From large purchases to paying rent and taxes, here are some reasons why banking customers still write and use paper checks.
While nearly everyone has a smartphone or a computer and access to an array of digital payment apps these days, a surprising number of people still prefer to write a check for some of their payment needs. Paying important bills—where you need proof of the transaction—and giving gifts are the leading reasons people put their pen to a paper check.
However, the tide is clearly running against the use of checks. The Federal Reserve found that checks accounted for the smallest category of non-cash payments in the U.S. in 2021. In fact, the number of checks written has decreased so much in recent years that the Fed has gone from 45 check-processing centers across the country to just one (in Atlanta).
But clearly some people still rely on paper checks for their important transactions—$27 trillion worth, according to the Fed. One factor is age: A survey by the Atlanta Federal Reserve Bank from October 2022 found that while 52.3% of people aged 45 to 64 write checks regularly, only 8.6% of those under 24 are regular check writers, as are a third of those between ages 25 and 45.
What Is a Personal Check?
Personal checks are a traditional method of making payments, typically used for transactions like paying bills or making in-person purchases. These paper documents are issued by an individual's bank - connected to their checking account - and contain the account holder's details and a specified amount, which can be transferred to the payee upon endorsement.
Reasons You Still Need Checks
It’s still important to know how to write and read a check, solely because there are a number of circumstances that may require you to use one. Certain payments are likely to be better suited to checks over digital payment alternatives, especially for people with spotty internet access. The most common transactions involving checks are for rent, utilities, taxes and other payments to the government, payments to contractors, gifts to charities, payments for healthcare, and education expenses such as tuition payments.
Many people also still use checks instead of cash to give monetary gifts. It’s a more secure form of payment, especially if mailing a card. In addition, it’s more convenient for the recipient since they can use a mobile check deposit feature on their smartphone to immediately add the funds to their bank account. If the gift had been cash, they would have to physically deposit the money at a bank branch or ATM.
While most people have transitioned away from check writing on a day-to-day basis, they are still one of the most commonly used forms of payment for large purchases. This can include things like childcare or tuition payments, tax payments, and debt payoffs.
The Benefits of Paying With Checks
If you’re considering utilizing your Fifth Third Bank Checking Account to its fullest capacity by writing checks, here are 3 benefits you’ll enjoy.
- Improved Security: While checks aren’t bulletproof when it comes to safety, they are a step up from using cash. Importantly, paying with checks creates a paper trail that serves as proof of payment. In addition, anyone can use cash that's intercepted. But it’s much harder (and riskier) to cash someone else’s check.
- Avoid Credit Card Processing Fees: Many retailers charge a processing fee on credit card transactions. Usually, it costs between 1.5% and 3.5% of the transaction amount. That can add up if you’re making large purchases or frequently visiting small businesses who charge this fee. Writing a check can save you money at these establishments.
- Increase Your Payment Options: With a checkbook on hand, you’re ready for any vendor or service provider you end up using. Contractors, lawn services, and other providers may offer limited forms of payment. Keeping checks nearby prepares you for any type of payment that might arise.
Looking for a checking account with check-writing abilities? Explore your options from Fifth Third Bank.