The Best Way to Pay Rent Online for Free

man holding phone

There is a good chance you are on this page for one simple, yet extremely valid, reason: it’s the year 2020, and you find it unbelievable that once a month, every month, you still have to write a rent check.

But the monthly horrors don’t end there, oh no.

After you’ve re-mastered the ancient art of check-writing for the umpteenth time, you then have to either: mail it to your landlord (might as well write to grandma if you are going to dust off the old letter writing kit), drop it off at some previously agreed upon location and run the terrible risk of human contact with your landlord, or, worst of all, stand in line at the bank, just to deposit it into your landlord’s bank account.

There is a chance, however, that you are here for other, equally valid, reasons. Perhaps you’ve figured out a way to break the vicious rent-check cycle, only to use mediocre online platforms that charge you fees while offering a poor user experience.

Maybe you’ve been using apps like Venmo and Zelle, but are haunted by a feeling in the back of your mind that for some reason you shouldn’t, or that there must be better rent payment apps out there.

Or maybe rent payment isn’t an issue for you at all, but instead, you want to know what other benefits you can take advantage of as a renter.

Whether you are looking for the best way to pay your rent online, or are seeking tools to help make the most out of your renting experience, you’ve come to the right place.

In this article we’ll go over everything renters should know about online rent payment, and much more. Let’s start by looking at the most common online payment methods.

Paying Rent Online

There are many ways to pay for things online these days, ranging from basic bank transfers all the way to exotic, and not-at-all-sketchy K-9 coins.

When it comes to paying rent, however, chances are your landlord will only accept currencies with a dollar sign in front of them, and probably won’t be opening up a crypto wallet to accept rent payments.

This means that if you pay rent online, you will most likely do so using an ACH transfer.

Paying Rent via ACH Transfer

The ACH, or Automatic Clearing House, network is an electronic platform that connects U.S. financial institutions, allowing them to exchange funds and information.

The transfer of funds on this network is referred to as an ACH transfer, where the money is sent directly from one bank account to another.

If you’re a renter using an ACH transfer to pay rent, your money will be sent directly from your bank account to your landlord’s. This is sometimes also referred to as a peer-to-peer transfer (p2p if you want to sound cool).

The main benefit of an ACH transfer is the low transaction fee. Since the transacting banks are both on the ACH network, they can verify and send money electronically, avoiding the cost associated with paper checks and human processing.

So instead of paying the relatively high fees associated with using a credit card to pay for anything, you can pay rent for much cheaper with an ACH transfer.

Why You Should Use an App to Pay Rent

Quick stats – Apple has over 2 million mobile applications in its App Store, and Google has over 1 million in the Play Store. But you didn’t need these facts to confirm what you already know – everyone loves apps.

There are many reasons for this, but chief among them is the superior user experience that a mobile app delivers compared to desktop or mobile websites.

So what goes into a fantastic app user experience?

Better Personalization

Apps use several data points such as your interests, geographical location, general preferences, and past behavior to provide a deeply customized experience for users.

This helps app designers offer the most relevant content at the best possible time, resulting in a serendipitous feeling that bubbles up inside you whenever you think a brand understands you personally.

Many mobile applications never stop learning about user behavior and use third party information sources such as Facebook to remove further friction and save time for users.

Superior Design and Functionality

Sleek design and great branding can make apps look exceptionally beautiful. But if you wanted to, you can make a website look nearly as good.

So where is the superior design?

App functions such as swiping, tapping, pinching, dragging, and holding, which most smartphone users can now do with their eyes closed, make interacting with mobile applications a superior experience.

Websites rely on browser features like the back and refresh buttons and the address bar, resulting in mediocre mobile user experience at best.

In-App and Push Notifications

Let’s say you order an Uber, and 5 minutes later your driver arrives. Wouldn’t it be frustrating if Uber counted on you to remember to reopen the app in exactly 5 minutes, or emailed you to go outside, or god forbid – had the driver call you every time?

In-app and push notifications instantly remind you of things you want to know in a gentle, minimally invasive way. Thanks to app notifications, you know when to go outside without even having to unlock your smartphone.

Accessibility and Offline Use

Unlike websites, which require the user to open a browser, type in a URL, and log in with a username and password, launching an app and getting stuff done is as quick as it gets.

Mobile applications live on your smartphone’s home screen and use its built-in features such as Face ID and mobile wallets, making the user experience much more seamless and secure than any website can.

Also, even though internet access is necessary to unlock the full potential of most apps, many will still work with limited functionality while offline. Have you ever used a website without an internet connection? Exactly.

Why You Shouldn’t Use Venmo and Zelle to Pay Rent

Venmo and Zelle work great when it comes to transferring small amounts of money or paying off regular bills, so it’s no surprise they have become very popular.

When it comes to paying your largest monthly expense, rent, it’s important to keep in mind the downsides of using these apps.

Questionable Security

Fraud has been all too common on both Venmo and Zelle, with users being tricked by fake accounts on a regular basis. If you’ve ever transferred large sums of money online, you know how stressful it can be if you are not 100% certain that your money is going to the correct person.

