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Banking Finances & Money

Do you have the “right to write checks”?

Someone sent me a link to a site called “Right to Write Checks” with a cute video about Duncan Steele, “the man with checks appeal”. Personally, I’m a bit biased against using checks, considering I write so few each year now, and I get no rewards for using them versus using credit (I pay off all balances on time, so I don’t pay interest, ever).

Let’s see how many checks I’ve been writing:
2004: 95
2005: 96
2006: 41
2007: 19
2008: 32
2009: 17

2010: 12

I’ll reiterate that the only times I use the checkbook is when we have a service tech visit the house and they want payment right then, or if we’re donating to charity or giving gifts and there’s no other alternative (We won’t mail cash).

So we’re still stuck using checks, but at this rate, we’ll be using our current box of checks into the next decade. However, there are still many people out there who love to whip out their checkbook at the grocery store, or they just have no other alternatives like credit or debit cards, so I can’t hate on them too much.

But the concept of “the right to write checks“? Really? Apparently, unbeknownst to me as I don’t use my checkbook at stores is that many vendors don’t accept checks as a form of payment. Well, back in college, I worked at a clothing store and we saw many bad checks cross our counter, and tracking them down to get payment proved almost impossible. With the current proliferation of credit and debit options, it seems almost suspicious for someone to be paying by check, don’t you think?

But while watching one of the videos on the site, I caught someone refer very briefly about insurance against bad checks costing half a percent versus the 2-3% in fees for credit processing. I couldn’t find much in my 5 seconds of research on the topic, but if such an option were available, inexpensive and reliable, then many more businesses should opt for it. It just depends on the type of business you run, the average cost of a sale and your risk aversion.

But should businesses be required to accept checks? I know many governmental entities only accept cash, checks or money orders, or charge exorbitant fees to process a credit card transaction (I know from experience), so there’s still a need for checks out there, but one day, maybe sooner than we think, paper checks will go the way of the rotary telephone. What, you never had the joy of having to spin a dial 7 times to phone someone? Only your great-grandma will still be using checks. Kids today don’t even know how to write a check!

So while those of us 30 and above know the history and love/hate of checks, I personally don’t think we should have a “right to write checks” because I simply prefer other means of payment that are more convenient, secure, and offer rewards. The next step, which is already prevalent in Africa, is payment via cellphone. Supposedly one day the credit card will be history!

What do you think? Are you still using checks regularly? Have you been able to go check-free? Oh, let me throw in a little kicker first though…don’t think that by using online billpay from your bank that you’re free of paper checks. Very few of your online bill payments are fully electronic; your bill is still being paid by a paper check!

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Clever Dude


  • In this day and age most checks in stores are handled electronically much like a debit card and deducted from Your checking account instantly. The only people writing checks anymore are little old ladies who don’t know how to use a debitcard
    or people who want to use their money a day before payday ( which is no longer possible most places).

  • People have been predicting the death of coined money, paper money, and now checks for some time. Given the security of the paper check (which is way high for a form of tender), even though I rarely write checks, I think it would be a mistake if they went away. Look at what is going on in other countries with electronic services being shut down. I’d hate to be in America if that were to happen (as Lieberman and Collins have suggested giving the government power to do so) without a few bucks in cash and a checkbook.

  • I do the majority of my transactions via credit card and online payment but I use checks to make my Sunday donation to church. I just don’t like touching cash so I prefer to write the checks (that I got YEARS ago in college) to make my weekly donation instead.

    Other than that I do not use checks and would not dream of using them at the grocery store. I don’t even carry my check book with me. I write checks according to the number of Sundays in the upcoming month and then put those checks on the computer desk and grab one before heading out to church.

  • Regarding bad check insurance, research telecheck and certegy.

    Most large retail chains use one of those.

    There is nothing magic about debit cards that prevents them from getting lost.

    It is very inappropriate to view writing a check as inherently a sign of suspicion.

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