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Your Take: Do You Use Personal Checks?

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CheckbookFifteen years ago, you had two options when it came to paying someone else – cash or personal check. Nowadays, you have a dozen different ways with new methods popping up each year. I, for one, am ecstatic we’re moving away from personal checks. I very rarely use personal checks and it’s usually at the request of the person I’m paying. I’m not a fan of personal checks because personal checks are not secure.

They have almost all the information someones needs to steal your identity (name, address, bank, bank account number, and your signature). I’m not an identity thief so I don’t even know the full extent of the shenanigans you can pull with just that information… but I imagine you could do some serious damage. The only time I use checks is when I’m paying back a friend for something, like for social sports leagues, and even then it’s only if they want it as a check (they’re doing me the favor, so I’ll pay however they want).

As for taking personal checks, I don’t take personal checks unless it’s from some I know. I have no desire to verify a personal check and I definitely don’t want to get dinged the fees for bounced checks.

Do you use personal checks? What’s your feeling towards them?

(Photo: potteryandeverythingelse)

{ 63 comments, please add your thoughts now! }

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63 Responses to “Your Take: Do You Use Personal Checks?”

  1. govenar says:

    I only use checks to pay rent.

  2. Marilyn says:

    Very rarely. I didn’t foresee myself doing away with checks so quickly. My old bank charged fees for online bill pay and it was much higher than the cost of a stamp plus the cost of a check. However with time I’ve found that I use my debit card for most transactions. I typically pay my American Express bill with a check (I think I can trust them). As I’ve gotten into more online banking, I’ve seen that it’s much faster and easier to pay online. I have only my free checks for my current online account and I haven’t touched them in months.

  3. elloo says:

    It’s amazing how many I used to write per month not that many years ago and how few I write now per year! I only write checks to the trustworthy local guy who cuts my lawn and plows my driveway. I just did a home loan refinance and wrote a check to my attorney. That’s about it. I have lots of checks that should last until my demise! Yes, personal checks are not secure eventhough I don’t have my home address on them.

  4. Guy In San Antonio says:

    My bank declines debit card transactions if the account is depleted even though I have a line of credit. My wife is old school and feels embarrassed so she would prefer just to write a check, which, even if the convert it to electronic at point of purchase, clears the account just fine.

    Believe it or not, but in San Antonio, there are restaurants that only take checks or cash. So one more reason!

    When it comes down to it, i need to be able to writ a check a few times a month.

  5. Yana says:

    I rarely write checks, but need them for those times that I do. I just wrote 2 checks to pay taxes, and the 3 before that were to reimburse someone for shopping out of town for me and 2 membership affiliations. I used to write a check for the rent when we paid an on-site manager, but now we pay a property management company many miles away – so I now do that via online banking, just like I do with other bills.

  6. John says:

    Our yard guy prefers a check and that’s fine with us because we’ve known him for 6 years. He used to take cash but for some reason takes checks now. I think it’s because his wife handles the business finances and maybe the cash wasn’t making it home. Just kidding.

    We also use a check to pay our tithing to our church and they also prefer it.

    I guess if my yard guy and my church had swipe machines, we could use our Debit or Credit Card.

    97% of everything else gets paid directly from our bank account.

    As far as accepting checks, only from those I know very well. Even then you may be taking a chance.

  7. Rob O. says:

    We use BoA billpay for nearly all of our monthly expenses and lean heavily upon our Citi Dividends credit card for as much of everything else as we can to rack up the cashback earnings.

    We save -every- credit card receipt and review them with the statement to ensure that there were no goofs -before- paying the bill. (We never, ever carry a credit card balance.)

    But I still prefer checks to debit card. Debit card spending is harder to account for and, since it’s immediate, saving receipts to verify later isn’t mearly as effective as with credit cards.

    For the record, a book of checks easily lasts us 18-24 months.

    Another thing I like about checks – and this is especially with my pre-K son in mind – is that writing checks and keeping up with the register is a much more tangible form of spending. Debit cards are too abstract, too easy. They make overspending very, very easy. (Wonder why the banks love giving them out for free?) I think a checking account might be a better way to teach kids about finances once they’re past the point where a few dollars (yeah, actual currency!) will do the trick routinely.

    • Marilyn says:

      “Debit cards are too abstract, too easy. They make overspending very, very easy.”

