Plenty of stocks pay dividends, typically on a quarterly basis. But if you rely on dividends to supplement your income, getting a check once a quarter may not be enough. Here are three stocks that cut you a check each month.

Realty Income

Realty Income (O 0.39%) is the most recognizable name in the monthly dividend space, considering that it's trademarked the name "The Monthly Dividend Company." The retail-focused real estate investment trust (REIT) has paid a dividend each month since it was founded in 1969. Since going public in 1994, it's recorded 109 dividend increases, earning it Dividend Aristocrat status, with a compound average annual dividend growth of 4.4%. It currently yields 4.51%, which is average for a REIT.

A monthly calendar with the 15th circled in red.

Image source: Getty Images.

Although retail REITs have struggled as tenants fell behind on rent and closed up shop, Realty Income has been less affected because its tenants tend to be essential businesses, like dollar stores, pharmacies, and grocery businesses. Its three largest tenants by annualized contractual revenue are Walgreens Boots Alliance, 7-Eleven, and Dollar General. During the fourth quarter of 2020, Realty Income reported it collected 93.6% of contractual rent due, with clients in the theater industry accounting for 80% of unpaid rents. Realty Income tends to be especially stable because it's a triple-net company, which means tenants pay for taxes, insurance, and maintenance.

STAG Industrial

Another REIT that's been relatively insulated from the pandemic is STAG Industrial (STAG -1.44%), a triple-net company that focuses on single-tenant industrial properties. Its portfolio primarily comprises warehouses and distribution buildings, which have fared much better compared to other types of commercial real estate, like retail and office space. STAG management reported during its fourth-quarter earnings call that 99.6% of billed rents were collected in 2020.

The current dividend yield is 4.57%. Its shares are down about 0.5% year over year, but its diversification makes it appealing as a low-risk investment. Its portfolio spans 60 geographic markets and 45 industries. Its largest tenant is Amazon, but it accounts for less than 4% of annual base rent (ABR). The company is also positioned to benefit from shifts in shopping habits given that 40% of its portfolio handles e-commerce activity. 

Invesco S&P 500 High Dividend Low Volatility ETF

The final pick for investors seeking monthly dividends is an exchange-traded fund (ETF), not a stock. The Invesco S&P 500 High Dividend Low Volatility ETF (SPHD 0.01%) takes the 75 highest-yielding stocks on the S&P 500 index and removes the 25 most volatile to get its 50 holdings. The fund has a 4.79% 12-month yield and an expense ratio of 0.3%. Its holdings are mostly concentrated in financials, utilities, and basic materials.

Should you buy a stock for the monthly dividend?

The appeal of monthly dividend payments is obvious, particularly for seniors who need to supplement their incomes. But investors should avoid buying a stock simply because the payment is monthly versus quarterly.

A good dividend stock is one with a relatively low payout ratio, which suggests the dividend is sustainable. Also look for stocks with a history of dividend increases, even during recessions, and stable revenue and earnings growth. Focusing on these criteria will maximize your dividend income, regardless of whether you get your payments monthly or quarterly.