Monday, November 23

Does anyone actually pay for checks?

A mere two and a half months after moving here, I finally remembered (with Tim's help) to order new checks. It was kind of a weird experience.

The process itself was quick. I was actually able to do it online. Best of all, Chase is honoring Washington Mutual's promise of free checks for life. So the new ones won't cost us a penny. Probably the only part of the move we can say that about!

That said, I got a chance to scroll through the different check designs -- because I do that sort of thing -- and was a little disconcerted by the choices. Some were cute. Some were cutesy. Some were just pointless. But all of them were over $15. In fact, most hovered between $20-26.

Then there were additional flourishes for $4 a box. The font could be changed to something softer and approximating calligraphy. The initial of your last name could be enlarged into a sort of monogram in front of your name. And one I hadn't seen before: A symbol or statement on the check that denoted a hobby or activity.

I understand wanting to express yourself. But aren't there better ways to do it than on your checks? If you took a design and a couple of the flourishes, you're looking at over $30. For a box of checks. How often do you actually write checks? Do people actually compliment your choice in check motifs?

Of course, I know there are ways to get these things cheaper. I seem to recall that Current had advertisements for more affordable checks. And at least every other week you can generally find an ad in one of the Sunday inserts. I don't remember how much they cost -- I want to say around $12? -- but I remember thinking they weren't all that bad.

Perhaps if I were already buying through one of those ads, I would throw a few more bucks in to get some Muppet checks (Tim would be maaaad) or a nice, rounded script. Who knows? Since Chase is everywhere, I plan on taking advantage of the free checking as long as I can.

Yeah, it dooms me to boring old checks, but I can find other ways to personalize my life... Especially if it means saving $20-40 at a time.

So what about you folks: Do you pay for checks? Do you get the little flourishes?



Anonymous Little Miss Moneybags said...

My bank no longer provides free checks with a checking account (unless it's a paid they're still not free!) so I do have to purchase checks. I did a Google search and found a company where I can get plain checks for $9.99 plus tax (and then I Googled the company to make sure they're legit!). My checks are super plain and boring, and that's fine with me, because I write exactly one per month and I don't spend all that much time looking at them. I really don't understand all the flourishes and stuff--I'm all about self-expression, but seriously, no one looks at those things.

November 24, 2009 at 6:28 AM

Blogger Meg said...

I can't even remember the last time I used a check except maybe to check the routing number for online billing. So that would be a no.

Just curious...What do y'all use checks for nowadays? Is there anything you pay using a check that you couldn't pay for otherwise? And if there is an alternative, why do you choose to write a check?

November 24, 2009 at 8:00 AM

Anonymous R. May said...

My credit union charges for using my card so I do tend to write checks. I currently have the freebies but when they run out I will have to buy some. And yup I spend the extra couple of bucks to get a design I like. Doesn't bother me to pay an extra couple of bucks for something that makes me smile everytime I write a check.

Some people buy fancy coffee, I buy fancy checks.

November 24, 2009 at 9:21 AM

Anonymous Donna Freedman said...

I pay my electric bill and my rent by check. I put a check rather than cash in the collection plate at church. Every payday I send a check to my 87-year-old aunt who is living on Social Security.
Mostly, I love the ease of paying online. And no, I don't pay for checks, either.

November 24, 2009 at 12:06 PM

Blogger Abigail said...

R May,

Did you pay bank prices or did you go through another company? Just curious. Either way, so long as the checks make you happy, that's all that matters I guess. (So long as you're not buying too much fancy coffee with those fancy checks!) I suppose the per-check cost is rather small, too.


I pay my rent with a check. And a few deposits for things like a gym keys got written as checks.

I also pay therapists with checks. I prefer that to making sure I have exact change when I go.

Most people have to use a check to pay their mortgage or rent. My community offers the choice to pay via credit card, but there's a fee of something like $15, so I'm happy just writing out a check.

November 24, 2009 at 12:25 PM

Anonymous Laurie Lamoureux said...

Some small businesses prefer checks even if they take credit cards, due to the fees they have to pay to process a credit payment. In our business, we are considering doing a discount for paying by cash or check.

November 24, 2009 at 3:01 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

does anyone actually use checks anymore?

November 24, 2009 at 8:53 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Church gets a check, my landlady gets two checks (rent and utilities), and I write one check for cash that covers my lunch spending for the month. This is a check because it's extremely convenient to cash a check at my office.

I have the boring old blase checks the bank first provided, and I don't care because they're free. I'd love to have fun cute personalized checks, but I'd rather have the money.

November 25, 2009 at 10:47 AM

Blogger DogAteMyFinances said...

I bought the business checks at Wal-Mart. Best prices around, as much as they suck in general.

Think of it as the check publisher. It's a classic upsell. They'll print whatever idiots will pay for. Only takes one...

November 25, 2009 at 12:35 PM

Anonymous R. May said...

I company hop. Usually I can get 4 boxes for about $20.

November 25, 2009 at 1:29 PM

Anonymous Shevy said...

Years ago I had free cheques. Then my bank merged with another and they started charging. Of the 2 credit unions I belong to now, one will print me a full book of cheques on the spot on those rare occasions when I can get into my branch when they're open (my rural one, so we're usually only there weekends and statutory holidays). The one here in the city charges for cheques, but the chequing account itself is free (unlike the almost $20/mo for a regular chequing account at the bank).

I use cheques for tuition payments and all the other things (hot lunch, parent participation, field trip fee, class pictures, etc.) at my daughter's school. They have to have post dated cheques for the tuition or you can put it on Visa or MC and pay 3% more!

Also for one debt repayment. Pretty much everything else I do as either pre-authorized (if the amount is the same month to month) or as online bill payment.

I'm not sure that you can actually buy your own cheques through just any company in Canada, although there are computer programs so you print your own. I see some people using those (I work for a non-profit, so I see lots and lots of cheques).

November 27, 2009 at 7:33 AM

Blogger Revanche said...

I bought the cute checks with baby animals on them and I still love them to this day. Of course, I bought a 4-box pack for the lowest possible price back in ought-two and I'm still working on the 3rd box. These days, I just use one check a month, and send rent/Cobra checks via Electric Orange. I shouldn't have to order new checks for another 2 or 3 years.

November 28, 2009 at 12:51 PM


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