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July 05, 2012

Does Anyone Still Use Personal Checks?



With the convenience of debit cards and online bill pay, the use of personal checks has been steadily declining. Gone are the days of waiting at the grocery store while someone fishes a checkbook from a handbag, writes the check with painful and deliberate slowness and records the check in the check register while the cashier stands by with a receipt in his extended hand.

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Or are those days truly gone?

In the U.K., the Payments Council voted in 2009 to eliminate all paper checks and the paper check clearing system by 2018. However, thanks to uproar from consumer groups and small business owners, the Payments Council scrapped its plans to eliminate checks in 2011. Checks will still survive in the U.K. and in many other countries as long as people prefer them as a method of payment.

Pete Iorizzo wrote a blog for the Albany Times-Union called, “Why do people write checks at the grocery store?” One respondent said that debit cards had no safety features to protect consumers if their funds were stolen.

Another respondent said that checks allow you to keep the money in your account for a little while longer because checks take an additional day or so to clear. However, thanks to electronic funds transfer, most retailers instantly withdraw funds from your checking account even if you write a paper check.

Many people have turned to printing their own checks. Software like the EzCheckPersonal Check Writer application allows people to bypass paying the bank for pre-printed checks. Instead, account owners can print checks for multiple accounts directly from their personal computers.

Other banks are becoming more innovative with their check-writing offerings. With an Electric Orange (News - Alert) checking account from ING Direct, for example, the bank will cut checks for you and mail your checks without charging you for postage. You can also enjoy mobile deposits thanks to ING’s smartphone app.

Of course, if you still want a checkbook, ING will provide you with one. For some customers, old habits die hard.

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Edited by Rachel Ramsey
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