Let me start off by stating I understand the frustration when Mary signs a check and then is asked to sign another piece of paper. Why doesn't the store want to take my check? It isn't good enough for them any longer?

On the contrary, most stores presume that is will be just fine; sadly, enough people has floated checks that haven't made it to payday or just outright written bad checks that now many stores policy is to run the check through a computer and make sure the money is the account.

I do this with items that I sell on eBay, If you send me a check I will call your bank to make sure the funds are in there before I even consider depositing it. That is why I think checks have gone the way of the VHS tape. Their usefulness is gone beyond personal nostalgia and the minor usefulness.

I was unable to pull up polling data in time for this post. However, it by a amateur survey done by myself, people are using their checkbooks less and less due to the convenience of paying for bills online, having bills paid via automatic deduction and the general usefulness of debit cards.


The debit card has many more pros in my opinion
1. Debit cards are free from the bank > Checks cost
2. Debit cards are easy to carry around > Checks are bulky
3. Debit cards use less paper > Checks waste paper, recycled or not
4. Debit cards are fast > Checks take time to write
5. Debit cards require no personal info beyond your name > Checks have name, address, phone, license info and more
6. You either have the money or you don't > Bad budgeting can cause issues with multiple checks written.

The only time I use a check anymore is when I give money to a person who I can't give cash to. Otherwise everything is done via debit card from my account. The process is immediate and allows me to keep up to date on my bank balance within 2-3 versus a written check that can take up to 7 days or more for the company or person to cash. When it comes to money, immediacy is very comforting.

Due to this convenience, now stores are implementing this Tele-check/First Data option for use to keep their own fraud down and streamline the process. As someone who works in the cash office of a retail store I can honestly say I loved the day we implemented the ECA option for checks. I don't have to manually register the checks and the store has less of a chance of "losing" a check by the cashier giving it back or misplacing it. The fewer checks that go through fewer hands, the better.

Some banks have not set up a system with Telecheck and those checks then are deposited manually. And if you have had troubles writing a check, most stores with give you a receipt with contact information or you can go to the chexsystem and order a report on your check writing history. You can also call Telecheck at 1-800-697-3170 and they will give reasons for not taking some checks.

For myself, checks have been replaced by the debit card, just as vhs tapes are replaced by dvd discs. Although I don't use the same system to pay to play, I still use the same system to record, I still have my checkbook register to keep my finances in order.

13 Comments

  1. Jason Unger // Wednesday, September 09, 2009 8:37:00 AM  

    I agree 100%. I avoid writing checks as much as humanly possible -- it's annoying, not nearly as safe or instant as a debit card, and just takes too much time.

  2. David@DINKS Finance // Wednesday, September 09, 2009 9:38:00 AM  

    I honestly can't remember the last time I wrote a check at a store. I write them for major bills (sometimes) but even with that I stick to online payments.

  3. Kacie // Wednesday, September 09, 2009 10:14:00 AM  

    My dad still writes a lot of checks. he's starting to use a debit card, but come on already!

    It takes forever at the checkout counter and I think they're so ridiculous.

    I only write checks if I'm mailing someone a monetary gift.

    Everything else is online bill pay or debit.

  4. Anonymous // Wednesday, September 09, 2009 2:33:00 PM  

    I too appreciate online & debit card payments, BUT there are some companies that are still not on board with either. Our car is financed through Citizens auto in New Jersey, we live in Illinois & it costs us $12.50 to do an online or telephone payment, not such a great deal! Many utility companies carry a hefty fee for online or phone payments also. These are often the reason many object to the all or nothing, "no check" cry across the country. As much as we would all like efficiency, until the commercial arena chooses to give up their fee system ,we must use checks still, in too many cases.

  5. Dawn // Wednesday, September 09, 2009 3:10:00 PM  

    @Jason
    Agreed, agreed, agreed!

    @David
    I remember the last one I wrote and it was for a major bill as well... they don't take credit card payments

    @Kacie
    Sometimes it is a way of life that is hard to change and comes so naturally - but it does slow down the check out process a bit.

    @Anon
    That does drive me a bit crazy, they have fees for everything the only way to get them paid is a check in the mail. I eagerly await all businesses catching up

  6. V.E. // Wednesday, September 09, 2009 5:06:00 PM  

    I may be the odd one out, here, but I think checks are still important. I use checks and my debit card about equally and I've found that when I use my card, I'm more likely to forget what it was I bought and how much it cost. While it's true that "either you have money, or you don't", my bank, at least, provides overdraft funds for customers and then charges them a fee whenever they use that coverage. So, it's more like using a credit card (to a small degree) than a debit card.

    When I use checks, I have to think about what I'm buying for two reasons... both of which you mentioned. First, checks cost money, so I have to be using the check for a good reason. Second, checks take time to write, so I have to think about what I'm buying. I think to myself, "Do I really need this new [fill in the blank]?" Writing a check helps me have time to decide that. Maybe that's not a good buying practice, but it's helped me not be loose with my cash.

    I must be old school in wasting paper, too, because I prefer to have all my bills sent to me via postal mail and pay all my bills the same way with checks. I guess I just like having the actual paper in front of me because I never know when the entire internet will fail and all my records will be lost, or something. An unlikely scenario, true, but it nearly happened last Autumn when the financial sector in the United States basically melted down in less than a week.

  7. Dawn // Wednesday, September 09, 2009 8:46:00 PM  

    @V.E
    As the saying goes "different strokes for different folks." You have found a system that works for you and the paper trail hasn't failed you. I fully understand that.

  8. MarkF // Thursday, September 10, 2009 3:17:00 AM  

    Hmm I cant recall many people saying a cheque had been forged but sadly my card was cloned recently - something that seems to be happening a lot more these days

  9. Anonymous // Saturday, September 12, 2009 3:30:00 PM  

    Small town, rural area, unless I'm going to make a road trip with an envelope full of cash, there are still many places that I need a check. Our life ins company doesn,t have online billing, 20min drive. Our property taxes, no website, 20 min drive. Local newspaper sub, wesite yes, don't do debit, 10 min drive. Sometimes it's still easier to write that check and drop it in the mail.

  10. Jessica@Safe Payday Loans // Sunday, September 13, 2009 11:52:00 PM  

    While writing out a check, there is always the possibility of it getting compromised. With debit cards, the question of safety does not arise, and banks issue them for free! I would pick debit cards over checks any day.

  11. Meanstreak // Tuesday, September 22, 2009 7:53:00 AM  

    Good Post. Jessica is mostly right. While I hate Credit Cards, Debit Cards are not a one size fits all solution. They are a great alternative to checks, one that makes sense. But Debit Cards, do not afford ALL of the same protections from every issuer that Credit Cards do.

  12. techwriter // Wednesday, December 23, 2009 10:48:00 AM  

    It really bugs when I see a woman (yes, it's usually a woman) in front of me in line writing a check. It only takes a few extra minutes, but it's still annoying. I never, never, never use my debit card because 1) some banks charge extra for that, 2) they take my money instantly, and if someone gets into my account, there goes all of my money. It's safer to use your credit card, and then if you have to dispute the charge, it's easier to get your money back. With a debit card, they have access to my checking account with which I pay my bills. Not good.

  13. rmlrhonda // Wednesday, December 23, 2009 3:11:00 PM  

    From the store standpoint, there is a monthly service charge for debit card transactions. For small operations like the local market where I have worked this can be an appreciable expense. They have actually requested that people use cash or checks when possible.