Do You Still Use Checks?


8 May,2012

For many, paper checks are relics from an age of money gone by. Checking accounts came to be because they were made expressly for the purpose of being able to write checks. And, of course, writing checks was more convenient than carrying around cash. However, times have moved on, and many of us feel that checks are outdated and even inconvenient.

Plastic = More Convenient Shopping

Checks, of course, have been replaced in large part by plastic. Even those who don’t like the idea of buying on credit, and who shun credit cards, are still likely to use plastic. Debit cards offer the convenience of plastic payment, as well as — in many cases — an increased level of security that checks don’t have. Cards have replaced checks because they are even more convenient. All you need is a small piece of plastic, and you can buy almost anything you want, almost anywhere you are.

However, the height of convenience still isn’t to be found in plastic. The ability to carry everything with you on one device is becoming more appealing. Digital wallets, which are basically smart phones with stored credit card and other payment options, are thought to be the wave of the future. When you can simply wave your phone in front of a point-of-sale device to complete a transaction, it makes even digging the debit or credit card out time consuming and difficult.

The latest innovation from PayPal aims to make even the need for carrying payment information in a cell phone a thing of the past. PayPal is now being accepted at terminals in select stores, and that means that you don’t even need to have any sort of wallet with you, digital or otherwise. Instead, all you need is the information in your head that allows you to pay with your PayPal account. The idea of filling out a check seems antiquated.

Many Advantages to Checks Have Been Negated

Even with the advancement of different payment methods, there have been some who stick stubbornly to their checks. However, many of the former advantages offered by checks have been negated. Many consumers used to engage in a practice known as “floating”. You could write a check that would be accepted as payment that day — even without having the money in the account. However, since checks take a few days to clear, you often had time to get money to the bank in time to cover the check before the money was taken out of your bank.

The float time is virtually gone now, though. Thanks to technology, it is possible for businesses to get pre-approval on checks. In much the same way that your bank account is checked for sufficient funds before your debit transaction goes through, the same is done with checks. Your check is run through a special scanner that can “read” the information on your check, and submit it to your bank. The amount is deducted from your account immediately, and the check can even be rejected. Unless you are mailing a check in, the floating advantage to the check has almost entirely disappeared.

As a result, it is little surprise that consumers are turning away from checks. What do you think? Are checks more trouble than they are worth?