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Quick take: The pros and cons of writing checks

Posted by Garick Giroir on July 19, 2019

 

Blog_PROS AND CONS OF WRITING A CHECK (1)

Is writing a check still logical in 2019? Honestly? Maybe not.

Have you ever attempted to explain checks to someone under the age of 20? 

"Well, you see Timmy, checks are like slow-motion debit cards. Um, yea kind of like Venmo, but slower, and you have to physically deliver it."

You shouldn't be surprised that younger generations view checks as bulky and inconvenient.

While society seems to be moving away from your parents' pen and paper payment method, that doesn’t mean it’s time to ditch the checkbook just yet. The numbers don't lie: 97 percent of small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) still rely on paper checks to make and accept payments. Yes, 97 percent. Read it and weep, Timmy.

Last year we uncovered how to spot a fake check, now let’s explore the pros and cons associated with the age-old payment method.

Pros

No convenience fees. Many businesses charge convenience fees for electronic payments. Paying with a personal check helps you to avoid paying more. Stamps are 47 cents. Compare that to a $5-$10 convenience fee. It's a no-brainer.

The safe way to send money. If you drop a $100 bill in a busy mall, say bye bye to Benjamin. You could catch a person in the act of picking up your dollar and there would be no way to prove it is yours. Once cash leaves your hand, anyone can spend it. On the other hand, if a stranger finds your check and attempts to cash it, he’s going to have a really hard time. That’s because banks and merchants still require a signature on every check and cashiers are typically required to check customers’ IDs to verify that signatures are legitimate.

Proof of payment. While it may take longer to write and document a check, it provides future-you a quick and easy route for proving that a payment was made. You only need to show the vendor an image from an online banking page.

Cons

Younger generations are prone to scams. People between the ages of 20 and 29 – a population that is far more familiar with electronic payment methods, like PayPal and Venmo, are easy victims for fake check scams.

Checks aren’t cheap. Paying with a check can help you avoid convenience fees, but paying for those checks can cost a big chunk of change when buying them in bulk. You’ll have to shell out even more for fancy, customized checks that feature your alma mater or favorite animal on it. 

Processing takes longer. Cash, credit, and smartphone transactions process fairly quickly and post instantly to your account. With checks, the amount doesn’t leave your account until the recipient cashes the check. If you accidentally miscalculate your remaining balance you could end up overdrawing your account.

When you boil it down, paying with checks can benefit those who exercise a certain degree of discipline and street smarts. As long as you’re protecting your checking account from fraudulent activity and confirming you have enough money to cover the checks you write, checks can be a nice alternative to cash and credit cards.

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