Investing in real estate can be a lucrative endeavor, especially in today’s hot real estate market. But if you don’t have hundreds of thousands of dollars saved in cash to put toward a property, using a credit card to secure a real estate investment might be an option.
There are ways to execute this investment approach. However, there are also serious caveats to consider before moving forward with using a credit card to invest in real estate.
Can You Buy Real Estate With a Credit Card?
You can’t purchase a physical real estate property outright with a credit card the way you would when using a credit card to buy lunch or a new television. One reason for this is because a typical consumer credit card likely doesn’t offer a credit line large enough to cover the entire home price.
Even if you do qualify for a credit line to cover all or a significant portion of the home price, you’ll face another challenge. The title company or real estate agency that’s facilitating the deal requires that payment is provided using bank-certified funds — such as a cashier’s check, certified bank check, or wire transfer — to finalize your investment transaction. Given what a credit card is, it won’t meet those standards.
How to Finance Real Estate Investments With a Credit Card
While you can’t swipe your credit card to purchase real estate, there are ways that you can leverage your credit card to help fund your real estate investments.
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Through a Cash Advance
If you have a high enough credit limit, a viable way to buy real estate with a credit card is by getting a cash advance against your card. By doing this, the funds you borrow from your credit card will become quickly available for use on a real estate investment, which might be helpful if you’re buying real estate in a red-hot market.
Keep in mind that fees typically apply for cash advances. Typically, you’ll pay a fee in the range 3% to 5% of the transaction amount, depending on your particular card.
Also know that cash advances typically come with interest rates that are higher than the card’s standard annual percentage rate (APR). Plus, interest begins to accrue immediately rather than at the end of the grace period like it does on regular credit card purchases.
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For Related Real Estate Costs
Some investors also use credit cards to invest in real estate by using their card for renovation project expenses. If you purchased a low-cost investment property and want to update it for passive rental income, for example, you might be able to invest in your property by putting charges for contractors and materials on your credit card.
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By Using Credit Card Rewards
Another unconventional approach to buying real estate with credit cards is directly redeeming earned rewards as cash. Cash redemption values are typically lower compared to redeeming rewards toward travel, for example, but this approach can still unearth the capital you need to invest in your next property.
This strategy is particularly effective if you’ve already amassed years of rewards through a business credit card, and are willing to pool earned rewards from your personal credit card rewards programs, too.
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Advantages of Using a Credit Card to Invest in Real Estate
Although buying real estate with a credit card is an unconventional approach, there are some benefits in doing so. In particular, the advantages include that:
• You can invest faster: If you don’t have a lump sum of cash savings ready, it might take years to save up enough capital to get your foot into real estate investing. Using a credit card to invest in real estate can help you realize your investment goals faster.
• You’ll have fewer costs at closing: Since you’re not financing through a mortgage lender, there are fewer fees to worry about. Unlike when buying a home as your primary residence through a mortgage loan, costs like origination fees, appraisals, and escrow fees aren’t a required part of a real estate investment transaction done in cash.
• You might earn rewards in the process: Most card issuers don’t let you earn credit card rewards from cash advances. However, you can accelerate your rewards earnings by using your card for spending associated with your property investment. For example, materials and contractor costs for renovation projects, like a kitchen update or a room addition, can help you rack up rewards faster.
Downsides of Using a Credit Card to Buy Real Estate
There are major disadvantages to using a credit card to invest in real estate. If you’re considering how to buy rental property with credit cards, keep in mind the following drawbacks:
• You’ll have a hard time using credit cards directly to invest in real estate: A notable downside to buying real estate with credit cards is that you’ll likely be unable to throw a credit card onto the table to close a real estate transaction. You’ll have to undergo the extra step of getting a credit card cash advance. But be aware that card issuers might set a lower available limit for cash advances and will impose a higher APR. Plus, you’ll pay cash advance fees.
