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Plan B
10-14-2007, 07:40 PM
I have a couple left but I have a few things which I can't pay for online coming up this week.

I ordered new checks; maybe they'll arrive tomorrow and this thread isn't necessary.

In the meantime, I seem to remember hearing that I can just walk into my bank and they'll give me blank checks and I'll fill in my account #. Is that true?

Sorry if this is a dumb question. I honestly have never had this problem before.

fisha
10-14-2007, 07:41 PM
I have a couple left but I have a few things which I can't pay for online coming up this week.

I ordered new checks; maybe they'll arrive tomorrow and this thread isn't necessary.

In the meantime, I seem to remember hearing that I can just walk into my bank and they'll give me blank checks and I'll fill in my account #. Is that true?

Sorry if this is a dumb question. I honestly have never had this problem before.


Yes, they will.

Susie Derkins
10-14-2007, 08:01 PM
Mine will even print some out for me with my account number and other info already on the check. With the exception of the background, they look just like my regular checks.

alphaboi867
10-14-2007, 08:41 PM
Yes, they will.
Just don't try using them in a retail store.

NicePete
10-14-2007, 09:00 PM
Your bank could also issue cashier's checks for you, if there's a concern about someone accepting a counter check. There may be a small charge for a cashier's check, though (~$1 each).

Santo Rugger
10-14-2007, 09:19 PM
1. Switch to Plan B? :D

2. Use Cash

3. Have the bank print a few up for you. Damn Wells Fargo charges for it, witch is one of the many reasons I've quit using them.

TheLoadedDog
10-14-2007, 09:25 PM
I'm thirty-seven, and I've so far lived, worked, run a business, travelled, and have never written a single cheque. Never felt the need to. What am I missing?

Shagnasty
10-14-2007, 09:31 PM
I guess this wouldn't be the Straight Dope without pointing out that your checks you have gotten used to are just pieces of paper created by a print shop that gives you the option of Christmas themes or wildlife in the background. They have no special legal standing. You can write a legal check on a dirty napkin or print one out on your computer if you want to (a viable option that many people use). However, if you try to pay for your groceries with some scrawl on a dirty napkin, the cashier will most likely tell you to turn tail because they don't have to sell you anything at all. If you try to pay an electric bill with the same, a court of law will eventually rule that you made legal payment although that may result in more hassle than you want to get into.

https://academicpursuits.us/classics/a2_352b.html

EvilGhandi
10-14-2007, 09:38 PM
Don't forget the tried and true method of buying a money order with your debit card.

Sunspace
10-14-2007, 09:47 PM
I'm thirty-seven, and I've so far lived, worked, run a business, travelled, and have never written a single cheque. Never felt the need to. What am I missing?Well, here in the primitive East Pacific societies of Canada and the United States, cheques are used often between individuals instead of larger amounts of cash. Many retail businesses will no longer accept them, but those that don't always take debit cards or credit cards.

I pay my rent with a cheque. I pay my counselor by cheque. Those are the two main uses; my shopping is either cash or debit card; my pay is direct-deposited. I pay most bills by online banking; for a few things I load money onto my prepaid Mastercard and use that.

How do you pay your rent?

TheLoadedDog
10-14-2007, 10:20 PM
How do you pay your rent?
Cash. I have a private rental agreement and my landlord is just next door. In the past, at previous addresses, I have paid it through direct debit from my bank account, or through the DEFT scheme at my local post office. I do all my banking online, and pay all my bills that way. I haven't set foot in a bank queue for years. I go to the ATM for a little "beer money". I have two incomes, both deposited into my bank account directly. My last cash pay was in 1989.

Plan B
10-14-2007, 10:53 PM
thanks

Sapo
10-14-2007, 11:00 PM
Call the people you need to pay. They might take a check-by-phone, where you just give them your bank info and they take care of the rest. Most large companies (utilities, lenders, insurance, banks) do.

BobT
10-14-2007, 11:27 PM
If your balance is high enough, you might not even get a charge for the cashier's check. Mine doesn't. When I had a rent check get lost, I walked from work to my bank, got the check, and then walked to a FedEx office to send my landlord the new one.

DrDeth
10-15-2007, 12:47 AM
Money Orders work OK for many bills.

Richard Pearse
10-15-2007, 01:20 AM
How do you pay your rent?

I also don't use checks. Rent is paid by direct deposit via online banking. Anything else is either direct deposit or debit/credit cards.

Frylock
10-15-2007, 01:59 AM
I also haven't used checks in a couple of years except to pay rent once a month. Online banking is a wonderful thing. Especially for me because I was always forgetting to pay for things. Now I don't even have to think about it.

Some of you are probably tut-tutting.

-FrL-

LSLGuy
10-15-2007, 09:04 AM
For the Aussies & others from more advanced societies than us 'Merkins ...

For whatever reason, we're 10+ years behind you in electronic banking. Many banks will process a paper check for free but charge a couple bucks to pay thesame bill as an online transaction. Not surprisingly with a fee structure like that, paper checks linger on.

