Checks may not be used as often as they were in the past, but they are still a useful financial tool for most people to have.
Perhaps you want to buy something at a flea market from a vendor who doesn’t take plastic. Or you like to write checks as a way of keeping track of your spending since it may provide a better record than electronic transactions. Or maybe you need that voided check as a way to set up direct deposit with your employer.
Often, you’ll receive some complimentary checks when opening a checking account. However, sooner or later, you are likely to run out and need some additional checks.
When that happens, how do you order a new checkbook? Should you order through your bank? Or is there a faster, cheaper option elsewhere?
You’ll learn the answer to those questions and more in this guide to ordering checks for less.
What Are the Different Types of Checks?
There isn’t just one kind of check in the world. Get acquainted with these four common options that can play a role in managing your money.
When people wonder about how to order checks, they are typically referring to personal checks. These are the rectangular documents you usually get when you open a bank account. They allow you to transfer funds from your account to a payee, whether that’s your cousin, your WiFi provider, or your dentist.
When you first open an account, you may get a small number of what are called counter checks, which may not be fully personalized with, say, your name and address.
Then, your fully printed checks are likely to arrive, complete with your name, address, account number, and bank routing number. They are also useful when making payments and setting up direct deposit. A voided check can be used by your employer to route your paycheck to the correct account.
What’s the difference between a business check vs. a personal check? Business checks are similar to personal checks, but are drawn from a business checking account instead of a personal one. If you run your own business, you might use these checks to, say, pay for your office rent or send funds to suppliers.
Sometimes also called a bank check or official check, this is a secure payment used to make significant purchases.
A cashier’s check requires a teller to withdraw funds from your personal account and then cut a check from the bank to pay the recipient on your behalf.
With these checks, the bank is guaranteeing payment, so there is no chance the check will bounce. There is typically a fee for getting a cashier’s check, often around $10 or $15.
A certified check is a type of personal check that the bank guarantees. When you write the check, the bank verifies you have enough money in your checking account to cover the amount and may place a hold on that money until the check clears.
The bank will typically then stamp or print “certified” on the check. Fees vary depending on which bank you use and the size of the check, but are often in the $15 to $20 range.
Recommended: What Is an Electronic Check (E-Check)?
Reasons Why Checks Are Used Today
In a tap and app world, checks may seem like a byproduct of a past era. Some transactions, however, still require a check. It’s not uncommon, for instance, for some landlords to require a check for a security deposit or for some smaller businesses to prefer cash or check payment.
Here are some of the reasons why checkbooks can still be useful and even a preferred payment form:
• Checks can protect your money. A transfer can be misdirected with a typo, and cash can get lost or stolen. A check made out to the recipient is challenging to cash if it gets into the wrong hands.
• If a check is lost, you can stop payment on the check and reissue a new one.
• A check provides a paper record of payments made.
• Checks can also be a way to verify identity. A voided check (a check you pull from your checkbook and write VOID so no one can cash it) can be necessary to set up autopay or direct deposit, or as a way to verify your address for certain services. (While you can use a check with an old address, it may cause confusion and can be wise to order a checkbook of new, updated ones.)
Of course, checks have their drawbacks too.
• There can be a significant delay between the day you write a check and the day it gets processed, which could cause you to accidentally overdraw your account if you don’t keep careful records.
• Checks can sometimes get lost in transit or stolen. Since a check is good for six months, it can be a good idea to cancel any checks that don’t get to the intended recipient in a timely fashion.
• Checks can also come with fees (such as when cashing a check) and other costs (like having to buy checks).
Fortunately, there are ways to cash a check without a fee. And, if you look beyond your bank when it comes to re-ordering checks, you can often pay significantly less.
Where Can I Order Checks?
Many people will order checks through their bank simply because it’s convenient. These often cost about $20 per box of one hundred, though they may be less or even free if you are a premium account holder.
However, you don’t have to buy your checks at your bank. There are numerous online vendors, such as Checks In The Mail and Carousel Checks, as well as big box retailers (such as Costco and Walmart) that offer customized personal checks that include the same security features as bank checks.
Prices can range from five cents to twenty-plus cents per check, and minimum orders might be anywhere from 25 checks to almost 500.
But how do you order checks from the best vendor? Because you need to input sensitive information, such as your bank account number and the routing information for your bank, it can be a good idea to make sure you choose a vendor that takes security measures seriously and also that the checks you buy are secure.
Some actions that can help maximize security:
• Making sure the site where you buy checks is secure. A lock image in the address bar of your browser indicates a secure connection and that any information transmitted, such as your bank account info, will be done in a secure manner.
• Choosing a reputable seller. It can be a good idea to vet any company you are considering buying checks from by taking a look at their Better Business Bureau ratings and reviews.
• Considering security features. Some check printing companies offer enhanced security features, including watermarks, hard-to-copy microprint, hologram foil, and thermochromic ink (ink that disappears with heat). These features can add to the cost of your checks, but they can make your check payments even more secure.
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What You Need for Ordering Checks Online
When you’re wondering “How do I order checks online?” it can be wise to have some key information ready to complete your transaction. This typically includes:
• Your personal information. This is your name (or the name of your company for business checks) and address.
• Bank information. This includes the name and address of your bank, which you can find on your existing checks.
• Your checking account number. You can find this at the bottom of your existing checks or on your bank statement. Of the three listed numbers along the bottom of your check, your account number will be the second number from the left.
• Your bank routing number. Also known as an ABA number, this number serves as an address so the banking system knows which bank will pay the check. You’ll want to look for the nine-digit number on the bottom left of your checks.
• Check number. To keep your finances organized, it’s a good idea to have your new checks start with the next number in your checkbook series. For instance, if the last check in your last checkbook is 199, consider starting the new set with check number 200.
When ordering checks, you may want to keep in mind that, depending on the company, production time may take a few weeks. That’s why It can be a good idea to order checks well before you may need them.
Recommended: What Is a Voucher Check?
Protecting Your Money With SoFi
If you’re like many Americans, you probably don’t use checks often these days. But checks are still with us, and it can be a good idea to always have checks on hand for those times when you need or want to pay by check.
Buying checks from the bank can be pricey though. Fortunately, it’s fine to search the web for cheaper options, provided you take some security precautions.
Prefer to get all of your checks for free? SoFi Checking and Savings offers paper checks at no cost when you open an online bank account. Plus, SoFi helps you bank better in other ways: You’ll earn a competitive annual percentage yield (APY) and pay no account fees, which can mean your money grows faster. And you’ll spend and save in one convenient place, which may simplify your financial life.
Can you print checks by yourself?
It is possible and legal to print checks at home. However, you will need the tools to do so, including a printer, software to format the checks properly, special paper (known as check stock paper) with security features, a magnetic ink character-recognition font (for the numbers at the bottom of the checks in a way that can be read electronically), and magnetic ink.
How much does it cost to order checkbooks?
When you order additional checkbooks from a bank, a box of 100 may cost $20 or more. Some banks and premium accounts will lower or even eliminate that fee. When you order from check companies or mass merchants, the per-check price can range from a few cents to more than 20 cents per check, with orders ranging from 25 to 480 or more checks.
Do I have to order checks through my bank?
You do not have to order checks through your bank. If you want to, you may order from online check companies or merchants like Costco and Walmart.
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