Sometimes, lenders allow you to pay one debt with another, but there are a lot of things to know before you charge a mortgage.
You can use a credit card to pay many kinds of bills, and if you have a rewards credit card you pay in full every month, you can use those payments to increase your rewards. It’s a common strategy.
Still, just because you have the ability to pay a bill with your credit card doesn’t mean it’s a safe tactic. Some consumers are tempted to use their credit cards to make mortgage payments, if they have that option, because large transactions generate more rewards, but doing that might actually cost you, rather than save you money.
It’s not very common to have the option to pay your mortgage with a credit card, but if you have the ability to do so, you’ve probably wondered about the risks and rewards of paying a loan with a credit card.
What to Ask Your Lender
If you can use your credit card to pay your mortgage, find out if there are fees associated with the transaction. Credit card transactions can be very expensive to process — it depends on the card you’re using — so the lender may charge you that fee so they don’t have to foot the bill
If there’s a fee, compare that to the rewards you might earn by charging your mortgage payment. Say you’re using a card that offers 1.5% cash back on all purchases — any processing fee exceeding 1.5% means you’re paying to pay your mortgage.
You should also ask how that transaction will be processed. A Reddit user recently posted about paying a mortgage with a credit card, and the payment went through as a cash advance on the card. Cash advances start accruing interest as soon as the transaction clears, which means they can get extremely expensive. Also, cash advances generally carry a higher interest rate than normal credit transactions, hitting you with a double-whammy of higher interest that starts accruing immediately.
Should your lender not charge fees in excess of your rewards, and if it codes the mortgage payment like a regular credit transaction, the strategy could work in your favor.
At the same time, you may set yourself up for some serious financial damage if you miss a payment on the card and have to pay interest on what might end up being a very large balance. You can see how your mortgage is impacting your credit scores for free on Credit.com.
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This article originally appeared on Credit.com.