Despite the fact that digital payment forms have steadily taken over the vast majority of transactions in recent years, paper checks still reign supreme when it comes to paying monthly rent. In fact, 78% of renters pay their rent the old-fashioned way. But did you know that it’s not the only way to pay rent?
Whether you're a first-time renter or looking for a more convenient way to pay rent, we’ll guide you through all the different payment options and explain the pros and cons of each method. And no matter which payment option you choose, remember to always pay on time.
5 Different Ways To Pay Rent
1. Check in the mail
If you have a stack of checks at home, writing and mailing one is probably no big deal for you. Luckily, there’s no fee associated with it except for the cost of a stamp. But, be aware that when you mail a check, it can take several days to a week to reach your landlord. And if you want to make sure it gets to them, you’ll need to keep a close eye on it.
Traditionally paying rent by check can also increase the risk of check fraud, which has been soaring nationwide. The last thing you want is for your check to get stolen and for someone else to change the amount, ferreting the funds directly out of your bank account. If you absolutely must send a check, avoid financial mishaps by shipping it through UPS or FedEx so you have a tracking number to ensure it arrives. For landlords, checks aren’t the most ideal because there’s no way for them to know for sure if it will bounce. If your check bounces or if you need to cancel it for any reason, you’ll be stuck paying a bank fee.
Paying by check also means your landlord will need to deposit it, forcing them to drive to a bank, wait in line to process it, and then wait another 1-3 business days for it to clear. With so many alternatives on the rise for how to pay rent, before you know it, checks will become obsolete.
2. Money order or cashier’s check
Although personal checks may seem convenient, using your checkbook is not as reliable as using a money order or a cashier’s check. Both of these payment forms guarantee you have sufficient funds to pay. But the trade off is that in order to get a money order or a cashier’s check, you must go into a bank.
Each of these widely accepted payment forms must include your landlord’s name on it and the issuer's information—and there’s a good reason for it. Even though you need to physically be present to collect it, your landlord is the only one who can cash it, making it a very secure payment method.
While the amount for a money order or cashier’s check must be prepaid so it doesn’t bounce or fail upon deposit, you have to pay a fee for requesting one. It’s worth noting however, that some places will charge a smaller fee than banks. If you want to find the most cost-effective option, check with your local grocery stores, pharmacies, convenience stores, and USPS to see how much it will cost.
3. Peer-to-Peer payment platforms
The great thing about peer-to-peer (P2P) payment services is that they enable you to send and receive money from anywhere at any time. Providers like Zelle, Venmo, Cash App, and PayPal facilitate quick and secure money transfers, and encrypt every transaction to ensure every payment is transferred safely.
However, because rent payments are classified as business transactions they typically come with a fee. For example: Venmo has a 3% processing fee, Cash App has a 0.5% -1.75% fee, and Paypal’s fee is 2.9% when you pay with a debit or credit card, but 0% if you pay directly from your bank account. Zelle, on the other hand, has no fee but your bank may have fees and transaction limits when receiving payments. Not every P2P payment platform has a feature to automate payments either.
These platforms can also be problematic if you pay the wrong person by accident. Although P2P systems often favor the sender in disputes, you could still end up losing money if something goes wrong.
Lastly, both you and your landlord need to have the same P2P app in order to accept payment. And P2P platforms often come with limited financial protection for landlords, along with tax and legal implications, so don’t be surprised if your landlord is opposed to using them.
In some cases, your landlord will accept rent payments in cash. Paying rent with cash means you don’t have to rely on digital platforms or online accounts or worry about bank fees.
While cash provides instant confirmation of payment, meeting up with your landlord to give it to them isn’t the most practical. Paying with cash also makes it easy for you and your landlord to lose it, making payments that much harder to track. On top of being inefficient for landlords, collecting a large lump sum of cash is a huge risk and liability for them.
Since you don’t have a paper trail to trace it, there’s a chance your landlord may forget who the payment actually came from whereas other forms of payment contain information about the sender. Without a payment record, like a dated receipt, your landlord can claim you never paid. Worse, if your landlord doesn’t count it correctly, you could even end up paying some or all of it again.
5. Online payment platforms
If you’re looking for an alternative and safe way to pay your monthly rent with minimal processing fees, consider using an online payment platform. When you opt for payment via credit card or ACH transfer, you benefit from a secure transaction record in case you need to show proof of payment or need it when it’s time to file taxes.
Unlike the other rent payment methods, the advantage of an online payment platform is that some are free and setting up an account is easy. All you need to do is connect your banking details or link a credit or debit card to start the process. Most platforms also have an autopay or reminder notification feature so you never miss a payment or incur late fees.
As far as the downsides to online payment platforms, technical difficulties are always a possibility. You also have to carefully monitor your accounts when relying on autopay to ensure you consistently have funds available and to avoid overdraft fees. When compared with paper checks and other manual forms of payment, online payment platforms are perfect for renters looking for easy, secure ways to pay their rent.
RentSpree's Rent Payment solution makes paying rent simple and convenient
Ultimately, you need to choose a payment method that makes the most sense for your financial situation. While you have multiple ways to pay your rent, choosing an online rent platform is a safe choice.
RentSpree offers a secure online rent payment platform that you can use to pay your rent and so much more. With RentSpree, rent payments are hassle-free and you can safely link your bank accounts or use your credit or debit cards to make payments.
Ready to start paying rent through RentSpree? Sign up today.