• You’ll face high interest rates: If you have to draw a cash advance against your credit card to buy real estate, you’ll face expensive APRs, compared to other financing sources, like a personal loan. According to the latest Federal Reserve data, the average credit card rate across all account types is 15.13%. By comparison, the average personal loan rate for a 24-month term is 8.73%.
• You’re taking on a lot of risk: How credit cards work is that they let you purchase goods and services, even if you don’t have the cash to cover the full amount, immediately. The caveat, however, is that you’ll need to repay the amount either in a lump sum when your statement is due or over time.
If you successfully buy real estate with a credit card, you’re legally liable for that debt and must repay it based on the rate and terms of your credit card agreement. This holds true regardless of whether your investment turns a profit. Plus, if you choose to pay back the funds you borrowed over many months, you’ll incur exorbitant interest charges in addition to the principal balance.
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Factors to Consider Before Using Your Credit Card to Invest in Real Estate
After assessing the pros and cons of investing in real estate using a credit card, also consider the following factors that might impact your investment:
• Whether you’ll need additional funding sources: If your credit card doesn’t provide a sufficient amount for your real estate investment, you’ll need to seek funds elsewhere.
• What the local real estate market is like: Whether your goal is buying a property to flip and sell, or buying rental real estate, do your homework. This includes finding a desirable neighborhood and a suitable property, as well as assessing renovation projects and other repairs necessary to set your investment up for profitability.
• If you can repay your credit card bill: At best, consider your credit card as a short-term loan tool. Plan to put profits you’ve earned toward paying down your debt ASAP.
Alternatives to Buying Real Estate With Credit Cards
If you don’t have hard cash stowed away for your next real estate investment, but aren’t ready to leverage your credit cards for the investment, you have a couple of other options:
• Personal loans: A personal loan is another financing option, particularly if you have strong credit. It offers a higher borrowing limit and longer repayment timeline compared to a credit card. Also, as mentioned earlier, personal loan interest rates are generally lower than credit card APRs.
• Personal savings: Another option is using cash and avoiding credit cards and other methods of borrowing altogether. If you have personal savings that you can tap into or are willing to hold off on investing in real estate until you’ve built up enough savings, you can potentially avoid costly finance charges.
Tread carefully when using a credit card (i.e. borrowed money) to fund any investment, including real estate. Adhering to important credit card rules — like staying on top of your credit utilization and paying your credit card statements in full — can help you avoid going into debt for your investment.
If you’re looking for a possible real estate investment card, a SoFi Credit Card lets you earn rewards from eligible purchases.
The SoFi Credit Card offers unlimited 2% cash back on all eligible purchases. There are no spending categories or reward caps to worry about.1
How can I buy rental property with a credit card?
If done strategically, you can use a credit card to buy rental property either through a credit card cash advance or by using the credit card to finance renovations on an investment property flip.
Can I use a business credit card to buy real estate?
Yes, you may be able to use a business credit card to invest in real estate. Doing so separates the debt from your personal credit profile, so the high credit utilization on the business credit card doesn’t affect your personal credit score.
Is it a good idea to buy real estate with a credit card?
Whether buying real estate with credit cards is a good idea depends on your investment risk tolerance. A credit card might work as a short-term funding option, but plan on repaying the debt with your profits quickly to avoid an underwater investment.
Photo credit: iStock/SDI Productions
1Members earn 2 rewards points for every dollar spent on purchases. No points will be earned with respect to reversed transactions, returned purchases, or other similar transactions. When you elect to redeem rewards points as cash deposited into your SoFi Checking and Savings account, as a statement credit to a SoFi Credit Card account, as fractional shares into your SoFi Invest account, or as a payment toward your SoFi Personal Loan or Student Loan Refinance, your rewards points will redeem at a rate of 1 cent per point. For more details please visit the Rewards page. Brokerage and Active investing products offered through SoFi Securities LLC, member FINRA/SIPC. SoFi Securities LLC is an affiliate of SoFi Bank, N.A.
1See Rewards Details at SoFi.com/card/rewards.
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