General Question

john65pennington's avatar

Are written bank checks, to pay your bills, becoming a thing of the past?

Asked by john65pennington (29235points) May 28th, 2010

Today, is my bill-paying day. i gathered the bills due and my checkbook. then, it hit me….“i don’t need my checkbook”! i have converted all my bill-paying checks to debit card payments. no checks to write, no stamps to buy, no licking a yukky envelope, anymore! Question: paying bills on-line… this taking the place of the old-fashioned check and stamp procedure? are blank checks printed anymore for bank customers?

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36 Answers

reverie's avatar

Here in the UK, cheques are planning to be totally phased out by 2018, providing adequate alternatives are developed such that there is no situation which would necessitate paying by cheque. However, I do still receive chequebooks sent to me by my bank, although this is fairly infrequent (I maybe get sent one every year or two!).

With bills, I think most people now either pay by telephone (either speaking to an operator or to an automated line) with a debit or credit card, or they pay online, as you mentioned. A number of people pay bills at the Post Office here too, although I perceive this as much less common for younger or middle-aged people.

Personally, I’m not a fan of cheques. I dislike that someone can hold onto my cheque for a few months before banking it. Although this isn’t likely to happen with big companies, I really dislike the payee being able to control when my money leaves my account – I want to be able to control that timing as much as possible. Having said that, I also really dislike automated direct debit payments for bills, especially utility bills. Here, our utility providers tend to rely on estimated bills, which tend to be inaccurate in the providers’ favour, so I tend to like to check the bill and then pay online or by phone once I have verified the amount is right!

CMaz's avatar

I believe people still use check books. To keep track of their money easier.
Write the check, and right then and there, make a note.

Drives me crazy, waiting in line at the food store while someone writes a check.

Paperless society. Anti Christ at work. ;-)

janbb's avatar

We pay almost all of our bills online, but I will occasionally write out a check for such things as the hairdresser, etc. I probably write out only one or two checks a month and my husband even less than that.

Lightlyseared's avatar

I haven’t written a check in 13 years so I’d have to say yes.

ragingloli's avatar

No one in my close or near family ever used cheques. We have always used bank transfers and cash.

Primobabe's avatar

I pay all of my usual, regular bills electronically. I write a check on very rare occasions—to include a monetary gift in a graduation card, to pay an unusual and nonrecurring bill, or to make tax payments (most, perhaps all, government jurisdictions don’t accept on-line payments, although they usually have their own systems for electronic transfers). I probably don’t use paper checks more than once or twice per month.

YoBob's avatar

My family is old school.

I write a couple of big checks to my wife twice a month and she writes individual checks to cover the bills.

tranquilsea's avatar

I pay all my bills electronically. I only use cheques in situations where I am paying for services and the vendor doesn’t take visa or mastercard or debit.

Coloma's avatar

I utilize both. Write a few checks, pay online or with my CC or debit card too.

I like the control of still using my checkbook, write the checks for bills when they arrive and don’t have to remember to make any deposits by a certain date.

I am self employed so my income can vary widely from month to month, so choosing to pay a few bills by check gives me the freedom to capitalize on grace periods if necessary.

JLeslie's avatar

We only use checks for gifts to family, paying property taxes, and there must be a couple of others, but not many. for the most part we do bill paying online. Putting a stamp on all of my bills would cost me another few dollars, why waste the money?

Every so often I get behind someone who is paying with a check at the grocery store or a department store and it’s annoying. I used to work in retail and we dreaded that check book coming out.

@Coloma we have the ability to designate what day the bill will be paid online, I don’t see why paying by check gives you more control with grace periods?

Scooby's avatar

I still write cheques out for all my utility bills! :-/
Phone, Gas, Electric, Water, everything else is by direct debit, or over the phone on the odd occasion, why it’s like this?? I guess I just like to have at least some control, even if it’s just a little, I did once get a Gas bill in for £12,385.00 for the quarter, it should have read £123.85, maybe this is the reason, had it been direct debit at the time I’d have been a little short of funds…. :-/

Siren's avatar

I agree that they still have their uses, while online payment is probably the most ecological, efficient and hassle-free route nowadays. Like others, sometimes I want a paper trail that a check can provide, as opposed to relying on a company’s online payment verification that my payment was submitted.

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

I hope that checks don’t disappear in my lifetime. I don’t trust the internet for any financial purpose. If I order something from an online vendor, I telephone the order and card info. My bank has instructions to automatically pay my few utility bills. Otherwise it’s cash, check or face-to-face card use.

Coloma's avatar


It’s just a preference, another option that I like to keep.

I have no issue with check writers in stores, a minor inconveinance and an excercise in patience IMO.

JLeslie's avatar

@Scooby we have two options here. We can set up to allow a company to withdraw funds. Or we can do the bill paying through our banks website, so we still have to go to the site every month, type in how much the bill is and send the funds, much like writing a check.

@Coloma after working in retail it is not just the patience part, it is the bad check writing part that become annoying, that is if you are the owner.

eden2eve's avatar

I still have a check book, but rarely use it. Some bills, i.e. my auto insurance, require automatic that funds are withdrawn automatically, or offer a discount to those who pay that way. Many if not most are happy with debit cards. One grocery stores doesn’t take credit cards but welcomes Debit.

@JLeslie , don’t many retailers now have the ability to take funds immediately out of checking accounts, therefore protecting the business from bad checks?

