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Buying Checks Online

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Personal checksMany thanks to everyone who shared their thoughts on the best places to buy checks online (62 comments as of this writing!), sounds like I was right to think that $20 for 50 checks was absurd! It appears that there are plenty of affordable options for buying checks and none of them come close to the 40 cents per check that Bank of America’s printers were asking for.

Buying Checks Online

Despite the votes of confidence for Checks Unlimited, the check printing company that is included in the ValuPak mailings, I wouldn’t order checks through the mail because the post office is not 100% secure. instead, I would order them from the Checks Unlimited website. We can lock our mail boxes but I believe we are the exception to the rule; it’s simply too easy for a thief to drive by your mailbox and steal your mail when you’re at work. I try to avoid using the postal mail system for sensitive transactions, especially when a safer online alternative exists.

Do not order checks from a site that does not encrypt your sensitive information. You can see that a site is encrypted when you see https in the URL and a padlock somewhere on the browser’s status bar. You can click on the lock to find out who is certifying it. Costco, Wal-Mart, and 4checks are secured and verified by VeriSign, ChecksUnlimited is secured and verified by GlobalSign, always confirm that the Certification Authority is one that you trust.

Get the checks shipped to a secure location. Many of you lamented the fact that the post office just dropped the package of personal checks at your front door, where a thief could easily swipe it. If you can, get the checks shipped to you at work. If it’s possible, request a signature guarantee on the package (this may cost extra) so that the package will never be left unattended. If you don’t want to pay the difference or it’s not available, try to talk to your mail carrier beforehand and have him or her hide the package somewhere.

Enter a check number start other than 1. One of the most rudimentary check security features is the check number. Companies used to use the check number as a way of detecting fraud, especially in cases where the company was writing a lot of checks. If the bank knew to expect checks in a certain range, they could detect fraud if strange numbers started appearing. If you wonder why a brand new account starts with checks at 101 or 1001, rather than 1, this is why. I don’t know how important this is anymore but try to continue the check numbers from the last book you had, or start higher.

Double check the data you enter. Many check printers don’t validate the data you enter so make sure you get it right the first time! They are not responsible if you key in your account data incorrectly.

Best Check Vendor Options

The best options appear to be:

  • Checks Unlimited – Checks Unlimited, the company that advertises in those blue Valupak mailings, is one of the biggest check printing companies out there. Their minimum order is for 2 boxes with singles costing $21.90 and duplicates costing $31.90, with a Standard (7-14 days) shipping charge of $5.50. The appeal of Checks Unlimited is in their introductory offers and the multitude of check designs.
  • Use Online Billpay: As long as there’s an address and no immediate need for a check, you can always send a check through online billpay. We pay several of our utility bills this way. With online billpay, the bank mails a check to the payee on your behalf, saving you a check and the postage stamp.
  • Costco Check Printing – Costco also has a minimum order of 2 boxes. A box of singles has 200 checks, duplicates have 150 checks. Two boxes of singles cost $10.59, $8.47 if you’re an executive member, and duplicates cost $11.59, $9.27 for executives. Standard shipping is 7-14 days and is included in the price!
  • Wal-Mart Checks – Wal-Mart’s Classic Blue Secure checks cost $5.96 for a box of singles, $150 checks, plus $2.85 for Standard (10-12 day) shipping. A box of duplicates is only $6.96. If you want one of their Disney designs, the price of singles is only $6.96 and duplicates are $7.96.
  • DIY – Several of you mentioned printing your own checks using check printing software, such as Versacheck. The prices seemed competitive but I don’t know how much I trust printing my own checks.

Final Thoughts

If you’re like me and you use checks infrequently, Wal-Mart is probably the best bet at $5.96+$2.85 S&H for a box of singles. At 150 checks, that’s a personal check about every two days. I go months without writing a check! If you can handle the two-box minimum or you want special designs, then it doesn’t really matter which of the three vendors you choose because they start getting to be about the same. The only downside of Costco is that you’ll need a membership to order checks (they ask you for your membership number as part of the checkout process), which you can get around by finding a friend who has a membership.