This is slowly changing, and in 5 years we'll probably be where you are.

But for now, about 2/3rd of Americans write paper checks to pay most ro all their monthly bills.

Plan B
10-15-2007, 10:02 AM
Just got back from bank. They gave me five checks. No problem. Thanks again

Elendil's Heir
10-15-2007, 10:09 AM
Glad it worked out!

I write checks for virtually all of our household's monthly bills. The only bills I regularly have directly charged to my credit cards are for cable TV and our Internet connection. I don't mind the time or trouble of writing checks. I don't want too many automatic taps on my credit cards; nor do I want any vendor or service provider having direct access to my bank accounts.

TheLoadedDog
10-15-2007, 10:23 AM
For the Aussies & others from more advanced societies than us 'Merkins ...

For whatever reason, we're 10+ years behind you in electronic banking. Many banks will process a paper check for free but charge a couple bucks to pay thesame bill as an online transaction. Not surprisingly with a fee structure like that, paper checks linger on.

This is slowly changing, and in 5 years we'll probably be where you are.

But for now, about 2/3rd of Americans write paper checks to pay most ro all their monthly bills.

Aah, thanks for that. Cheques still get written here in healthy numbers, but usually only by businesses or - I'm guessing - folks over forty or fifty or so (my parents run their finances primarily by cheque). Australian banks - like banks everywhere these days - are killers for fees, and it seems they're making cheques more expensive than ever, and making clearance times longer than ever. They're also closing bank branches, and many accounts (mine included) charge a hefty fee for "human assisted withdrawals" as they call them. Online banking is the cheapest option for me, as well as being by far the most convenient. As well as people being reluctant to write cheques, we also groan when we receive one, because that's a trip to the bank.

I don't want too many automatic taps on my credit cards; nor do I want any vendor or service provider having direct access to my bank accounts.

I feel the same way. Most Australian companies and utilities push hard to get people to sign up for direct debiting. This is because they get their money faster. I resist this for all I can, even when they offer incentives (I had to pay $200 security deposit to get the electricity connected, or no deposit if I signed up for direct debit. I chose to pay the $200 - just on principle: if I'm a "no pay" risk on a billing system, what's the difference between that and my cleaning out my bank account before they try to access it?).

So I do all my banking online, but the vast majority of it is manually initiated by me. I sit down in front of my computer and pay my bills each month. It takes five minutes, and the companies don't have to know Jack about my account details. We have a system called BPay, whereby each billing company has a code number, and I just instruct my online banking to pay X amount to code number Y. I can even automate it to make regular payments, but that's still initiated by me and not them. I can also do it over the phone or at a post office. Then there's the BSB system which is similar, and is used to transfer money to individuals - beats Western Union.

Nanoda
10-15-2007, 10:24 AM
Glad it worked out!

I write checks for virtually all of our household's monthly bills. The only bills I regularly have directly charged to my credit cards are for cable TV and our Internet connection. I don't mind the time or trouble of writing checks. I don't want too many automatic taps on my credit cards; nor do I want any vendor or service provider having direct access to my bank accounts.

When I log in to my bank's website, I can choose from a list of businesses (http://tdcanadatrust.com/ebanking/billnat.jsp), set up my account number, and then have them show up in a list of people I can pay in 2 mouseclicks (or set them up as a monthly automated payment). Even picking up a pen seems like a PITA to me compared now.

Sunspace
10-15-2007, 10:38 AM
So I do all my banking online, but the vast majority of it is manually initiated by me. Yes. I prefer to make the bill payments at my time, not theirs, because if I set up auto withdrawls, I always forget about one and mess myself up.I sit down in front of my computer and pay my bills each month...As do I. The banks have lists of companies they can accept bill payments for, and if the bill you want to pay is on the list, you're in luck. Then there's the BSB system which is similar, and is used to transfer money to individuals - beats Western Union.Ah. That's the thing we Canadians don't have. We can't easily send money to any arbitrary bank account within the banking system, without getting into the old "wiring money for a $25 fee" mentality.

We do have something called Interac Email Maney Transfer (http://certapay.com/en/), in which you send an email to someone, and it cantains a link to download the money into the recipients bank account, but it's not used as much as one would think. You need to know an email address for the recipient, and not everyone has one. It only costs $1.50 though.

gigi
10-15-2007, 01:35 PM
I'm thirty-seven, and I've so far lived, worked, run a business, travelled, and have never written a single cheque. Never felt the need to. What am I missing?
!'m 39.
I write a check for rent, payable to an individual.
I write a check for car and renter's insurance. I could do this on-line, but years ago I couldn't.
I occasionally write checks to business for goods and services, when I don't want to carry my cards.
I write checks to the credit card company. I could do this on-line, but years ago I couldn't.
I'm sure there are more. And when I was treasurer at the library, I paid everything using checks.

DrDeth
10-15-2007, 02:08 PM
But for now, about 2/3rd of Americans write paper checks to pay most ro all their monthly bills.

