4 Ways to Save Money on Rent — Without Moving
For months, one of the biggest stories in the country — let alone finance stories — has been the rate of inflation. Due to a number of factors, Americans have seen everything from their grocery bills to their gas pump totals rise. Similarly, many renters have experienced hikes on their monthly payments. Heck, my rent went up 10% and I felt lucky that it wasn’t more! Given this reality, there’s a good chance that you’re currently looking for ways to save some money on rent.
Admittedly, this isn’t exactly an easy task. Furthermore, if you’re like me and aren’t ready to move, it can be even more difficult to find savings. Nevertheless, there are a few ways you may be able to save money on your monthly rent — using practical methods or some newer tool.
4 Ideas For Saving Money on Rent (Without Having to Move)
Find a roommate
I know, I hear you — this one is obvious. Yet. I need to mention it at the top because it’s clearly the most effective way to reduce your housing costs without having to relocate. Sharing your space might not be the most fun solution, but the savings are real.
Before you go looking for someone to sublet a spare room, you’ll want to make sure you’re staying on the right side of your landlord’s rule. Be sure to review your lease — as you’ll likely need to add any other residents to it. Even if you think you can get away with having someone move in and split the rent without your landlord being the wiser, you really don’t want such sneakiness to end up biting you in the butt!
If you don’t have any natural roommates in mind, there are a few ways to go about your search. First, you may want to ask your friends or coworkers if they happen to know anyone who might be interested. Should that fail, there are plenty of online platforms dedicated to matching people up. There’s also always the Craigslist option. Although Craiglist might not have the greatest reputation, I’ve personally both posted and responded to roommate listings on the platform with pretty good success. With that said, you will want to develop a good screening process quickly should you go this route (trust me, though, your BS meter will get a workout within a day or two of posting).
Ultimately, adding a roommate to your living situation may just not be in the cards. But, if it is at all possible, it may be worth exploring. Just be sure to loop your landlord in, do you’re vetting, and protect yourself from scams should you pursue this option.
Renew with a longer lease
It’s often been advised that, when renewing your lease, you might want to try negotiating with your landlord. Although you might still want to take a swing at this… I honestly don’t see many having much success given the current market conditions that give landlords a far stronger hand. With that said, there may still be ways to bring them down on price, such as offering to pay several months upfront. Then, if all else fails, you can at least put off future rate hikes by signing a longer lease.
For some, signing a lease is like handcuffing themselves — so the idea of going for an even longer contract sounds like the last thing they’d want to do. On the other hand, this strategy can be a good way to lock in your current rental rate for as long as possible. There’s also a small chance that your landlord will offer a discount for longer leases (since it gives them greater security too) but, if so, that’s just icing on the cake.
Of course, if you aren’t happy in your current home and/or think you might want to move sooner rather than later, this may not be the best strategy. That’s because in the event you do need to break your lease, it could cost you two months of rent or more. However, if you’re content where you are and want to put off subsequent rent increases for as long as you can, trying for a longer lease could save you money overall.
Try the Bilt card
When the Bilt Mastercard debuted, the reason it made a splash was because it offered rewards on a spending category mostly ignored by other cards: rent. In fact, as you surely know if you’ve ever tried to use a credit card to pay your landlord, they often don’t even accept cards or charge ridiculously high fees to use them. That’s where Bilt comes in, offering a solution for these problems, while also giving customers up to 1% back.
As a Bilt Mastercard customer, the platform will provide you with a routing and account number a la a checking account. This will then allow you to use the card on rent payment platforms via ACH — thus avoiding those pesky fees. What’s more, if you’re landlord is old school and only accepts checks, Bilt says they can mail them one on your behalf while charging your card.
Of course, as cool as those little hacks are, what’s even cooler is that the Bilt card rewards you with 1% back on your rental payments. These points can then be redeemed for cashback, travel purchases, gift cards, and more. Note that different redemptions have different values for better or worse. For example, the new Bilt Travel portal values those points at 1.25¢ each.
As for downsides, in order to earn any points, you’ll need to make at least five eligible purchases on the card per month. Also of note, the number of points you can earn from rental payments is capped at 50,000 per year. Still, I think this could be a good option for renters — which is why I added the Bilt Mastercard to my own wallet just this week.
Consider using Enzo
This one comes with a bit of an asterisk, but let me explain. Like the Bilt credit card, Enzo is a way to earn cashback while paying rent. However, while the former is backed by Wells Fargo and other big players, Enzo is much lower on the startup ladder. As a result, the FinTech is far more susceptible to changes — and has already evolved a couple of times since I’ve started using it.
With that throat clearing out of the way, the reason I still wanted to mention Enzo is because it allows you to save up to 2% on your rent. By using the platform and marking your payment as rent, you’ll receive your cashback on the 5th of the following month. I’ve actually been using this platform since its beta days and, back then, that 2% off was open to all. Now, the rules have changed and you’ll now need to receive direct deposits of $1,500+ or maintain a balance of $2,000+ to unlock this perk. All things considered, these current requirements seem pretty reasonable.
As I stated, there is a chance that Enzo could continue to tighten these rules or the platform could even go away if it doesn’t catch on quickly enough. Nevertheless, in the meantime, it could well help you save some cash on your rent.
To quote a famed politician that I doubt many can still name: “The rent is too damn high!” Unfortunately, more than a decade after Jimmy McMillan (yes, I Googled it) made that declaration, costs have only continued to rise. The good news is that, in addition to some tried-and-true options, there are now a growing number of financial tools that are addressing this dilemma and rewarding renters. Hopefully, with one or more of these options, you can save at least a bit on money on your rent — and prevent yourself from having to move.