Did I miss a better option out there?

(Photo: amanky)

{ 28 comments, please add your thoughts now! }

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28 Responses to “Buying Checks Online”

  1. Anthony Nguyen says:

    It seems like ordering online is a must (or at the least, one of a very few options) when dealing with online banking.

    One of the things I have under my belt is free checks from my off-line bank. I opened an account with about 7 years ago, and they sent me 500 checks. I’ve only gone through about 150 of those checks in 7 years.

    I’m at a point now where I write out 1 check a month, and I wouldn’t do that if I didn’t need to.

  2. Some banks, such as WaMu, offer free checks. You might want to check it out.

    Thanks,
    Nate

  3. Jimmy says:

    The Walmart link doesn’t seem to be working. FYI

  4. thomas says:

    I write maybe 4 checks a year but agreed those prices are outrageous.

  5. Diane says:

    We won’t be getting free checks from WAMU, now that Chase has taken them over… sad to say.

    I’ve ordered checks online for years, as it’s much cheaper than getting them through the bank. I’ve used Checks Unlimited, and several others.

    They will typically give you a special deal for 1st time orders, so I’ve switched companies to get the best deal.

    I now only use a few checks a month. My local water company charges a fee to pay online, so I send them a check and certain fees, picture orders, team orders, etc. at my son’s school require checks. Other than that, I pay everything online or use my debit or credit card (which is paid off every month).

    Checks are mostly a thing of the past – just wish the school would get onboard with debit or credit transactions.

  6. SarahJane says:

    Thanks for figuring this out for me. I’m getting to the bottom of my box. I’m a Costco executive member living in Alaska (shipping costs!) so I’m definitely going with them!

  7. TStrump says:

    I rarely use cheques these days.
    But, when I need them, I go to my bank and ask for temporary cheques.
    You can get them free or for a small charge.
    Email money transfer are also a great option, but for my bank they cost $1.00 – so not the cheapest way to pay.

  8. Jenni says:

    I get them from a stationary company, that I have done for years. I haven’t had any problems.
    Thanks for the information on buying online, I haven’t done much of it, since I hear the not so good experiences that people have had. And I found a place from one of the thrift blogs I subscribe my email to, and they have recycled paper ones. Since I am striving to live to leave the earth a better place for the future generations, I plan to take that route.

  9. eric says:

    I knew I bookmarked this for a reason…I have my once-in-a-lifetime need to order checks right now. :D

  10. Tammy says:

    I have purchased my checks online from Promise Checks. Never had any problems and their checks are as low as $3.95 per box.

  11. Amanda says:

    This article was really helpful (even over a year later!). I used checks unlimited and I googled a promotion code (v374), so I purchased 2 boxes of duplicate checks for $13.00. Although shipping was free, it was untracked through USPS and trackable UPS shipping was $7.95, so I decided to with free USPS shipping and added the EZ Shield protection for fraud and theft for only $1.95 a box… essentially covering any potential doom that may occur in delivering them as well as any problems in the future with use… This seemed like the best option. Can’t wait to get my brand new checks!

  12. Roger says:

    I would stay away from Checks Unlimited. They bait and switch the price. They are slow to deliver and make too many mistakes. The quality level of the checks is the worst I have ever seen.

  13. Wolf Tinker says:

    I would stay away from Checks Unlimited as well. I just received my checks and the design is so faint that on some checks it’s almost invisible. I only paid $5.95 because of a promotion, but it took the checks a month to get here and now who knows how long now to fix the problem? I am counting this as a not so costly lesson learned and am going elsewhere.

  14. HardData says:

    Checks unlimited has so many bad reviews and complaints about them, I’m wondering what people who praise them get out of that. Anyone looking at any other review sites would run the other way, and never trust Checks Unlimited.

