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Paying Rent Online with ACH or Debit Card

The majority of landlords prefer checks, but online payment options now allow you to use ACH or debit cards.


Even though we're squarely in the 21st century, a lot of landlords still prefer that you pay your rent by check. But if you've got one of those hip, new-fangled landlords who's down with online payments, you're probably paying in one of two ways—debit card or ACH payments. The difference between the two comes down mostly to speed.

What are ACH payments?

ACH (short for Automated Clearing House) is a way to move money between banks without using paper checks, wire transfers, credit card networks, or cash. There are no processing fees for either side. However, it requires extra verification steps, which means that it takes longer for an ACH payment to arrive than a debit or credit card payment.

Before sending an ACH payment, the network verifies your account information through a series of small deposits. After this, it will take a few days for the ACH network to verify that you have sufficient funds. If you go with ACH, make sure to set up your payment 10 days before the first of the month in order to avoid a late fee.

How are debit card payments different than ACH?

A debit card payment works just like ACH in that it deducts money from your checking account. But there's one big difference: verification that you have the funds and that the bank account is actually your bank account happens immediately. This means that the money is authorized, verified, and transferred in real time and will show up in your landlord's account within two days. This can save everyone a big headache.

What if my landlord only accepts checks?

Keep in mind, you can only use these payment methods if your landlord is set up to accept them. They must be using software like ClickPay, Realpage, or Yardi with offerings for landlords.

That said, there is a nifty workaround if you want to pay online, but your landlord wants a check. You can use your bank's online "bill pay" tool to turn a credit or debit card payment into a check. The money will be debited from your account and sent to your landlord in the form of a paper check.

The information provided on this website does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice.


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