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Out of checks? Getting more from your bank or credit union is convenient, but it’s not your only option. You can order personal checks from other sources, sometimes for a lower cost.
Though paper checks are becoming a less common method of payment, they’re still often used for paying rent, for kids’ activities or even for a box of Girl Scout cookies. They can also be a more secure way of sending money than cash.
» Skip ahead to see retailer options for ordering checks
Checks from your bank
Banks — especially major national banks — typically offer checks to their customers, but you may need to reach out to the customer service team to get the prices. Some banks might give you some checks for free when you open a checking account, but if you want to order more, the new checks might be free, discounted or full-price depending on the kind of account you have.
» MORE: Learn about the parts of a check
Another option is to have your bank send checks on your behalf for bill pay, which may be available for free through your checking account.
Checks from online printers
Are checks from online printers just as good? They have to be if they want to be universally accepted, according to the Check Payment Systems Association, an industry group for check printers. “All reputable check printing companies produce checks according to industry standards to ensure that checks will be accepted by banks and merchants alike,” says Steven Antolick, executive director of the CPSA.
The association recommends that check printers incorporate security features designed to thwart counterfeiters, such as microprinted letters and nearly invisible security screens. “Many check printers in the U.S. have been certified by the CPSA for use of the padlock icon — the little lock symbol that you see on the face of many checks — and this means that the company has incorporated at least a minimum number of security features to protect against alteration and duplication of the check,” Antolick says.
Before you order checks from an unfamiliar company, look at whether it offers safety and privacy features. Examples may include the CPSA logo or accreditation from the Better Business Bureau.
Checks from big-box stores
You can also get cheap personal checks at the same big-box stores where you get paper towels by the case. Costco, Sam’s Club and Walmart offer inexpensive check printing. The checks are produced by Harland Clarke, which is CPSA-certified whether the checks are sold under the Harland Clarke name or that of the store, Antolick says. Just like with the paper towels, you might end up ordering a large quantity to get the discount.
How to get cheap personal checks
To spend the least on refill checks, follow these five strategies.
Ask your bank for any available free checks. Check with your financial institution first — you might score some for free, especially if your account has preferred status. If you need just one or two checks in a hurry, ask a teller for counter checks. There may be a small charge for these checks.
Check online for discounts. If you search online for “promo code for ordering checks,” you may find discount codes at savings websites such as Groupon.com and RetailMeNot.com.
Choose plain designs. To pay the least per check, choose value designs such as safety blue. Skip upgrades such as duplicate checks or customized photo designs.
Buy in bulk. If you order several boxes, you’ll probably get a volume discount.
Skip the add-ons. When ordering checks, you’ll be asked to enter information such as your bank routing number, checking account number and other details. You may be offered add-ons, such as fraud protection, expedited printing and trackable shipping, and these will increase your final bill. For the best value, decline all such extras.
Options for ordering personal checks
Alternatives to checks
If you don’t want to pay for a full box of checks, consider the following alternatives:
Make a money transfer. If your bank offers Zelle, you can send money to another person who’s also enrolled in the service.
Use a peer-to-peer payment app. Apps such as Venmo, PayPal and Cash App allow users to send money to each other, although there may be fees for immediate withdrawals from your balance. If you don’t pay the fee, you may need to wait a few business days for your withdrawal to land in your bank account.
Buy a cashier’s check or a money order from your bank or credit union. Cashier’s checks and money orders are a one-off way to withdraw money immediately from your bank account and give it to your recipient. Sometimes there is a fee to buy one of these options, but they can also sometimes be free, depending on your bank account.
The bottom line
When you run out of checks, it’s often most convenient to order them from your bank, and if you’re a premium checking customer, they may be free. Otherwise, ordering refill checks from elsewhere can be a money-saving option; just be sure to stick with reputable companies. Don’t pay more than necessary for little slips of paper that allow you to spend your own money.
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