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Updated on Thursday, January 24, 2019
You probably don’t write nearly as many personal checks as you once did. And if this is true, you’re far from alone. The 2016 Federal Reserve Payments Study found that in 2015, checks accounted for 13.4% of all non-cash payments in the United States. However in 2000, checks accounted for 57.8 percent of such payments. The same study found that in 2015, U.S. households wrote an average of 7.1 checks per month. But in 2000, check writing in U.S. households averaged 19.3 checks per month.
It’s clear, then, that check writing is on the decline; more consumers are choosing to pay for everything from groceries to their monthly bills with credit or debit cards, direct deposit or mobile wallets.
This doesn’t mean, though, that you won’t ever write a check again. Maybe you owe a friend money and that friend prefers paper checks, for example. Or, maybe you find it easier to pay your dogsitter with a personal check rather than a lump of cash. Sometimes it’s easier and more convenient to give a check as a wedding gift than to buy a registry item.
And when you do need to pay for checks? Many people probably would think that it’s best to pay as little as possible for them. Many consumers order checks from their personal banks and then re-order when they run out. This, though, might not be the most cost-effective approach. Instead, you might save money by hunting for cheap personal checks.
Where to get cheap personal checks
You do have options when searching for cheap personal checks. Today, you can purchase checks online, order them from a national chain or buy them from your own bank or credit union.
Getting cheap personal checks online
Plenty of companies offer cheap personal checks online. When ordering checks from these retailers, though, make sure that the checks they offer meet all the requirements of the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), which Checks.com states on its Frequently Asked Questions page.
Checks.com: This online retailer sells books of 100 checks starting at $4.95, although the price varies depending on which checks you order. For example, one box of 100 Savvy checks, with duplicates costs $5.95.
Checks Unlimited: Ordering a box of 100 checks decorated with a Harley-Davidson motorcycle will cost you $21.99 at Checks Unlimited. And a box of 100 blue side-tear checks will run you $20.99.
The Bradford Exchange: The Bradford Exchange also offers plenty of options for consumers. A box of top-tear or side-tear checks contains 120 checks if you order single checks, or 100 checks if you order duplicates. A box of single parchment paper checks costs $19.95, and a box of duplicate parchment paper checks costs $22.95.
TechChecks: You may order 150 Blue Safety single checks from TechChecks for $12.95.
When ordering cheap personal checks online, you will need to provide these companies with your bank information, including its routing number and your bank account number. How long it takes your checks to arrive depends on the company. TechChecks’ website indicates that it typically ships basic checks within 48 business hours; and Checks Unlimited’s site says it takes from two-to-five business days to print and ship its checks.
Getting cheap personal checks from national chains
You also may order cheap personal checks from national chains such as Walmart and Costco, whose prices tend to be fairly cheap.
Walmart checks: You can find plenty of cheap checks at Walmart. For instance, the company offers its Pink Ribbon personal checks at $9.46 for a box of 150, with duplicates. If you want to reduce that price even more, you can get the same amount of checks for just $8.46 if you order single instead of duplicate checks.
Costco checks: Costco automatically directs its customers to the website for Harland Clarke Check Printing, the company that prints the checks for Costco. But the prices still reflect Costco’s inexpensive costs. The Costco high-security checks cost $34.90 for Costco Gold Star/Business Members for two boxes (348 checks), with duplicates; or $32.40 for the same amount of single checks.
Getting checks from your bank
Many consumers still re-order their personal checks directly from their banks. Why? Because they believe that this is the simplest solution.
Centier Bank is a good example: This bank lets customers order checks either online or by phone. When ordering by phone, customers need to provide their account numbers; and when ordering online, they need to provide their account numbers and their bank’s routing numbers.
Citizens Bank also lets customers order checks either online, phone or in person. Or, they may order new checks directly from Deluxe, the check-printing company that works with Citizens Bank.
U.S. Bank says that its customers can order replacement checks online, by phone, or at U.S. Bank ATMs or bank branches.
Some banks even offer automatic reordering so you won’t need to remember to reorder your checks. PNC Bank’s Automatic Check Reorder program tracks the number of checks that you’ve written that have cleared your account since you last reordered. Then, about three months before they expect you to run out of checks, the bank will notify you that it’s about to order your new checks. PNC Bank will mail you the checks and deduct the cost from your checking account.
Security is key no matter where you get your personal checks. Fortunately, checks today come with enhanced security features.
The Check Payment Systems Association (CPSA) explains on its website that checks with enhanced security features have a small padlock symbol printed on their fronts and backs. This symbol indicates that the check is embedded with certain security features — such as micro-printed data and security screen prints — that make it more difficult to reproduce or counterfeit.
When you are ordering cheap personal checks, whether you get them online or from your bank, make sure they include these security features.