A lot has changed thanks to the development of technology. One of those areas is how people pay for things. Credit and debit cards have become popular options because of how effortless it is to pay. Cash will always be king.
But what about checks? What are some advantages and disadvantages to paying with checks? Even if you don’t write them yourself, there are still plenty of people who do. Let’s take a closer look.
Let’s start with the positives first, shall we? Though the general perception is that checks are a thing of the past, there are still plenty of situations in life where writing a check would make sense. Here are some of the advantages of writing checks.
Security is one of the biggest concerns when it comes to buying or paying for things. If you drop $100 at the mall, that sucker is gone before you even realize it. Paying with your credit or debit cards online always runs the risk of some unsavory individual getting hold of your information.
When you pay by check, however, it is one of the safest payment methods that exists. Not only must the person who receives the check provide identification verifying they are the person to whom the check is written, but they also require a signature on every check. You know that when you pay by check, it stands very little chance of being intercepted and cashed by someone else.
Proof of Payment
Sure, writing a check takes a little longer, and the documentation of the check takes some time as well. That said, it does provide an easy, quick route to prove that you made a payment. All you need to do is to show the vendor an image of the check, which can be accessed through your online banking.
If you have a utility or perhaps a landlord that says you haven’t paid, you can bring up an image of the check in no time. It can really come in handy when handling payment disputes.
No Convenience Fees
Sure, paying with a credit or debit card (or any other form of instant payment) can make things a lot easier. But it can also wind up costing you a lot more money over the long run than writing a check would.
That is because most businesses charge some sort of convenience fee for any type of electronic payment. You are basically paying a percentage to not have to physically write a check, which can be understandable to some.
But if you write a personal check, then you can save. If you buy a lot, you can save anywhere from a few bucks to more than $10 with every transaction. That adds up over a long period of time, potentially saving you hundreds over the long term.
You can’t talk about checks without the cons. What are some of the advantages and disadvantages of using checks? Well, let’s take a look at the downside of going with one of the tried and true methods of payment out there.
Difficult for Younger Generations
The unfortunate thing about just about anything in life is that people will take advantage of others. Though we generally think of older people when it comes to scams, people under the age of 29 can be scammed with checks.
They are far more familiar when it comes to the different forms of electronic payment, things such as Venmo and PayPal. When it comes to actual paper checks, the younger generation can fall for fake check scams. Just being aware of scams is a helpful thing and can keep some younger people from falling for those check scams.
Processing Takes Longer
Perhaps the biggest downside to writing checks is how long it takes to process them. When you pay with smartphones, cash, or credit, those transactions will process relatively quickly. In many cases, they can post to your account almost instantaneously.
The problem with checks is that they take a lot longer to leave your account. The money won’t leave until the recipient has cashed the check, which means that you can be waiting for that amount to come out for quite some time.
If you miscalculate and wind up taking out more from your balance than you meant to, you could wind up overdrawing your account. Writing a check is a delicate balance if you aren’t great at keeping track of your expenses during that pending period.
They Aren’t Cheap
Though they can definitely save you on fees over the long run, writing a lot of checks can also be quite expensive. Sure, they avoid that convenience fee, but if you have ever had to buy a book of checks, you know how expensive that can be.
Many banks will also require buying them in bulk, so that can mean spending $50–$100 on checks at one time. If you decide that you want your checks to be a little fancier, then that will cost even more. Putting your favorite team or pet on the checks will cost even more money. Consider this when writing checks, as that cost can get away from you before you know it. And it might be better to stick with the plain checks as opposed to going with the customized option even though the latter looks better.
Though it may seem like really no one uses checks anymore, there are still definitely advantages to writing a check. They can seriously save you on fees, and they tend to be more secure than most of the electronic payment options out there.
If you are familiar with how to write a check, doing so once in a while can still be a good thing. It just help to know when it can be most beneficial.