Venmo and Zelle make you rely on just a phone number or an email address to identify your recipient, which is far from comforting if you are sending hundreds or thousands of dollars every month, and good luck getting your money back if you made a mistake.

Low Initial Transfer Limits

Assuming you are confident that you have the correct destination, or you don’t mind risking it, you likely won’t be able to use these apps to transfer the full rent amount. At least not in one payment to start with.

Transfer limits are standard, and you will likely have to spend some time researching or contacting customer support to find out what yours is.

You could increase your standard transfer limit by verifying your identity, but that means providing your social security number and other sensitive information.

Room for Error

While your rent amount is easy to remember, Venmo or Zelle won’t show you when rent is due, or what to do if you are late.

You would have to be in constant communication with your landlord to know when and how much to pay for things like pet fees, or if you want to be reimbursed for anything.

A good online rental solution can remove any doubt, creating automatic, actionable payments with necessary details such due dates, late fees, and credits or reimbursements

Lack of Additional Renter Features

As previously mentioned, Venmo and Zelle are general payment apps that are not built specifically for rental transactions.

As a result, they don’t offer any renter benefits such as splitting rent with roommates, affordable renters insurance, and access to local service professionals.

Splitting Rent with Roommates

Whether you are new to a city and want to meet new people, looking to save on rent every month, or just don’t want to live alone, there are plenty of reasons to get a roommate.

If you’ve never had one, we suggest you get to know your potential roommates first and align on things like cleanliness, lifestyles, and interests to ensure long-lasting peace in your household.

Once you’ve finalized the roomie situation, it’s time to answer the million-dollar question – how do you split the rent fairly when every room is different?

Simplest Approach – Talk it Through

This tactic works best if you plan on living with friends or relatives since it’s the most straightforward. One of you starts by making an offer – how much are you willing to pay for each room?

Typically you can just talk it through among friends and reach common ground based on your bids, if you really want the master suite for example, you will offer the highest price for it.

If you all end up happy, this method can be quick and painless. But what if you can’t agree?

Numbers Don’t Lie – Let’s Check the Tape

Math doesn’t get its feelings hurt, making it perfect for a roommate standoff.

Here’s an easy formula you can follow to fairly split the rent:

  1. Measure the square footage of each bedroom. Use a tape measure and multiply the length of the room by the width to calculate the total square footage.
  2. Divide the square footage of each bedroom, including any other space you want to personally claim, by the total for all individual living spaces (exclude living rooms, kitchens, and other common areas).
  3. Multiply the percentage for each room by the total rent to calculate the monthly rent for that room.

For example – if bedroom one is 900 sq. ft. and bedroom two is 600 sq. ft., the split is 60%/40%, respectively. Rent of $2,000 would be divided into $1,200 for bedroom one and $800 for bedroom two.

Too easy? Let’s turn it up a notch.

Get Super Nerdy – Sperna’s Lemma

Francis Edward Su, a gentleman and a math scholar, was pretty upset that his friend was upset because he and the roommates couldn’t figure out how to split rent.

So being an excellent friend, Fran cranked up the math and came up with a legit mathematical method for splitting rent, and he named it Sperna’s Lemma.

We don’t want to get too technical (for everyone’s sake) but the Lemma basically maps out every room choosing and rent splitting scenario, representing each as a small triangle on a larger diagram that calculates rent per room based on perceived values, self-interests and preferences.

Don’t have time to read Fran Eddy’s research paper? You’re in luck!

Thank You, Spliddit!

There’s a website for almost anything these days, and Sperna’s Lemma was definitely too good to pass up. 

Spliddit took on the challenging task of making math useful for basic humans and pretty much crushed it.

The process is simple: every roommate inputs how much they think the rent for each room should be. Once all roommates submit their preferences, Spliddit spits out the final rent breakdown with an explanation of how it was calculated.

Paying Your Security Deposit Online

This next statement won’t surprise anyone – landlords really, really, really care about their properties.

This is why tenants have to jump through many hoops prior to moving in, including getting screened, purchasing renters insurance, and paying all kinds of deposits for the duration of the lease.

The biggest cash outlay of them all, and therefore the most important, is the security deposit.

What is a Security Deposit?

A security deposit is a sum of cash, typically equal to one month’s rent, that you give your landlord to hold, with the understanding that the money can be used to cover any damage that you cause or expenses due to your tenancy such as lost rent or cleaning fees.

Depending on how good a tenant you are and if you took the right steps along the way, you will hopefully get all or a portion of your deposit back when you move out.

How to Pay Your Security Deposit Online For Free

A security deposit is typically a large sum of money, so landlords ask for certified checks to ensure you actually have it in your account. This means you will be forced to make inconvenient trips to the bank, and cover the associated check fees out of your pocket.

Paying your security deposit and other move-in costs online can save you time and money.

Using Zuby, renters can also share move-in and move-out pictures and checklists, helping to ensure a full refund of your security deposit.

Zuby is a Free App Designed for Renters

Zuby was created to make life easier for both landlords and renters and is free to download and sign up.

Renters can pay rent for free, split rent with roommates, order local professionals like cleaners and handymen, get affordable renters insurance, and stay organized and never have to pay a late fee.

So check out our app, and best of luck on your renting journey!

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