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Banking Finances & Money

When can we stop writing checks?

Almost 2 years ago, I wrote about how we’re using less and less checks each year. Thanks to the power of online banking, we’ve gone from running through boxes of checks every 18 months down to a box about every 7 years:

2004: 95
2005: 96
2006: 41
2007: 19

But we seemed to have stagnated in 2008 and 2009, even going up last year:

2008: 32
2009: 17

What I want to know is when can we stop writing checks??? Will I always need to keep a checkbook? While I use credit cards for most purchases, there’s still a few places where I still have to write a check:

  • City of Rockville, MD for trash, water and sewer (every 3 months). C’mon, get with the times and accept online payments already!
  • Some repairmen, such as our HVAC company when they make house calls. It’s either cash or check, but they do good work, so I stay with them.
  • Gifts (mostly nieces and nephew) for birthdays/baptisms/etc. While cash is nicer, it’s even less convenient to go to the ATM than to write a check, and I figure there’s more of a chance the money will be saved than spent if it’s deposited into the bank first.
  • Maryland MVA (DMV). I got Stacie an alumni plate for her MINI as a surprise and there was only a check/money order option. Regular renewals are done online though.
  • Charities. If I want a paper trail of a donation, I’m paying by check or credit card.

While I have an ING Electric Orange checking account (the link is for opening a savings account and getting $25), I’m still not comfortable with not having the check book option in those instances I don’t have cash and the other party doesn’t take credit. Eventually I foresee cellphone payments as an option (the iPhone already has a payment app), but in the near future, I have to continue keeping this stupid check book.

What do all of you think?

About the author

Clever Dude

10 Comments

  • Amen to that.

    I haven’t written a physical check in at least 3 years. When I switched to Chase when I moved this time last year I even passed on even getting checks. I’ve moved completely to online bill pay, never know how I did without it. No keying in CC numbers, no address verification, exp. dates etc.

    The only thing that has involved a check for me in recent months was a security deposit for my apartment. Cost $8 from Chase. Worth it. Now if I need to pay a bill that doesn’t allow for bill pay, Chase will cut the check and send it for me. So. Simple.

    The ATM near my office can accept check deposits and I am about to switch to USAA complete which allows for deposits from home which means I can truly do branchless banking.

    Checks are ridiculous. There’s an IPhone app now for 99 cents that lets you accept credit cards. If I was in any sort of independent contractor type business where I was on my own for collecting payment I would be using this. No chance of having a check bounce or waiting for payment to arrive after invoicing.

  • I rarely use checks. I wrote one for my first month’s rent and security deposit for my apartment. I probably hadn’t written a check before that for a year.

    I saw a story earlier this week that the UK is completely phasing out checks.

  • I would love to phase out cheques completely. The only place I regularly write them is for my chorus dues. It’s a small, non-profit organization. I could, in theory, pay cash, but we pay by putting our dues in an envelope and leaving it in the treasurer’s box (which is out on the table during rehearsals). I just don’t feel good about leaving cash out without a paper trail.If the majority of the chorus weren’t err…more mature… (trying not to say “old” here) I’d suggest the iPhone app.

  • The only thing I used to have to pay by check was my rent. When I bought a house, I was glad to be getting rid of that (since my mortgage payment is electronically deducted from my bank account), but unfortunately, the stupid HOA only accepts checks, so I still have one monthly check to write. I have to include the stub from the bill they mail me, so it wouldn’t work to have the bank mail them a check directly.

    I’ve written a total of 15 checks in 2009, 11 of which were for HOA dues (the other 4: union initiation fee, passport renewal fee, property taxes, and charitable donation). Still, I think it will be a while before we can get rid of checkbooks altogether. Many online bill payments require the account and routing numbers from a check in order to set up the account, and there will still be those last few payments that can be made only by check. Even if you can get the bank to mail a paper check in those situations, I’d rather keep my checkbook for the convenience of writing a check on the spot.

  • I’m trying to get my church to accept CC donations and there is push-back due to the 2+% that will be lost for processing a credit card. I know that a lot of non-profits/charities do this, but I imagine that 2% is a major component.

    I rarely write checks. I use my bank’s online billpay and checks get cut and mailed.

    I do occasionally have to write a check for the babysitter when I don’t have cash on hand. I wish there was a better way.

  • As a parent with young children, I write a check every single week. The children go to a home daycare where you can either pay by cash or check. well, going to an ATM every week to withdraw the money hardly seems worth it, so each week I write out the fees on a check.
    That’s 52 a year without any other consideration of things that only accept cheques (like payment for things at school, fundraisers, etc).

    I have at least three more years of writing weekly checks!

  • I still write checks to pay certain bills and don’t think I’ll ever be done using them. I dislike carrying cash so checks are the next best thing if you find yourself in a situation where credit/debit is not accepted.

  • I’d LOVE to pay by credit card if I could. Checks are a hassle, and I want as many rewards points as I can get. Sadly, I cannot pay the big bills by credit (or even online?!) – mortgage, utilities, car payments, etc…

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