      I’ve always agreed with this. Once I got my first ATM card, I quickly found myself spending through my money for an evening out and then going to an ATM for more money. We’ve all done that. In fact, I wonder how much 24/7 access to bank accounts play a role in decimating American savings rates.

      At times when money was especially tight, I started leaving the card at home and drastically cut my spending.

  8. Caleb says:

    I like this post!

    I have been working in banking for awhile now, and its really amazing to see how many people use checks for EVERYTHING. Lets not forget that most of these people are well into their 50s or 60s and to them its “secure” because they wrote it. Checks aren’t going anywhere for a while, I spend all day everyday looking at checks.

    I write checks from a specific “Debt Payment” checking account, and I have encountered no problems. Plus, because this is only for paying debt payments, the money comes in and goes right back out, no one can access all my cash if they stole my information off a check.

  9. Strebkr says:

    My wife used to never write checks, but now that we have kids, the babysitter gets paid once a week by check.

  10. NCN says:

    One more quick note – We were ordered checks years ago from our bank, “SouthTrust”. Eventually, SouthTrust was purchased by Wachovia, which was eventually purchased by Wells Fargo. So, we are writing checks from a bank that not only no longer exists, but the bank that bought that bank no longer exists… They still go through, however.

  11. zapeta says:

    I write about 20 checks a year. I write one each month for rent and the others go to occasional other expenses that pop up and that I can’t pay with credit card.

    • Strebkr says:

      It would be great if they printed checks that counted as purchases on your credit card. They would be just like the checks you get with your statement that practically beg you to write a check from your credit. Except these checks would have no fee attached to them. Maybe if they put a limit on them of a few hundred bucks banks might allow it.

      Probably not, but its a ‘way out there’ idea.

  12. eric says:

    I use them to set up direct deposit and stuff if they need a voided check. Otherwise, not much.

  13. Glenn Lasher says:

    I don’t use them very much.

    I use my bank’s electronic bill payment system for my bills, and a debit card for most other transactions. I will use a cheque when I find a situation where neither of these are feasible (i.e. must be paid at the moment, but doesn’t take credit cards) and when cash is not an option or would be awkward.


    My tax preparer does not take credit/debit cards. I write them a cheque because it’s easier than stopping at an ATM to get that much cash.

    The contractor I use to do work around my house is the same story.

    My workplace has a discount movie pass program that can only be paid for by cheque because the company has no interest in setting up a credit card account and wants to avoid the issues with taking cash.

  14. danna says:

    I read through the comments and only one person mentioned cashier checks. I use a money order to pay my rent. It only cost $.99 and my landlord doesn’t seem to mind. I make a copy of it and keep it in a file. I am not going to buy a box of checks just to pay rent. I purchase it at my local grocery store. Not a big deal at all.

    • Strebkr says:

      So let me understand, you are paying .99c a month to pay your rent. Or $12 a year. Why not just spend the $12 to order a box of basic checks then you are home free for the next 150 months or so. You could save some time and money with that. Just a suggestion?

    • danna2inTX says:

      Danna (we both spell our name the same–how cool–you’re the 3rd one I’ve seen in my 40+ years of life)…anywho I agree with the cashiers checks. They are cheaper. I even pay for summer camps that way, the only place I run into trouble are school extracurriculars. If I don’t have cash I have to remember to get a cashiers check. I’ve recently decided to get one box just for writing checks to the school.

  15. Master Allan says:

    Back in 2005 or 2006 one of those check order companies I used in the past sent me a reorder reminder by e-mail with the following note:

    “Americans aren’t as plastic as you might think, 70% of all transactions were with paper”.
    A year later nearly the same message:
    “Americans aren’t as plastic as you might think, 60% of all……”

    Wonder what it is today, their business model is fading away.

  16. otipoby says:

    Great post. I need to re-order checks. Are their any competitors to Harland that anyone recommends?

  17. James says:

    I still use checks for charitable donations. Do credit card companies waive transaction fees for charities? I rather have 100% go to the charity and not have 2-3% skimmed off the top.

  18. Marilyn says:

    I thought of one reason to keep them around: starting direct deposit. While it should be enough for me to provide my numbers to a new employer, they always want a voided check attached to the direct deposit form. The nature of my financial existence is that I am employed by more than one company at a time and I recently relocated so I’ve actually used two checks for exactly this purpose in the last several months.

    Employers, banks: can we got on to not using voided checks for direct deposit? Just take the numbers!

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