Tenant Management

The Best Online Rent Payment Service for Small Landlords

man making online rent payment

Property management software can be a useful tool for small and independent landlords to effectively run their businesses. We have written overviews of several top software products that offer solutions for a variety of standard property management tasks from advertising and applications to tenant screening, lease signing and rent collection. Here we compare how each of them handle online rent payment from a landlord’s perspective. We compare them across a variety of factors and then determine the best online rent payment service for small landlords.

Which Property Management Software Offers the Best Online Rent Payment Service

Best Overall
Lowest Cost to Landlords
Best for Large Portfolios

Click here to view the complete scores.

We considered the following rental property management software products for the best online rent payment service:

ClearNow:

ClearNow rent collection logo

ClearNow is an easy-to-use and reliable service focusing on tenant screening and online rent collection. They have automated rent payment since 2000, and serve landlords and property managers of all sizes (1+ units). ClearNow Rent Collection Software Overview

Rentec Direct:

RentecDirect property management software logo

Rentec Direct offers property management software and tenant screening solutions for landlords and real estate professionals to manage properties, tenants, and accounts online. Subscribers can collect rent payments, post vacancies, screen applicants, collect rent, and more. Rentec Direct Rental Property Management Software Overview

Buildium:

Buildium property management software logo

Buildium property management software supports the larger DIY landlord and property managers. The software includes tools to help with accounting and bookkeeping, lease & document management, maintenance tracking, applications and screening, and more. Buildium Overview

SparkRental:

SparkRental landlord app logo

With SparkRental’s landlord app, you can easily take care of everything from advertising your space to handling payments and sending notices. SparkRental Property Management Software Overview

VerticalRent:

VerticalRent property management logo

VerticalRent provides a variety of property management services for landlords. Plans range from $0 to $20/month and include features such as applications and screening, online rent collection, financial reporting, tenant notices, and maintenance management. VerticalRent Rental Property Management Software Overview

The Best Online Rent Payment Service Criteria & Scores

We graded each of the software providers on 5 key rent collection features on a 10 point scale, plus a bonus feature. Read on for more details. Here’s how they stack up:

SoftwareClearNowRentec DirectBuildiumSparkRentalVerticalRent
Payment options7101099
Recurring payments98.51088.5
Speed of payments7.510988
Cost7769.59
Reporting/Accounting109988
Bonus: credit reporting+1+0.5+1
TOTAL (out of 50)41.544.5444343.5

Payment Options:

We looked at the availability and variety of different rent payment options each software provider offers. These include both online and offline options. More options mean flexibility for tenants to pay rent through a variety of methods. As a result, this helps get their rent paid and to the landlord on time.

ClearNow – score 7/10:

Tenants can pay from their checking or savings accounts only. However, tenants do not need a computer or Internet access to use ClearNow. They simply complete their Tenant Enrollment Agreement (online or printed form) and send in their bank documentation to begin.

Rentec Direct – score 10/10:

Rentec Direct makes it easy for tenants to pay rent using their credit card, debit card, or bank account. Tenants can also make cash rental payments at one of over 20,000 locations that are part of the PayNearMe cash network.

Buildium – score 10/10:

Residents authorize their bank accounts or credit cards to make online rent payments. Together with PayNearMe, Buildium also lets residents make cash payments at over 20,000 locations nationwide.

SparkRental – score 9/10:

Your renters can choose to pay by ACH (bank transfer/eCheck), by credit card, or by debit card.

VerticalRent – score 9/10:

Tenants can sign-up and immediately start paying rent online using their credit card, debit card, or checking account with VerticalRent’s easy-to-use tenant portal.


Automated/Recurring Rent Payment:

We looked at whether the service offers tenants the ability to schedule recurring rent payments each month and how flexible the payment dates are. For example, does the payment occur only on the 1st of each month, or can landlords and tenants schedule different dates. And can the tenant schedule multiple payments each month? This helps ensure payment of rent before spending their paychecks on anything else.

ClearNow – score 9/10:

Tenants can pay biweekly, semimonthly, or monthly. Each ClearNow account debits on a specific day and credits to a specific bank account. ClearNow is unique in that landlords can specify their own debit day: 1st of the month; 5th; 15th; 25th; Biweekly (every other Tuesday); or Semimonthly (3rd and 17th).

