Let’s talk not just about credit cards, but debit cards as well. We’ve become a “plastic” society, with fewer checks written at the grocery checkout and everywhere else. It’s simply more convenient to pay with a debit or credit card. A credit card is also definitely a benefit if the tenant is having a tough month and it may be the only way they can pay you on time.
Accepting debit and credit cards is definitely a service your tenants will appreciate, but can you afford it? If you go the traditional route, getting a card machine and paying monthly fees and minimums, you’ll have some recurring monthly charge whether you take a card that month or not. It can be $25 to $50/month or more.
You’ll also pay a percentage of every transaction and a small per-transaction fee, usually around $0.30 to $0.50 for each transaction. The percentage varies from 1.75% to as much as 3.0% depending on whether you swipe the card or take the information over the phone. These aren’t insignificant costs. One way to make this decision is to simply think about how many times you may have been asked if you take cards. You should also check out the competition to see if they’re advertising this service.
An approach that may be a little on the high side per transaction but carries little or no monthly cost would be to get a PayPal Business Account. You don’t need a machine, and you can even get a swipe attachment for a smartphone. You can also take all of the popular cards at the same 2.9% +/- fee. Go right to your tenants late on rent and you may be able to collect at the door.
If you’re still not sure this is of value to you, there is an online service set up for tenants at WilliamPaid.com. You can encourage your tenants to sign up there, and you need do nothing. They just tell the service when and where to pay the rent and they can use their credit or debit cards to pay. You get the check in the mail. If you cater to roommates, this service will even let them split their rent and you get a single payment.
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