With ATM cards, debit cards and online banking, it’s enticing to think about managing all your banking while going completely paperless. However, there are some times when writing a check is still the best way to handle your funds. Whether you have a basic checking account or interest checking account, you can have access to unlimited check writing. Checks can help you make larger payments without carrying extra cash or purchases where credit cards are not accepted. Checks also serve as receipts when you need them. Take a look at these different ways you can still use checks in the 21st century.
- College expenses: When you’re in college, you face a lot of new expenses. Checks can help you purchase secondhand books from other students, pay for groceries at discount stores and set up direct deposit for any student employment you get on campus.
- New “real-world” expenses: When you start out on your own, you’ll be paying for a lot more by yourself. While you can set up automatic payments for many of your bills, rent is an expense that is still mainly paid with checks. Plus, the checks act as receipts for your payments. Having checks for your checking account is also useful when traveling: You can use them to pay tolls or for a tow truck in the event of an emergency. You can also use the checks from your interest checking account to make charitable donations and mail any owed taxes in April.
- Places that may take only checks or cash: Saving money on furniture by shopping at garage and estate sales? Checks are a great way to pay for those big ticket items without carrying around large amounts of cash. Need to send money as a gift or repayment? Writing a check is safer than cash as you can cancel the check should it be lost in the mail. Plus, as you get older you may find more uses for checks, like paying the babysitter, daycare provider, house cleaner or landscaping service.
How to write a check
Now that you know how useful they are, there are a few things you need to know before you can start paying with checks. When you open a checking account, you’ll probably receive several start-up checks. These checks will have your account number and the bank’s routing number on them. Since checks draw directly from your checking account, it’s important to be careful handling them.
- Never write a blank check or make a check out to cash as you run a greater risk of check fraud if someone other than the intended recipient obtains your check
- Always fill out checks in pen – especially when voiding a check
- Always clearly denote the check’s recipient, the exact amount and the check’s purpose
- Be sure to record the check number, amount, and recipient in your check registry
Keep track of checking account expenses with your checkbook
Your checkbook comes with a registry to track your debits and credits on the interest checking account. Write down all your check information, as well as ATM withdrawals and debit expenses. Use the registry to compare your online statement to your tracked expenses to make sure everything lines up correctly. This will help you catch any mistakes and note when checks post. Remember to re-order checks when you get low. While you may not use checks as often as your parents did, it’s still important to keep some on hand.