ClearNow does not collect partial rent payments. If a tenant does not have 100% of the rent amount in his/her bank account, then nothing is collected. This is important in some jurisdictions where partial rent payment might prevent a landlord from starting the eviction process.

Rentec Direct – score 8.5/10:

You or your tenant will login to Rentec Direct and specify the frequency the charge should occur, either monthly or weekly, and on what day to process the transaction. Rentec EasyPay also supports one-time transactions. On the specified date, Rentec deducts the rent from the tenant’s checking or savings account and after it clears a few days later forwards it to the property manager’s account.

Buildium – score 10/10:

Residents can set up a recurring online rent payment schedule and can choose from a multitude of frequency options including one-time, every month, every two weeks, daily, and more. Rent will never be late, because it’s deposited into your bank account automatically.

SparkRental – score 8.5/10:

Your tenant can set up recurring payments or log in to make rent payments manually each month with a click of a button. It is unclear if SparkRental can handle more frequent recurring online rent payments.

VerticalRent – score 8.5/10:

Tenants can setup auto-rent payment online – weekly or monthly.


Speed:

We compared the time it takes for the landlord to receive payments. We also ask if there is an option to expedite payments. All providers claim that most rent payments clear and deposit into your bank accounts within 3 days, but there are some differences.

ClearNow – score 7.5/10:

Three banking days after the debit day, your bank account is credited the rent amount, less any ClearNow fees. However, there are no options to expedite payment.

Rentec Direct – score 10/10:

Rentec Direct transmits credit card payments to your bank account the day following the transaction.

ACH funds are transmitted the day following the transaction. You can also get same day funding of ACH transactions for a fee of $0.50 per transaction. Depending on your bank, the funds might be available the same day they are transmitted or any day following. Larger national banks typically show the funds the same day as they are transmitted as “pending”, and fully cleared the following day. Smaller banks do not have the same connections to the federal reserve and therefore can take anywhere from 1-3 days to post the transaction to your account.

Buildium – score 9/10:

Online rent payments using EFT/eCheck or credit card will be deposited into your back account 2 business days after the resident makes a payment through Buildium. Landlords can request faster EFT deposits for a small fee between $1.00-1.45 per transaction.

Money from completed PayNearMe transactions will be deposited into your bank account within 5 business days without any risk of reversal.

SparkRental – score 8/10:

Total transfer time is only 2-3 days – the renter submits payment, and it appears in your bank account. SparkRental does not provide options for expedited payouts, however.

VerticalRent – score 8/10:

2-3 day payouts. No option for expedited payouts.


Fees/Cost:

We examined the fees each online rent payment service charges under their free or most basic plans. Our graders did not attempt to factor prices of subscription plans into a cost per transaction since the number of units and transactions differ for everyone. However, we did lower scores where a monthly subscription is required to collect rent online, ie, no free options. We also looked at the costs a “typical” small landlord with 5 units would be facing for rent collection and required subscription payments.

ClearNow – score 7/10:

There are no set-up fees and no long-term contracts. Fees are charged to the landlord when ClearNow attempts to debit a tenant. With no option for tenants to pay, ClearNow then deducts fees directly from the transaction.

  • Monthly debit: $14.95/month for one debit. Each additional debit is $2/month.
  • Biweekly or semimonthly debit: $4/debit.
  • Additional account for monthly debit on a different day: $7.95/month for one debit. Each additional debit is $2/month.

To compare pricing across the different online rent payment services, let’s take look at a landlord with 5 units. Using ClearNow, her monthly cost would be $14.95 for the first unit, plus $2 for each additional unit for a total of $22.95.

Rentec Direct – score 7/10:

Free ACH (eCheck) transactions are included with a Rentec Pro or PM subscription. No setup costs or other monthly costs. Expedited same day ACH funding costs $0.50 per transaction. The Rentec Basic option does not include the ability to collect online rent payment though.

Credit card payments are billed at 2.75% of the transaction cost. This can be paid by either the tenant or landlord.

Cash payments through the PayNearMe cash payment network have a $200 setup cost, and tenants pay $3.99 per transaction. There is no monthly cost, but a minimum of 10 payments per month is required.

Subscription fees for Rentec Pro start at $35/month, and $40/month for Rentec PM. In this case, our small landlord with 5 units would just pay $35 each month if she were to sign up for the cheaper Rentec Pro plan.

