In relation to this question about maximum amounts a check can be written for

If I sell something like a car or other expensive item on Craig's List or in the local paper classifieds, am I compelled to accept any form or payment?

Can I refuse cash and demand a bank check? Can I refuse a check and demand cash? Must I disclose what payments I will accept ahead of time to avoid discrimination accusations?

  • 2
    You might want to add a country tag to your question. It may vary by the laws of your locality.
    – JohnFx
    Jun 30 '10 at 19:41
  • 10-4. I am curious about other countries though.
    – MrChrister
    Jun 30 '10 at 20:32
  • @MrChrister Brazil does not allow a business to refuse Brazilian Treasury issued money. Any denomination.
    – Mindwin
    Jan 2 '17 at 12:25

The confusion comes from ambiguity in popular belief -- that businesses are required to accept x_y_x as payment. In reality, a business can state the terms of a transaction to their pleasure. On the other hand, debt is different -- no lender can refuse cash or other legal tender for repayment of debt.

Sometimes, people try to split hairs and argue "Well, if I eat a steak and I owe the restaurant $100, they should have to accept my $100 as tender for the debt of my meal." Not true. The restaurant isn't giving you a line of credit, they're billing you after services rendered, and your payment is due on their terms.

  • Thanks for clearing that up! Now I know not to try to pay that $100 tab in nickels.
    – C. Ross
    Jul 5 '10 at 19:31
  • 1
    Do they have to state the terms up front? If I offer cash in payment for my steak can they decide at that point to refuse cash? Nov 21 '11 at 15:43

I think cash, travelers checks (little iffy about this one: they're legal tender cash equivalents), and money orders are the only ones that you'd be a little weird to not accept. You certainly don't have to accept regular checks, credit cards, or barter.

In the end though, you don't HAVE to accept anything. Accept only small bills, accept only checks from certain banks, accept only the diners card. Your sale, your rules.


When you're selling something through a provider, like Craig's List or newspapers, the only thing that may limit your choices is the provider. They may refuse your post if it's against their rules or the law. But luckily they usually don't limit or enforce certain payment choices.

These private business providers have the right to do so if they want. You don't need to be their customer. They may state their terms for using the service and even refuse service (before any payment is made).

The fun part is that you may do so as well. Just remember to state your terms in your post so the prospective buyers are aware of them. I've found it best to put payment and delivery terms in separate lines so that they are easily noticeable, for example:

Nice victorian handbasket with gold embroidery, only used once. Signed by the original author. Comes with a certificate of authenticity.

No delivery, only cash payments.


I just listened to a podcast on this topic this week, and Satanicpuppy is pretty much correct. If you are interested, here is a link to the podcast on Legal Lad: Can Businesses Refuse to Accept Cash?

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