Do I Still Need to Have Paper Checks for My Checking Account?
by Dollar Stretcher Contributors
Do I Still Need to Have Paper Checks for My Checking Account?
I just wrote my last check (for something I could have just as easily used cash for) and I am trying to determine if I should order new ones or if I can get by without. I have had this same book of checks for more than 10 years, and I haven't had an absolute need to write one in years. I pay all of my bills online and always use my debit card at the store and pay cash when I cannot use my card. Am I overlooking any situation where I will regret not having paper checks for my checking account?
Go Temporary with Paper Checks
The best thing to do is ask for some temporary checks. My banks give me 10 or so (depending on the bank/credit union), which lasts me years. They come with my name and address on them, so they are not like the temporary checks from decades ago that had no name or address. You can also tell them what number to start them at.
Paper Checks Provide Paper Trail
Checks provide a paper trail of payment that you don't have when you pay cash. I use very few of them, but they come in handy at times.
One check in my wallet means I never have to carry more than $20 to $40 on me, lessening the chance of losing a good deal of money through theft or carelessness.
Ask your bank if it provides "counter" or other checks free of charge. Many do.
Come in Handy When Sending a Gift
Paper checks are nice to have for those occasions where you don't want to send cash through the mail as a gift to an individual or a couple. Otherwise, it is highly unlikely that you need paper checks.
3 Times for Paper Checks for a Checking Account
My husband's company still requires a voided paper check, along with a completed form, to make a change to his direct deposit. We haven't changed credit unions in years, but we did recently change what percentage of his salary we wanted direct deposited to the savings account. We needed a voided paper check for that.
We've been out at restaurants, stores, etc., and on rare occasion, their card machine isn't working. It is nice to have a checkbook in my purse for emergencies like these. Plus, it is slightly safer than carrying extra cash.
Some businesses will pass the credit card processing fee on to the consumer. When we pay our property taxes, they assess a 5% fee if we pay by credit card or debit card, and it is waved if we pay with a check.
Cheryl B. in Texas
Pay Taxes With Paper Checks
This a tough decision for people who have been using checks for years. You should be banking with an institution that doesn't charge you for checks or paying bills online. If you are, the decision to reorder checks is easier. Order them. My credit union gives me free checks and free bill paying online. I pay 98% of my bills online. However, I use checks to pay for my property tax, state income tax, and federal income tax because I want a paper copy to show if I'm ever questioned about these payments.
Paper Checks Are Obsolete!
In response to your question about continuing with paper checks, the answer is no. I, too, do everything online or through debit card. However, I only needed a check one time in many years and it was to purchase our vacation home. The only thing I needed to do was go to my bank to ask for a sheet of paper checks and three of them were printed for my use at a very low cost. I still have the other two checks in case something like this comes along. If you need to write a check, another solution is to purchase a money order (free from your bank) or at the post office (for a fee). Get rid of the paper checks. They are basically obsolete these days!
Free Paper Checks for the 50+ Crowd
My credit union has free checks for members over 50 years of age. You might check with your financial institution to see if they have any such assistance. I keep a pad of checks in my purse because several times I have dealt with businesses that do not accept "cards" but take cash or checks. Also, some businesses will not accept monthly payments on their accounts except by check or cash. My library takes only cash or checks for purchase of "for sale" books. I use very few checks, but they have come in very handy a number of times>
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Avoid Extra Fees
Since my bank offers me free checks, it is a no-brainer for me. However, I would still want to have some checks on hand. When I go to the dentist, if I pay with a check, I get a 5% discount. I have run into other places that will tack on a 5% charge if I use a credit or debit card. At Christmas, I send checks to the kids. It is always appreciated and never exchanged. I do most of my bill paying online, but there are the occasional bills that probably will never come up again, so it is easier to write a check than to set them up as a payee. If you are concerned with the cost of getting new checks, you can always have them made at Walmart or some of the online businesses that might be less expensive.
Money Orders Work Just Fine
I changed banks eight years ago. In over 15 years with that bank, I'd probably used five checks, so I did not order checks from my new bank. I was nervous at first, but I've never missed having a check. I've needed a check two or three times over the last eight years, and in those instances, a money order worked just fine. Money orders are available at a post office and just about all grocery stores and pharmacies.
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