Buildium – score 6/10:

You must have a subscription to one of Buildium’s paid plans, starting from $47/month for the Core plan and $156/month for the Pro plan.

Online payment costs for the Core plan are:

  • $1.00 per incoming EFT transaction
  • $0.50 per outgoing EFT transaction
  • 2.95% per credit card transaction
  • $99 setup fee per business bank account

For the Pro plan, they come down to:

  • Free incoming EFT payments
  • $0.50 per outgoing payment
  • 2.95% per credit card transaction
  • Free setup for first five business bank accounts

With Buildium, our landlord would pay $47/month for the Buildium Pro plan. For 5 units, she would then pay $5 for ETF transactions each month, but those could be passed on to her tenants. As a result, the total combined cost would be $52/month, not including the $99 bank setup fee.

SparkRental – score 9.5/10:

Landlords can take advantage of SparkRental’s online rent payment service at any membership level, including the free version, with no setup fees. You can collect rent from 1 tenant who will pay a $0.99 ACH fee per transaction or a 6% credit card fee if they choose to pay by that method.

With the $19/month Premium plan, you can have up to 5 tenants with free ACH payments or 5% credit card fees. Under the $39/month Ultimate plan, collect rent from unlimited tenants with free ACH payments and 4% credit card transaction fees. In this case, the total cost to a landlord with 5 units in comes to $19/month.

VerticalRent – score 9/10:

Landlords with one tenant can use VerticalRent’s online rent payment service for a $5 one-time setup fee. The tenant will pay $5/ACH payment or a 6% credit card transaction fee.

With the $10/month Premium plan, the setup fee is waived, and you can collect rent from up to 5 tenants who will each pay $2/ACH payment or 5% per credit card transaction.

The $20 Unlimited plan offers unlimited tenants with no setup fee. ACH payments are free for the first 3 transactions per month. Beyond that, tenants will pay $1 per payment or 4% credit card transaction fees.

Our 5 unit landlord would pay a $10/month membership and another $10/month in ACH payments, though she can pass that on to her tenants. This comes to $20/month but potentially as low as $10/month out of pocket, the lowest of the providers here.


Tracking/Reminders/Reporting:

While all of the property management software solutions offer at least some integration of rent payments into their accounting and reporting tools, some have more robust functionality than others. Which these more advanced features are included the software? Do they have the ability to track payments and integrate receipts into accounting or reporting? Do tenants receive reminders for upcoming rent payments, and are landlords notified if rent is late or missing? The answers to these questions affect our scores.

ClearNow – score 10/10:

Eight days before the debit day – Tenants receive payment reminders (for those with e-mail). On the credit day, a payment report is sent to the landlord via email. These are also stored in your ClearNow account.

ClearNow will notify you via e-mail of tenants who failed their debit via ClearNow, in which case they will need to pay their rent directly to you in another form such as a check or money order. ClearNow will not re-attempt the debit for that particular payment, but they may assess a fee to the tenant for the failed debit.

You can download ClearNow payment data as a CSV file and view with spreadsheet software, such as Microsoft Excel. There are also additional reports based on income and expense tracking, such as profit and loss statements. One report in particular, the Schedule E Helper, makes completing the Schedule E of Form 1040 simple at tax time.

Rentec Direct – score 9/10:

All of the packages from Rentec Direct include financial tracking and reporting options. You can also connect your Rentec account with your bank to download and sync your online rent receipts into Quickbooks. Rentec Direct also offers a variety of specialized property and owner reports you can email, print, download or export.

Buildium – score 9/10:

When a resident has a one-time or recurring payment scheduled, they will receive an email seven days in advance notifying them of this upcoming payment.

Completed transactions will automatically post to your Buildium account within minutes — no manual entry required. As a result, landlords spend less collecting, depositing, and logging cash payments.

SparkRental – score 8/10:

Rent is deposited directly into the landlord’s bank account. SparkRental also automatically tracks rent payments in your online ledger in the Landlord App. You can also generate income and expense reports, Schedule E tax reporting, and others.

VerticalRent – score 8/10:

After a landlord sets up a lease within VerticalRent, the tenant is invoiced automatically each month. The tenant would have the ability to pay the outstanding balance by eCheck from the tenant portal, and funds are automatically deposited into the landlord’s bank account. The income and expense ledger would automatically reflect the rent received amount.