  15. Kim says:

    I agree w/ HardData, Wolf Tinker, and Roger about Checks Unlimited. Have used them for last 14 years because they’re less expensive than my bank’s checks BUT it always irks me how they add almost $3 handling fee per box of checks and charge exorbitant shipping fees unless you want delivery in 6+ weeks. I can’t think of another company that still takes 6-8 weeks for ship and handling! Anyone has any thoughts on VistaPrint?

  16. Ken says:

    Walmart shipping/handling charge is $15.00, making 4 boxes of checks over $40.00!

  17. Walt says:

    Last time I ordered checks through BB&T (goes to Harlan …) I paid maybe $15 for three boxes. Last night just over $50 plus just over $50 handling/shipping. Free checking isn’t that free, anymore.

    But it hasn’t really been free for quite a while: Most checks are mailed at $0.44/check so a year’s 200 checks really cost us over $100.

    Seems to me the paper and ink isn’t my problem and over the life of this check order I need to phase over to paying most bills online. Those who are using just a couple of checks/month can pretty well forget the cost to buy them.

  18. Walt says:

    Having just paid $50 plus another $50 for sh/h for three boxes I’m newly appreciating the cost of checks.

    But free checking hasn’t really been free for a while; most checks are ‘in the mail’ so they cost $0.44 anyhow. Our 200 or so checks/year are actually costing us over $0.50 each.

    I hate the thought of doing it online: As important as it is I don’t trust the ‘net so much that I want more eggs in that basket. (It depends on both electricity and thousands of computers plus the U.S. government and the UN both want to control it.)

    I donno. Think I’ll stay with paper for a while longer — but find a cheaper place to buy the next batch.

  19. janet halverson says:

    I was shocked at the cost of checks, at least thru b of a. I cannot complain about them any other way at this point, because I had US Bank prior to this and this is a breath of fresh air in comparison!

  20. chris says:

    Theres no way that you can beat Bradford exchange. boxes are only 120 a box and two for one allows them to be cheaper then anyone. with free shipping

  21. Rosa says:

    I agree with Chris, Bradford Exchange was the most reasonable, I priced Styles checks which gave only 100 checks per box and nothing else, I priced Walmart, Checks Unlimited, Carousel Checks and all were a lot more expensive. The only one that came close was Walmart, but there shipping and handling per box made them more expensive. I got 4 boxes of checks at Bradford for $28.78 (handling and everything included), and I am getting 150 checks per box with deposit slips and registers. A lot of the other sites charge you for the deposit slips and registers.

    • Colleen says:

      After seeing the prices on Checks Unlimited and Designer Checks (which turned out to be the same company), I decided to look elsewhere and came across these comments. So glad I did!! Thanks for the “heads-up” on Bradford Exchange. Considerably cheaper!!

  22. Lyle says:

    Beware of Costco checks – the preview you see online when you order is NOT what you get. If it matters to you exactly where/how your company name and address appear on the check, you’ll be disappointed.

  23. Earl says:

    I just received my checks I ordered from Harland Clarke. Each pad now has only 24 checks instead of 25! How cheap can they be. I paid $38 for 120 checks. I can remember when I got 150 checks in a box. Just like the 1/2 gallon ice cream containers that now hold 1- 1/2 quarts. I won’t be ordering from Harland Clarke anymore. You have to be careful ordering checks from the mailers. I had a friend who ordered checks from them and two weeks later her account was flooded with forged checks. One of the “honest” employees made a few extra checks for their own use. All a person can do is be as careful as you can.

  24. Ann Simms says:

    I know how you feel Ken! “Walmart shipping/handling charge is $15.00, making 4 boxes of checks over $40.00!”

    I may be a little bias, but I order my checks from CCP cheap checks plus. Great on shipping, custom designs, and they give out their checks for next to nothing.

    IMO, they can’t be beat.


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