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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)

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

  1. dancing monkey says:

    With the help of BoA billpay for nearly all of my expenses (even rent) I managed to stretch the free checks I got with my account for nearly 8 years. Then, I bought a house and had tons of one-off expenses — things like payments to city/state agencies I wanted to be sure were arrived with the slip.

    Combine that with a ton of wedding gifts in the form of checks, and I am really really glad to discover that Charles Schwab high-interest checking offers free checks. (Plus awesome benefits for international transactions — saved us a ton in fees for overseas trips.)

  2. Jon says:

    The only thing worse than having to write a check, is getting one. Not enough banks allow you to scan checks for deposit, and even that’s a pain.

    I wish ACH transfers became more popular. I use ING’s “person to person” when I can, but even that has extra steps with the email confirmation (which I fake out and then email a copy of the “receipt” if needed).

    In the future, maybe more businesses will offer ACH payment discounts, and more banks will have a simplified ACH payment system.

    What could be more efficient than directly injecting a payment from your interest bearing account directly into a business’s account?

    I’d have no problem giving out my ACH ABA and account number and letting people directly inject money into my account.

  3. Strebkr says:

    I have a set of check books from when I was 16. I am now 29. Chase bought Bank One way back in the day, but all my checks still have my parents address from high school, and the Bank One logo on them. I still have plenty to go so I might hit 35 or 40 before I run out of paper checks.

    I, along with Jim, am not sorry to see the checks go away.

  4. Ryan says:

    I want to get away from personal checks but I wonder how I will pay for items like taxes to my county. How would I send the check with the remittance without a personal check? There are very few expenses that come up every year like this but they are the only reason I keep personal checks. I want to be sure my remittance and check are sent together. Has anyone found a solution to this?

    • Shirley says:

      My CU online bill pay has a memo line where I can write the account number and/or date the payment is for. Would that help you?

    • If you want to totally do away with the checkbook… since that is a planned expense, you would have time to go to your bank/credit union and get a cashier’s check. Sure, it’s one extra step, but is a way to avoid having personal checks.

  5. Shirley says:

    I use personal checks only when payment is required immediately, credit card and debit card are not an option, and I don’t have the cash on hand.

    • billsnider says:

      I almost agree.

      I will still use checks to minimize using the cash in my pockets sometimes if it is a large amount.

      Also I will write a check when I want a receipt for a tax deductible item.

      Bill snider

  6. lostAnnfound says:

    we get free check through our CU and order once a year, maybe even less. There are still a few things we use checks for. Hairdresser for the girls & I is a small local person we have been seeing for over 10 years, cash or check only. Kids’ fundraisers, class dues, dance tickets, etc., although the middle school (when the last child was there a couple years ago) only took cash or bank check when collecting for the end of year D.C. trip. Birthday/Christmas time for niece & nephew who live 1,300 miles away. The majority of everything is else is debit or online bill paying.

  7. Dean says:

    I write like two checks in a whole year. My wife writes like 12. We are almost out of checks from the order we placed when we got married 12 years ago, so the time is near to make a decision on ordering more.

    We recently bought a used car from a small dealer, and paid in full with a check. He actually didn’t want a cashiers or certified check (too much fraud), and didn’t want a credit card for that large a transaction. Walking in with that much in cash seemed risky too. Paying with online bill pay would have required either paying before or after the transaction, leaving one party or the other unprotected. With a check, he would simply release the title once the check cleared.

    He actually preferred a check, and I couldn’t think of any better way around it.

    Checks have certainly assumed a reduced role in our financial toolbox, but it’ll be awhile before they’re completely eliminated.

  8. SoonerNATX says:

    i agree…

    however, not really sure why you have to black out the check number to feel safe? (assuming you blacked everything else out)

  9. cubiclegeoff says:

    I pay my mortgage by check because they have ridiculous fees for paying online. I also pay day care and condo fee by check (I don’t trust either to have my bank account info) and occasionally other expenses come up that I can’t use credit card for or can’t pay online. I’d rather not use a check, but I often have no choice.

    • Shirley says:

      I’m wondering:
      - Isn’t paying by online Bill Pay check considered the same as a personal check?
      - Doesn’t paying by personal check give the day care/condo your bank account info?

  10. tom says:

    Rarely…

    Only if the place of business doesn’t accept any other form of payment and is trusted. My dog’s kennel only accepts cash and check. I trust the lady who runs it, so I have no problem paying in check.

    Although… some of my online bill payments are in check form… not sure about the security of those.

  11. I try to avoid using personal checks whenever possible, but sometimes it does certainly make things easier to just pull out the old checkbook.

    I write them for church offerings, service calls (plumber, electrician, etc.), and other misc. payments to friends (like you mentioned). I really prefer to use my rewards credit card for any purchases, but sometimes it’s just a lot easier to write a check.

  12. Anonymous says:

    These days I pretty much only use checks for paying my rent. I guess I could even stop doing that–several of my accounts will mail a check for me free of charge (and supposedly without my account info).

