Money orders are generally considered safer than personal checks because they are traceable and include fraud protection measures like watermarks. Also, since they’ve already been paid for, they will not bounce. Because of this, many landlords choose to accept money orders as payment for rent. However, whether you can use a money order to pay rent will depend on the policy of the landlord or property management company; each landlord/manager chooses which payment types it will accept.
Below, we detail the pros and cons of using money orders for rent for both tenants and landlords.
Should You Use a Money Order to Pay Rent?
Pros for Tenants
Money orders are widely available; you can purchase them at grocery stores, convenience stores, banks, and other places near you. They are safe to use, and if you keep the receipt, you can also track them after purchase. This means you’ll know whether the money order gets cashed. In case of a dispute with your landlord, you can even request a photocopy of the money order to find out (and prove) who cashed it.
Also, note that while there is usually a small fee for purchasing a money order, the fee may be lower than using online or app-based payment systems. Several places offer fee-free money orders or low-cost money orders.
Note: If you choose to use a money order to pay for your rent, see our related research for details on how to mail a money order.
Cons for Tenants
Money orders can become complicated to use under certain circumstances. If a money order gets lost, you can request a replacement from the issuer, but you will pay additional fees up to about $35 to do so. Additionally, if you make a mistake on a money order, you can’t just scratch it out — you’ll need to cancel it and get a new one.
Should Landlords Accept Money Orders for Rent?
Pros for Landlords
The biggest advantage of money orders for landlords is that they’re safer than personal checks. Since the money order is paid for before the landlord receives it, there’s no concern about receiving a bounced check. As a landlord, you may prefer this payment method, particularly if your tenants have a history of bouncing checks. Money orders also clear within one business day when deposited (as previously reported), while personal checks can take several days.
Cons for Landlords
While money orders will not bounce since they need to be paid upfront, they do require more effort on the part of the tenant, who must visit a money order agent each month to purchase the money order. This can lead to late rent payments if the tenant is unable to go to a bank or store within a few days before the rent is due.
Additionally, money orders can be stolen. In these instances, they are safer than cash, since the landlord and tenant can contact the money order issuer in an attempt to cancel the money order and prevent the thief from cashing it. However, if the money order is stolen and quickly cashed, it can lead to disputes over who is at fault and whether the tenant still owes rent.
There is also a risk that a tenant may send you a fake money order; see our research on what happens if you cash or deposit a money order, including tips to avoid scams.
More Information About Money Orders
For more information about how money orders work, see our money order FAQ.