JLeslie's avatar

@eden2eve Big companies have check protection, which I never found out exactly what that means, but I guess they are paying to guarantee the checks somehow. Smaller companies just get screwed. You probably have noticed that some small businesses no longer take checks. You would be amazed howmany bad checks are written. Of course it varies around the country, some places see more bad checks than others.

I don’t think the money comes out of the bank immediately, but maybe it has changed since I worked in retail?? Not sure. I would think there is still a couple of days in there for the transfer to take place. We would have to ask a retailer or bank person. Do debit cards immediately move the funds? I think there is even a waiting period there, where the money is on some sort of hold. I’m not sure how it works. I know if you swipe a debit card for a hotel stay there is a temporary hold of funds that is higher than the actual bill might be for the possibility of incidentals. Some people have messed themselves up by not being able to “charge” something on their debit card because funds are tied up this way, even though they actually have not used the higher amount of money.

CaptainHarley's avatar

I would imagine that as time goes on, fewer and fewer people will use checks for much of anything. There will probably be some holdout traditionalists, but they will be in the minority.

tedibear's avatar

Very, very rarely do I write a check any more. My quarterly pest service for our house gets a check, because that’s easiest for the guy who is doing the service. I used to do the same for my trash bill, but they now accept payment from my bill pay service, so that’s one more down. I truly dislike having to write checks. Why would I want to mail my name, address, account number and signature when I can send a payment that doesn’t include my bank account number?

Scooby's avatar


I like the idea of paying through the second option, this would give me the control I need + save me the cost on postage, my water rates are once a year, Gas, Electric & phone are quarterly so this method would suit me down to the ground….. I’ll be looking into it as it’s something I’ve never even contemplated! I need a little nudge now & then! ;-)

JLeslie's avatar

@Scooby Excellent! Glad I might have helped you.

JLeslie's avatar

@Scooby for us the initial set up is a little tedious by the way. You have to put in all of the required information for the company you are paying, Visa, Utility, etc., but then once you have entered the info it is easy going forward, you just go to the bank website, click on the bill you need to pay and enter the amount.

InspecterJones's avatar

The only bill that I still need a check for is my rent, everything else is online.

Scooby's avatar


Thanks again & for the heads up too, I’m a little behind the times at present, I’ll look into setting this up soon, hopefully it wont be too complicated ;-)

perspicacious's avatar

Not as far as I’m concerned. I pay my bills with checks. Maybe it’s because I’m familiar with some nightmares people have lived through by using online bill pay. I don’t find writing and mailing a few checks every month to be old fashioned nor burdensome.

charliecompany34's avatar

we hate to write checks. you have the money in your account, you write the check and then you wait and wait and wait for the money to be cashed. balance book says the money is still there but after so long you’re like “hell, i need this money.”

we now do money orders. take the cash out the bank and write money orders. now the account is where you want it to be and you dont have to keep balancing.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

I haven’t used checks in over a decade because anything that can’t be paid for with my debit/charge card can be paid for with a money order. I’ve never had any identity theft problems or account discrepancies in paying for things online.

Aethelwine's avatar

I only use checks or cash. Most bills can be paid by electronic check over the phone. and I fill out my check before I enter the store. I bet it takes you credit card people much longer than I for any transaction. ;)

Primobabe's avatar

Back in the day, before credit cards were so dominant, checks were a nuisance for merchants. Retail check-kiting schemes were much more common, and there was no internet for identifying criminals, so a store took a risk when it accepted a check. Now that credit cards have taken over the world, many stores are delighted to receive good ol’ fashioned checks. Credit card merchant fees really add up and cut into profits margins; there are no such fees associated with a check.

Coloma's avatar

Does it really matter how anyone pays, as long as the bills get paid.

I am with @perspicacious

I don’t find writing a few checks to be traditionalist or inconvienient, just option # 3, 4 or 79 in this day and age. lol

Credit cards can be a royal pain in the ass , I am still disputing an overseas transaction from February that is still being investigated.

Next time I leave the country it’s cash all the way!

lynfromnm's avatar

I still know some people who stubbornly use checks, but I think it’s just a familiar pattern for them and the practice will soon disappear. All of my bills are paid through online bill paying on my bank’s website and I use cash, a debit card or a credit card for purchases. I use Paypal for online purchasing. It’s much more convenient, no need to purchase stamps or buy checks, and I can track everything easily online.

Dr_Lawrence's avatar

I write many fewer checks for routine bills and payments than I did 20 years ago. I still appreciate their utility for purchases where debit transactions are not possible. I do not use Credit cards any more because I prefer to buy things only when I have the money available.

I like the paper trail that checks provide for certain types of transactions.

Primobabe's avatar

There are many things to like about electronic payments. My personal favorite—input a bill when it arrives, and it automatically gets paid on time. That’s one fewer thing to worry about, one fewer item for the To-Do list.

jazmina88's avatar

I love bill pay on line. so easy and the bank pays postage for the small ones.

I use my debit card and check balance online. i could never balance a checkbook anyway.

I rarely write checks, and it’s awesome.

downtide's avatar

I use one cheque a year, to pay one bill to a company that still hasn’t gotten out of the stone-age.

Jabe73's avatar

Money will eventually be phased out altogether in the near future. Pretty soon it will be impossible for drug dealers and other criminals to make any money off of their activities. As credit overtakes the actual monetary unit or currency computers will be even more depended upon than ever. This is going to backfire on us big time as it will take only one electronic disaster to erase everyone’s lifetime savings and checking accounts. This is going to happen one day, not a matter of if but when.

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