  13. BrianC says:

    Other than rent, I rarely use checks. ING will mail someone a check for you–so that’s definitely one way to go. Can anyone confirm if they leave off your account information?

    • I can’t say this for sure, but I don’t see how they could leave off account info… if it is a physical check, eventually it has to go to a bank, and that bank will need a routing number and account number.

      To the best of my understanding, those checks are just like writing a personal check, except that they do it all for you, including mailing.

  14. billsnider says:

    I use checks when appropriate. It is one of my many options to pay a bill or to give a gift.

    I do’t agree that this poses a major identity route to my accounts. I believe they are fairly secure.

    Bill Snider

  15. daenyll says:

    The only thing I regularly pay with a check is my rent, as I’m not happy with the extra fee for credit payment and at my last apartment they “lost” my check sent from ING’s online checking and I had to go thru hoops to prove they’d cashed it. Now I just prefer to actually physically hand them the check so I can see who to point the finger at if it gets “lost” again.

    • Can you get them to give you some type of receipt? That would help to take the proof another step.

      • daenyll says:

        The problem was that the ING was a physical check sent to them, and even though the rent company received it, I was not aware of when it arrived. The company didn’t actually credit me for paying that month until I printed out the redeemed check image off ING with proof that the company had cashed that check and I had not been late on the payment. Thus now I write a check from my brick and mortar account and actually hand it to someone and do get a receipt.

  16. Alan says:

    I HATE checks with a passion but I am forced to keep them around for archaic utilities companies who still doesn’t have a online payment system set up. My water bill for instance charges a $2.50 fee to use their online payments. That’s 10% extra for each water bill I have to pay.

    Some other random companies out there only accepts personal checks as well, so I have to keep them around for their sake. These companies needs to get with the program already.

    • Shirley says:

      Online Bill Pay sent from your checking account directly to the water bill recipient would/should not be considered an online payment that garners an extra fee. They don’t much care where the paper check comes from, just that it does come. Our water bill is like yours too, but I can pay it that way without the fee.

      I would love to see them get with the program so I could use my cc for cashback bonus like all my other utilities.

    • Another Allan says:

      Oh but they do charge!

      My former electric company in Colorado, Xcel Energy, charges a $4.85 convenience fee for online transactions by credit or debit. Well, it’s not them, it is there “service provider”.

      I’ll just mail in a check……to your HQ in Wisconsin, Minnesota, or whereever.

  17. Sarah in Alaska says:

    Things paid by check: Rent, Phone (no, I can’t pay online, it’s a small company whose website crashes every time I use it.), Tithe to church, friends/family as needed.

    I also used a personal check to buy a new car.

  18. IPA says:

    We don’t use too many checks as we try and pay everything with our Visa debit card. We do write two checks a month to our day care provider any other checks I send through our CU bill pay.

  19. PigPennies says:

    I almost never use checks unless I absolutely have to. There are a few bills we get from small organizations that do not take cards of any sort. I also wrote a couple of checks to Lowes when I was doing some work on my home. I was spending large amounts of money and my debit card kept getting declined because I’d reached the spend limit, so I’d have to write a check and have the cashier call to verify funds.

    One cashier gave me attitude because the check number was something like 236. She asked how long I’d had the account, and I told her since my parents opened it for me when I was 13 years old. She didn’t believe me since the check number was “so low”. I told her I was surprised I’d written even that many checks over the past decade!

  20. freeby50 says:

    WE use personal checks only a little bit. Most everything is automatic payment of some form. I think about the only time we use a check is if we’re hiring someone to come to the house and do work, like the guy that cleans gutters or a repairman. They seem to want a check rather than credit/debit cards.

    Our HSA has checks and we have one medical provider that doesn’t take cards so we have to pay them with a check.

  21. Diane says:

    Not if I can help it! I pay most things with debit card, credit card or online.

    I only use checks for a few things where I cannot use one of those payment methods – mostly club dues & 1 monthly bill.

    Up until now there were small school expenses (fees, tshirt orders, school supplies) which required checks, but with my youngest in college that has ended – YAY~!

  22. Dolores says:

    I rarely use them. I think there are only 2 accounts I write them to on a monthly basis and that’s because there’s no other way I can pay them.

    I really like being able to pay most bills on line.

  23. NCN says:

    We write three or four a month, mainly to pay for visits to the doctor or to pay the babysitter. Other than that, it’s debit cards, online bill pay, and good-old-cash.

    Once or twice, I’ve used ING “pay a person” feature to send something to an individual.
    -NCN

  24. krantcents says:

    I use personal checks very rarely. My wife will pay her hair stylist or nail person by check. I use online banking fro bill paying exclusively. I particularly like receiving a confirmation code and a guaranteed delivery. In addition, no stamps is a nice plus.

  25. skylog says:

    i made the mistake of ordering more checks for myself at the end 2009. i had 4 left. as i sit and type this…i have 3 left, and that is only b/c i made a point to use 1 about 3 months ago.

    so……it seems i am not really using checks. i am a little surprised that some people on here use as many as they do.


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