In today’s modern, fast-paced world, checks do not really fit into the picture that well anymore. They are time-consuming, costly, and tedious and there are plenty of alternatives to using checks that are more efficient, and cheaper.
Personal checks still have some uses but for the most part, technology has made them nearly obsolete unless you want to give a check as a gift or require them for a specific purpose such as rent pre-payments.
Businesses still use checks as a preferred method of payment to individuals, however, this is also slowly being phased out. That being said, checks are still occasionally necessary and you should have some available just to be on the safer side of things.
What Can Checks Be Used For?
If you are younger than 25 there is a high likelihood that you have never written a check before and don’t really think you need them. There are some uses for checks still that may make it with your time to make sure you have some on hand. Checks can be used for a variety of purposes:
- 1Leaving a paper trail that confirms your payment for major purchases.
- 2You may run into individuals who don’t bank electronically and don’t know any better.
Requiring you to have to either teach them or adapt to their needs by using checks.
- 3Dealing with smaller businesses that don’t accept credit or other electronic payments.
- 4Giving a monetary gift to friends or family.
What You Need To Know About Your Check
If you have never used a check before then before you get them it is important you understand how to use them.
A check has several features and pieces of information that you must understand to make sure you are as safe as possible with your checks.
Let’s break down an average check into specific parts and look into the details. A typical check is made up of parts:
Name And Mailing Address
Typically in the upper left-hand corner of the check, it establishes who the check is from. When you get your checks made, this information needs to be submitted so that it gets printed on every check.
Usually located in the upper right corner, this number helps the user and the bank keep better track of your payments. This number can be referenced when you need to look back in your records to who you paid, how much, and in what order.
Pay To Order Line
In the middle of the check is the “pay to the order of” line where you fill in the name of the person or business who is receiving the check. Make sure the spelling is correct as any mistakes will be spotted by the bank and rejected.
Directly beside the “Pay to the Order of” line is the amount box. Fill in the box with the amount that you are paying written numerically.
In order to double-check and confirm the amount, you must also write the amount in words on the unlabelled line directly underneath the “Pay to the Order of” line.
As an example, if I wrote a check out for $350.35 I would write this value in the Amount box and write out “ Three hundred and fifty dollars and 35/100 on the unlabelled line.
On the bottom right of the check is the signature line where the issuer signs the check. Signing the check changes it from an ordinary piece of paper to legal tender. Make sure the signature you use is consistent as it can cause problems if it changes or is noticeably different.
The memo line is to the left of the signature line and is a small space for the issuer to write a small blurb on what the check is for.
If you are writing a lot of checks, especially to the same person it may be a good idea to use this line as it may save some confusion, however it is not mandatory.
Bank Routing Number
On the very bottom of the check is a string of numbers. These numbers will include critical information for the banks such as a bank routing number which identifies a specific financial institution when it is involved in a transaction using the check.
Now that we have some important information out of the way let’s take a look at a few methods you can use to order checks.
Remember that ordering checks takes some time and you should not wait until you are writing your last check to order more. There are 4 main ways to get your hands on personal checks.
1. Online From Your Bank
Requesting checks online from your bank is probably the easiest and fastest way to get the job done.
This method only works if you have online banking already set up and have your identity verified. The reason being, that the bank will have to confirm your identity if you are only doing this for the first time.
When navigating through your bank’s online page be aware that not all banks have the same layout and there may be differences in the specific tabs and options you must choose from, so I will give you a general overview of where to navigate to.
- 1Log in to your online banking service using your credentials.
- 2Navigate to the appropriate tab, these vary spending on the bank.
- 3Before blowing through the menus and ordering as fast as possible be sure to update and confirm your personal details so that they coincide with the Bank’s information on file. If you’ve moved since the last time you got checks then be sure to update your address in your bank and for your checks. Always be sure to check over the account number to be sure you have the right account selected.
2. Online From A Vendor
If for whatever reason you don’t want to order checks from your bank, you have the option of shopping around for a better deal on a third-party website. These websites often offer a discount compared to the bank, and in some cases are half the price.
Additionally, third-party websites are a lot more creative with their checks and have plenty more designs to choose from to personalize your checks.
- 1Ensure the third-party site of your choosing is secure and legitimate. It can’t hurt to do a quick google search for reviews on the company to get a better idea of expectations.
- 2Just like with your bank you will have to provide your personal information. Info such as your bank’s routing number, account number, address, phone, and several other optional questions.
- 3Place your order and give it some time.
- 4Once you receive your checks be sure to verify that they are secure. Secured checks are ones that are verified by the Check Payment Systems Association and these checks will have a padlock icon on the top-right corner.
For those who don’t like online ordering and form filling there are 2 other options that will have you interacting with real people. Whether in person or over the phone, interacting with another person can be very helpful and offer a lot more answers to questions you may not have gotten answered otherwise.
3. Over The Phone With Your Bank
Calling the customer service department of your bank will let you speak with somebody that will take you through the process of ordering checks.
As I mentioned if you want to speak with a real person about ordering checks then calling your bank will be the next fastest option. The number can usually be found on the back of your debit card or by simply googling the name of your Financial Institution.
4. In-Person At The Bank
The most traditional and simplest way to place your order.
Speaking with somebody face to face is always the clearest and best way to get your questions answered.
Most banks allow you to order through a teller, however, with the recent lockdowns and restrictions from the covid-19 virus, this may prove to be the most difficult option here.
Checks are becoming more outdated every day. However, they are not useless just yet and in fact, are still very popular in certain niches. I recommend having checks on hand just to be on the safe side and be prepared for all scenarios.
You never know when you will run into somebody who doesn’t take electronic payment methods, or you run short on cash and have your checkbook around to cover an emergency cost.
When ordering your checks be sure to check over your information and be sure it is accurate. Any mistakes will make the entire order void and useless. Ordering checks electronically is the most convenient option, especially with the covid-19 virus keeping us all at a distance.
However, many people prefer more traditional methods and would like to speak to somebody in person about it. Ordering through a third-party website is the cheapest and also most customizable option.
If you want your checks to stand out and save a bunch of money while you are at it then ordering through a Third-party is your best bet.