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.
June 2020 update: This article has been updated with new online rent payment services and winners. VerticalRent has also announced it will cease operations effective May 31, 2020.
Which Property Management Software Offers the Best Online Rent Payment Service
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Video Extra – Collecting Rent Online:
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We considered the following rental property management software products for the best online rent payment service:
With Avail, you can advertise your property, find and screen tenants, sign leases, and collect rent, on any device, with tools built specifically for DIY landlords. Customizable state-specific lease documents are available, along with e-signing and document storage. Avail publishes your online listings to Zillow, Trulia and Hotpads, as well as to apartments.com. Avail Property Management Software Overview.
Avail is a winner for Residential Lease Agreements: Best Software for Small Landlords
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
ClearNow is a winner in our Best Tenant Screening Service for Small Landlords
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
PayRent helps property owners and managers collect rent online quickly, safely and securely. In just a few clicks, you can add your properties and get your tenants enrolled and start receiving rent payments. It is always free to sign up. The low transaction fees can be either absorbed by the landlord or passed through to your tenant. Sign up here.
PayRent is a winner in our Best Free Property Management Software for Small Landlords
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
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
TenantCloud is cloud rental property management software that helps you receive payments online, advertise your properties and screen potential tenants. Pricing ranges from $0 for their basic plan to $35/month for their advanced plan for DIY landlords and property managers. Customize basic lease templates and send to applicants for e-signing. Rental Property Management Software: TenantCloud
TenantCloud is a winner in our Best Ways to Advertise Property for Rent
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:
|TOTAL (out of 50)||44.5||44||41.5||43.5||44.5||43||43|
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.
Avail – score 8.5/10:
Tenants can pay however they want, from bank accounts or credit cards. They can also pay from any device that has access to the internet. Getting started is simple. Enter the rent amount and lease dates, your tenant’s name and email, and Avail will handle the rest.
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.
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.
PayRent – score 8.5/10:
Your tenants will have a choice of either e-check or credit card payment methods. Add your tenants to the platform and PayRent will send out an email invitation for them to join the service then help them through the process of adding a payment method.
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.
SparkRental – score 9/10:
Your renters can choose to pay by ACH (bank transfer/eCheck), by credit card, or by debit card.
TenantCloud – score 9.5/10:
With the TenantCloud free plan, your tenants can pay using Stripe or PayPal. With one of the paid plans, you can accept ACH using TC Payments powered by Dwolla, PayPal, or any other debit and credit card payments.
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.
Avail – score 8/10:
Tenants can turn on Autopay to schedule recurring online rent payments. They simply choose a date to withdraw the funds, and Avail will deposit the funds directly to your 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.
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.
PayRent – score 10/10:
Working late or going on vacation shouldn’t stop your tenants from making their online rent payment on time. Let them set up a one-time future payment, or weekly, semi-monthly or monthly recurring payments so you know your rent will be paid no matter where they are or how busy they may be.
Rentec Direct – score 8.5/10:
You or your tenant will login to Rentec Direct and specify the frequency the rent payment 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.
SparkRental – score 8.5/10:
Your tenant can set up recurring payments or log in to make an online rent payment manually each month with a click of a button. It is unclear if SparkRental can handle more frequent recurring rent payments.
TenantCloud – score 8.5/10:
Tenants that have set up TCPayments can also enable Auto Pay to make rent payments automatically on before the due date.
We compared the time it takes for the landlord to receive their online rent payment. 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 or so, but there are some differences.
Avail – score 10/10:
Payments typically deposit directly to your bank in just 2 business days, faster than a check and without the hassle of a trip to the bank. With Avail’s Unlimited Plus premium plan, next day payments are available to landlords at no additional cost.
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.
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.
PayRent – score 7.5/10:
PayRent can deposit your rent payments to any bank with branches in the United States, usually within 3 days from when rent payments are made. There is no option for expedited payments.
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.
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 rent payouts, however.
TenantCloud – score 6.5/10:
An ACH transaction usually takes 3–4 business days to complete. Transfers to your bank account takes another 1-2 business days, longer if they are over a weekend or holiday.
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.
Avail – score 9.5/10:
Using Avail’s free Unlimited plan, ACH transfers cost $2.50 per transaction. With the premium Unlimited Plus plan, landlords receive free ACH transfers. With either plan, credit or debit card transactions are charged a 3.5% transaction fee. To compare pricing across the different online rent payment services, let’s take look at a landlord with 5 units. With the free plan, the cost would be $12.50 per month, which can be paid by either the landlord or tenants. With the paid plan, the monthly subscription fees would cost $25/month but rent collection costs would be $0.
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 rent 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.
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.
PayRent – score 10/10:
There is no monthly subscription cost to use PayRent’s online rent payment service. They simply charge 0.25% per transfer, which the tenant can pay directly. With our sample 5-unit landlord at an average unit rent of $1500 per month, the rent collection costs would come to $18.75. This would change if your rent was higher or lower.
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.
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.
TenantCloud – score 9/10:
With the TenantCloud free plan, landlords can only accept rent using Stripe or PayPal. Both services charge 2.9% of the transfer amount, plus $0.30 per transaction. These fees are paid by the tenant. With one of the paid plans, ACH transactions are free. TenantCloud’s standard plan costs $9 per month for up to 150 units under management.
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 of 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 influence our scores.
Avail – score 7.5/10:
Avail offers automatic reminder emails and built-in payment receipts. Late fees can be automatically assessed as well. Landlords have access to payment tracking and reporting, though integration with your accounting or bookkeeping software may be limited.
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.
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.
PayRent – score 7.5/10:
PayRent sends automated rent reminders to your renters which helps avoid last-minute confusion and stress. You will also receive instant email notification when rent is paid as well as full accounting and tracking of rent payments. There do not seem to be other reporting features that some of the other services offer.
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.
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.
TenantCloud – score 9.5/10:
TenantCloud has robust reporting and accounting features to help you keep track of all your income and expenses. Tenants can pay rent and get automatic receipts as well as look up their payment history. There is also automatic invoicing and late fees, as well as financial and rental reports, and simple exporting of your data as needed. With TenantCloud’s $35/month Advanced subscription service, you can even sync your data with Quickbooks.
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.
Avail can report your tenants’ on-time rent payments to Transunion with their CreditBoost service. Your tenants may see up to a 40 point increase in their credit score.
- 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.
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.
The Best Online Rent Payment Service
The best online rent payment services are: Rentec Direct and Avail. 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 is one of our winners for the best online rent payment service overall.
Sign up for a free trial today at www.rentecdirect.com.
Avail also is one of our winners for the best online rent payment service overall. With next day FastPay ACH transfers included for Unlimited Plus subscribers and 2-day deposit times for all others, Avail offers a fast and convenient rent payment service. Additionally, landlords do not need to be a paid subscriber to access Avail’s online rent payment service. At $2.50 per transfer that your tenant can pay, a landlord has the opportunity to collect rent at no additional cost.
Set up online rent payments at Avail today.
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:
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.
Sign up for a free account with SparkRental.
PayRent: PayRent is a service that focuses exclusively on rent payments. As a result, they offer a unique product that makes it easy and safe for landlords to collect rent online. No subscription plan and a simple pricing structure means no ongoing monthly payments. Choose to pass-through transaction fees to your tenants, and your rent payment fees are $0 forever. And unlike SparkRental’s free plan, you can use PayRent for unlimited properties.
Sign up for free at PayRent.com.
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 of online rent payment services for landlords with large portfolios.
Get paid faster with online payments from Buildium.
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