay a $25 fee but would get $52 in cash back. That’s a profit of $27 for paying your bill – which you were hopefully going to do anyway ($54 profit for 3% card). Personally, I like to sometimes pay with my Chase Freedom Unlimited card which earns 1.5 UR points per dollar spent. Then, I can transfer those points to airlines like Southwest and United or hotels like Hyatt. I often get 2cpp out of a UR point so this is a return of 3% on a card I already have.
But it gets even better than that!! You can pay up to three months of your bill at once. So you can pay a $25 fee and put $7825 on the card for a cpp of 0.32. That’s a great deal no matter how you look at it. With a 2% cashback card that would be a profit of $131. Makes that huge rent seem just a little more manageable. If you rent is less, then you’ll obviously make less “profit” but it can still be useful anyway.
But it gets even better again!!! Another good aspect of this is that you have a big bill that you can pay with a credit card every month. That can be very useful if you are into signing up for lots of credit cards. (I’m not going to cover signing up for credit cards or churning here but you can find more info with google.) Whenever you sign up for a credit card, you have to hit a minimum spend requirement in order to get the bonus points. This can be annoying if you don’t spend much or if you have cards you already like to do. I already have a dining card, a travel card, and a grocery card which cover most of my expenses so being able to hit a minimum spend requirement can be tough. But, I can just use that card to pay 1-2 months of rent and I’m done. In this case, a $25 fee can get me 50,000-100,000 points worth between $500 and $2000 dollars. This is truly the best return, especially without leaving your apartment.
Paying with a Debit Card
I first want to point out that if you pay with a debit card online, you have to pay the same $25 fee as with credit cards, but if you pay at the kiosk it is free. I believe this is because debit cards are charge different fees depending if the card is present or not, but I don’t know for sure.
So paying with a debit card at the kiosk can be very useful. Now, at first this might not be obvious since debit cards don’t usually give rewards points and the ones that do have lots of restrictions. BUT, prepaid visa or mastercard gift cards that have a PIN are treated as debit cards. This is important because lots of places sell prepaid debit cards for a fee of about 1%, which isn’t that different from just paying with a credit card. But this can be useful if you only need to top up your account a little bit (to cover higher utilities or because you made a mistake when typing in the amount).
You just go to one of the places that sell gift cards like the supermarket, walmart, cvs, walgreens, or a gas station. Buy the gift card with a good credit card. Come back and swipe at the kiosk. The PIN is either in the package or the last four of the card number.
It can also be useful if you don’t have enough cash to front 3 months of rent but want to get more rewards for paying one month at a time. If you buy the gift card from someplace where you earn bonus points, it can really help lower the cpp. For instance, if only paying one month at a time (because of reasons) the cpp with the Freedom Unlimited mentioned above is 0.64cpp and you would earn 3,900 points. But if you bought gift cards at a grocery store where you earned 5x points per dollar spent, your cpp could be as low as 0.24cpp and you would earn over 12,000 points. You’ll pay less per point earned and earn more of them all at once with this method. If you don’t have a 5x grocery card, another good card might be the Ink business card from Chase that earns 5x points at office stores. You could buy $300 visa gift cards for a fee of $8.95 each which would lower the cost to 0.58cpp with over 12,000 points at once. Both of these are better options than the standard paying with a credit card and give you more points at once.
Don’t go discussing this with the office workers at the apartment. When you find something beneficial like this, it’s best to just lay low and enjoy it without bringing a ton of attention to it. I realize it’s kind of hypocritical to say that on a blog but I think few enough people read this that it won’t draw too much attention. Plus, I couldn’t find anything on the internet about paying with a credit card at IMT so hopefully a few people will find this and benefit from it. It’s always a hard line to know when a deal should be talked about verses hidden but I think it’ll survive this.
Questions or comments? Leave the in the comments section below.