How to Use Property Management Software to Avoid Banks' Hidden Fees


Finding the best vendor to process the payments your apartment communities collect each month requires research. Should the solution focus on the provider with the lowest cost? What about a solution that eliminates work for site staff?

Many apartment property owners and managers may initially turn to their banks for these services. After all, the bank is providing other financial services to the property management company, why not payment processing as well?

Here’s the problem: If dealing directly with a bank for electronic payment processing, you’re likely being nickeled and dimed to death from all the hidden transaction and service fees. Banks do support ACH and IRD (money order) payments, and may provide some of these services at a lower price. But they often fail to mention the hidden fees they charge handling your payments processing, including, just to mention a few:

  • Images of checks
  • Daily transaction monitoring
  • ACH and IRD file transmissions
  • ACH and IRD returns file transmissions
  • Reporting
  • Set-up fees

These and many other hidden costs can add up, with the net result being more processing costs for you.

The Cost of Convenience

What about the hidden costs to your communities if you use a bank for these services? The cost for your staff to manually process checks on site ranges from $2 to $3.50 per check in labor alone. That can really add up if your community processes hundreds of checks each month.

Also consider this: banks can only support on-site ACH and IRD payments, not online payments through a resident website or credit card payments. Your residents having to write paper checks every month, especially if this is one of the only checks they write, results in a cost in convenience as well.

Moreover, using a bank means that payment processing is not integrated with your property management software. Without this integration, transactions can’t be posted to the deposit or resident ledger in real time or validated to ensure the resident is not in eviction. Your staff has to re-enter the data, which risks keying errors and results in more delays.

Keep Your Nickels and Dimes with an Electronic Payments System

A better option for owners and managers is an electronic payment processing system that keeps the needs of multifamily in mind. An electronic payments system that integrates with your property management software means no dual data entry, saving on labor costs and eliminating keying errors that could delay getting your payments processed. Trips to the bank to deposit checks are eliminated as well, saving time and driving costs.

An electronic payment system also streamlines the collection process further by converting ALL items electronically, not only checks and money orders but also cashier checks, travelers’ checks, and business checks. By saving the check images in the payment system you avoid being charged for check copies and eliminate the need to physically store the images either on site or in offsite archives.

You also want an electronic payment system that processes payments for vendors as well as all types of lease status and accelerates the collection process for returned items. By accelerating collections owners can collect up to 10% more of potential bad debt—more money to you, faster.

The ability to offer online payment options such as credit cards, one-time payments, partial payments, and fixed or variable recurring debit payments from checking accounts adds up to more convenience for your residents. Additionally, it frees more time for your staff to concentrate on better occupancy and resident retention. Win, win.

Finally, an electronic payments system typically charges only an origination fee and a return fee for electronic payment processing. Most other services are already included in your costs. So keep those nickels and dimes and dollars in your pocket.

When weighing the options for payment processing, think carefully about what will give you the best combination of efficiency, enhanced customer service and better NOI.


Senior Vice President – Payments, Portals & CSM

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Kimberly has extensive expertise in rules and regulations to maintain compliance in support of the Payments system. She is certified by the National Automated Clearing House Association (NACHA) as an accredited ACH professional. She is also a member of the ACH Marketing Advisory Council Committee for SWACHA (a regional association of NACHA) and on Wells Fargo’s advisory board council. Before joining RealPage, she was the director of operations for RealPage’s payment partner, Select Payment (acquired by Jack Henry and Associates in 2006).

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