Why Do I Still Have To Write A Check To Pay My Rent?

Image courtesy of catastrophegirl

Carrying around a checkbook all of the time seems outdated even by the standards of America’s grandmas. Why is it, then, that 70% of people who rent their homes write a check every month to pay the bill? That trend is changing, but very slowly.

Why is that? First, people who don’t have bank accounts are likely to be renters, and they can’t use electronic transfers to pay rent, but could use cash or money orders. The bigger barrier, though, is that landlords aren’t like the banks that hold mortgages: they range from massive property management companies to some dude who rents out his second floor. While it makes sense to collect thousands of rents using an electronic system, that’s a lot less efficient when you only collect rent from a handful of people. A system to receive electronic payments makes less sense for people who are landlords on a micro-scale. On the other hand, there’s no way to pretend that you totally mailed that check and the delay is all the post office’s fault.

Eventually, check-writing will die out as a method of payment. Bloomberg News cites startups like RadPad, which let people who aren’t interested in having a checkbook make an electronic payment, and the company cuts a check to their landlord. It’s quite similar to the services that take online food orders and generate faxes to small restaurants. While person-to-person credit card transactions services like PayPal or Square could work, the transaction fees of, at best, 3% make accepting payments that way an expensive burden.

Why We Still Use Checkbooks to Pay the Rent [Bloomberg News]