Just what the headline says: buy land with credit card. I think it was purely luck. But now I’m wondering if I could do it again.
I paid with my Bank of America Customized Cash card, had my bonus category set to “online shopping,” paid through PayPal and earned full + bonus rewards for the purchase.
I’ve been trolling eBay looking for other parcels. So far, I haven’t found anything as sweet as the one I bought, but there have been a couple where I came close.
Questions I immediately had were:
- Is this legit?
- They’re selling the crappiest lots, right?
- There could be soooo many issues with the land, the title, the neighbors, access, easements…….
Here’s what I’ve discovered so far.
Buy land with credit card? Apparently yes!
I fell into the rabbit-iest of holes one night on eBay of all places. For whatever reason, I was thinking about how you could buy a whole house in Detroit for beans in the middle of the financial crisis.
Wondered if that was still a possibility.
Turns out, it is. There are houses and plots of land at all price points, starting from literally $1 with no reserve to “buy it now” offers to huge $500,000 tracts to yep, some totally shady stuff.
I learned how to cross-check and research using county tax assessor property records, Google Earth, and sales history. This is exactly the kind of research-driven thing I love.
There are a lot of pitfalls and things to watch for—there are also some real diamonds in the rough out there.
Once I found and researched the parcel, I noticed the seller accepted PayPal as a payment method, which got me thinking… could I really use a credit card to buy that plot?
I figured if I could try it for $300ish, I could pay it off right away if it codes as a cash-like purchase or similar. And if not, then yay! I have a piece of land and some added rewards.
Sale ends, credit card comes out
So I won the auction. The PayPal option popped up. I typed in the info and waited for the purchase to post.
Not only did it code as an online purchase, but I also got my Preferred Rewards for being a Bank of America Platinum Honors customer. The limit is $1,500 in all combined bonus categories per quarter, so this purchase put me right up to the edge for Q3. I earned 5.25% cashback.
I kinda can’t believe it worked. Then I thought… what else is out there?
What I check
So I literally don’t care what the land I bought actually looks like (I am going soon to check it out in person, though.)
At the price I bought it, I consider it the tuition for learning about this stuff. Some of the parcels for sale are genuinely valuable and desirable. I see many auctions with anywhere from 20 to over 100 bidders. I’m thinking exclusively long-term with this.
The immediate issues are easements and access. If there’s not a road (dirt, gravel, paved, or otherwise) in front of the plot, that means you’ll have to cross someone else’s land to get to yours. An easement may be recorded with the deed to address this issue, but for raw, vacant land—probably not.
I don’t want to deal with issues of easement or access, so I avoid those. Although I can see the value in them: Maybe 20 years from now, someone will buy you out to expand their own property.
I verify the parcel with the local government records, then check it on a variety of terrain maps. If there’s a road, it’s usually visible on one of these. It’s a good sign if you can see homes nearby. That means there’s probably electric service available and maybe a sewer system.
If all you want is raw land, this doesn’t matter. But if you think you want to build, that’s good info to have.
What else I check
It’s also important to check the sales history as much as you can to see if anything looks wonky in the chain of title. Of course you can never really know without paying a title company and/or buying title insurance—and I would for an expensive plot—but if all the exchanges have been through warranty deed with clean sales and the taxes are paid current (which you can also check on the county tax assessor’s site), you can be reasonably assured there aren’t liens on the property.
You can also check the circuit clerk’s office by typing the previous owners’ names and seeing if there are any claims against them.
It really doesn’t take that long, and I find it all really interesting. I check everything on the county tax map, then dig in more if I have interest.
I also check the terrain. Is it near a body of water? Is it fully wooded? What’s nearby? How close is it to… stuff?
You can type any address into FEMA’s flood maps to see if flooding is an issue. If it is, know that flood insurance is expensive if you ever want to build. If you just want it for hunting or camping, then it’s whatever. But something to be aware of, anyway.
Why I’m interested in this
Long-term, the value of most land will rise. I do NOT think of this as an investment. Not for me, anyway. Maybe for my kids—or their kids. In my lifetime, these plots probably won’t do diddly.
It’s something I want for myself because I think it’s neat. But I’m really hoping it will one day be something nice for the next generation(s).
I’m also thinking about climate change. I will not buy anything in the desert Southwest, California, most of the Southeast, and definitely not Florida or anywhere coastal.
Instead, I think north and toward the middle is the way to go: Michigan, Wisconsin, Western New York, Minnesota. They are prime to withstand rising temperatures, and all have access to fresh water. Wildfires, earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes are generally not a problem in these places. Will people flock there in 20 years? Maybe, maybe not. 50? Probably. 100? Definitely.
It’s already hot AF in Oklahoma pretty much every day. Hot, dry places will get hotter and drier—and more unlivable.
Also, it’s just kinda cool to have your own land. A place you can just have to enjoy. Use it for a little cabin, a tiny house, a campsite… whatever. It’s good to have options.
I’m also secretly hoping someone will buy me out to get me out of the way, the local government will claim eminent domain, or a phone company will lease it for a cell phone tower or something. And if not—I’ll just have and keep it.
Thinking about how to buy land with credit card
So then this got me thinking… if I can buy land with a credit card, then…
- I can use a 0% APR to self-finance a nice parcel (I wouldn’t now, but in theory… later on)
- Or just float the purchase with the card’s usual grace period
- Meet minimum spending
- Earn rewards, meet spending thresholds, or take advantage of promos (esp. with the PayPal option)
So far, I’ve only bought the one lot online. I looked at others. But I wanna check it out and give it time to settle before I get anything else.
I thought this was cool and unusual and wanted to share. Lots of people have interest in owning land, and buying land with a credit card is another path to that.
I must mention the usual disclaimers about paying your card in full, not purchasing beyond your means, and point out that this is based on a sample size of one, so YMMV.
My parcel cost $228, but has consistently appraised for $1,000 for several years:
Not as if that means much. Will it go up in value? Go down? Who knows.
I’m gonna start small, gather ideas, and go from there. I’m in my frog-kissing phase now. Maybe I’ll find a land prince soon.
Has anyone out there bought land with a credit card before? Are there any big pitfalls to consider? Will you look into this?* If you liked this post, consider signing up to receive free blog posts in an RSS reader and you’ll never miss an update!
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