Bonus Point – Credit Agency Reporting:

Does the online rent payment service report payments (and missed payments) to the credit bureaus such as TransUnion and Experian? This feature can incentivize tenants to make payments on-time while improving their credit scores.

ClearNow +1:

Tenants enrolled in ClearNow may report their rent payments made to Experian RentBureau and PRBC:

  • After your tenants enroll in ClearNow, they provide consent to ClearNow to have their rent payment data furnished to credit bureaus.
  • For successful rent payments through ClearNow, nothing needs to be done. For debits that fail or are blocked, you must update your tenant’s payment record.
  • After four (4) payment records, the first submission of data is furnished. Thereafter, data is furnished on a monthly basis. All payments made while the tenant is enrolled in ClearNow will be furnished regardless of when the tenant opts in for credit reporting.
  • There is no additional fee for furnishing data to Experian RentBureau and PRBC.

Rentec Direct:

Not Available

Buildium:

Not Available

SparkRental +0.5:

Coming Soon – SparkRental will report every on-time payment to help renters build their credit. And they will also report late payment to incentivize tenants to pay on time. We don’t know when this feature will roll out, but we will take them on their word that it is in progress.

VerticalRent +1:

Yes. Credit Booster by VerticalRent helps renters establish positive rent payment credit history with each payment. Your tenants only need to:

  • Verify with a Photo ID and Selfie
  • Upload a Lease Agreement and Prior Rent Payment History
  • Start Paying Rent via Credit/Debit Card or eCheck (ACH)

The Best Online Rent Payment Service

And the winner is: Rentec Direct. While we generally favor online rent payment products that do not require a subscription to use, Rentec Direct made up for the upfront monthly required subscription by scoring highest in 2 other categories. By offering the most (along with Buildium) payment options (including cash) for tenants along with the fastest deposit times for receiving rent payments, Rentec Direct wins the best online rent payment service overall.

Best online rent payment service overall winner: Rentec Direct

Sign up for a free trial today at www.rentecdirect.com.


The Best Online Rent Payment Service with the Lowest Costs to Landlords

If reducing your out-of-pocket expenses is the most important aspect, there are a couple of other excellent options, depending on your portfolio size:

VerticalRent: For our sample landlord with 5 units, the cost to subscribe to VerticalRent’s premium plan is just $10/month. Her tenants will pay the $2/ACH transaction fees, and she will have access to all of the features offered to premium subscribers. This makes VerticalRent our best online rent payment service for lowest out-of-pocket landlord costs.

Best online rent payment service lowest cost winner

Sign up at VerticalRent and start collecting rent online today.

SparkRental: For landlords with just one unit, however, SparkRental is the clear winner. Landlords can use the free plan and pass the $0.99/ACH fee to their tenant. With no setup fees, online rent collection through SparkRental truly is free for landlords. As a result, SparkRental earns our choice for the best free online rent payment service.

Best online rent payment service lowest cost winner

Sign up for a free account with SparkRental.


The Best Online Rent Payment Service for Large Portfolios

If you manage a large building or several properties where online rent collection is a priority, Buildium is your best option. While both the Core and Pro plans are the most expensive subscriptions presented here, landlords can spread the cost out over dozens or even hundreds of units if they roll out this software product to every resident. Buildium offers multiple payment options for your tenants and provides the flexibility for landlords to offer a choice of recurring payment dates. As a result, this makes it easier for tenants to pay rent on time. The reporting is robust and offers a multitude of features that larger property managers and owners can use. Therefore, Buildium earns the top spot in our rankings for landlords with large portfolios to manage.

Best online rent payment service large portfolio winner

Get paid faster with online payments from Buildium.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links and Landlord Gurus may earn a commission. Our mission remains to provide valuable resources and information that helps landlords manage their rental properties efficiently and profitably. We link to these companies and their products because of their quality, not because of the commission.

Photo by rupixen.com on Unsplash

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About Chris Lee

Chris comes from a family of real estate investors, and remembers well his childhood of helping to prepare apartments between renters. He now manages his own property, apartment complexes, and condos. He has particular insight into the issues around short-term rentals as he manages those for himself and for other owners.
View all posts by Chris Lee →

1 thought on “The Best Online Rent Payment Service for Small Landlords

  1. Cozy is also a good addition in collecting rents online. Also, for the one feature which no one offers but spark rental is Pay check deduction.

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