Yes. But only bills. Those that shop with checks annoy the hell out of me.

Myglaren
10-15-2007, 02:25 PM
Most major stores here won't accept cheques any more.

Would anyone from Sweden like to confirm that cheques are no longer used there at all?

I washed my cheque book last week, in my jeans pocket. It isn't a whole lot of use now. Not that it will be missed, I have written three cheques in the past two years.

gigi
10-15-2007, 03:27 PM
Yes. But only bills. Those that shop with checks annoy the hell out of me.
What if I fill out most of the check ahead of time and it doesn't take much more time than a card? Around here they don't check ID so it takes less time than cash.

DrDeth
10-15-2007, 06:53 PM
What if I fill out most of the check ahead of time and it doesn't take much more time than a card? Around here they don't check ID so it takes less time than cash.

I occassionaly help out at by buddie's retail operation around the holidays. Checks are annoying to retailers too, and to the dudes standing in line. What's wrong with a check-card? But thank you for havong them filled out at least. :cool: Most women don't even have their purse open, let alone the check mostly filled out. :p

Myglaren
10-15-2007, 07:01 PM
You didn't need to fill out a check here, the checkout operator fed it into a printer that filled in everything but your signature.

It is nice, if rare, to see that someone is actually prepared to pay when the time comes instead of fiddling around in pockets and handbags at the very last minute.
Twerps!

Bagistan
10-15-2007, 08:05 PM
Would anyone from Sweden like to confirm that cheques are no longer used there at all?

No longer used perhaps, but still accepted at many retailers. I worked part-time as a cashier in 2000-2004 in Sweden and we accepted cheques. I think I saw two cheques during my years there.

Cheques for paying bills (invoices) were obsolete long before the computer age in Sweden thanks to an extensive giro (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Giro) system.

So, in Sweden, your local supermarket would be much more likely to accept a cheque than your landlord. Not that any Swede would try either.

KneadToKnow
10-15-2007, 08:19 PM
You didn't need to fill out a check here, the checkout operator fed it into a printer that filled in everything but your signature.
Wouldn't do me any good: I use two-part checks, the kind with the built-in copy.

Yag Rannavach
10-15-2007, 09:05 PM
Many banks will process a paper check for free but charge a couple bucks to pay thesame bill as an online transaction. Not surprisingly with a fee structure like that, paper checks linger on.

You sure about that? HSBC, Bank of America, ING, Citibank, and Countrywide bank all offer free online bill paying.


As do I. The banks have lists of companies they can accept bill payments for, and if the bill you want to pay is on the list, you're in luck.

My bank lets me type in the info of who it should be payable to (and where). I've never tried writing a payment to myself, though, so I'm not sure exactly what happens when I fill it out and say "send payment". Maybe it validates based on a hidden list?

fisha
10-15-2007, 09:14 PM
I write a lot of checks for the business, and quite a bit for personal bills as well.

One thing that frustrates me, is that very few government entities take credit. Check or cash only. The building permits, the licenses, motor vehicles. Stupid.

TheLoadedDog
10-15-2007, 09:29 PM
You sure about that? HSBC, Bank of America, ING, Citibank, and Countrywide bank all offer free online bill paying.

I think I can see where the difference is now.

A lot of our utilities and the like have an online bill paying feature, each indigenous to their company: you sit down, enter your c/c details, and away you go. I almost never use those, because of BPay.

I'm not sure if there's a North American analogue to BPay. As far as I can tell, it's a private company that all the banks and billing businesses have signed up to - a bit like the banks sign up with Mastercard and Visacard. You can pay through the bank, but it's BPay that processes the transaction (I assume they make their money from merchant fees). So there's no ad hoc bank-by-bank approach to online banking these days - they all have their own web facilities with different bells and whistles, but the basics are generic to all banks and billers: go to your bank's online banking page (whatever the bank), enter the biller code and the customer code (these appear on your bill as one of the payment options), the amount, the date you want to pay it, and the account you want to draw the money from. Once this has been done once, the fields are populated for you, and next time, if you don't want to change anything you just select the biller from a list, and hit submit.

lizardling
10-15-2007, 11:23 PM
I write a lot of checks for the business, and quite a bit for personal bills as well.

One thing that frustrates me, is that very few government entities take credit. Check or cash only. The building permits, the licenses, motor vehicles. Stupid.

Aye. When I went to renew my car tabs recently, to use my credit card I had to head 'round to a terminal set up and do the whole online song and dance. Then I could go back to the window and pick up the tabs once the order hit the printer. I found it all rather a bit silly. Don't they process enough tabs and whatnot to afford the CC processing charges? :p

Martini Enfield
10-16-2007, 05:29 AM
My experiences vis a vis cheques match TheLoadedDog's... if I want to pay any of my bills, I go to the Post Office and pay them over the counter there (made possible because of Bpay), or if I can't get to the Post Office, I phone the bill issuer up and use my credit card.

The only dealings I have with cheques at a personal level are the ones I receive when I get an article published in the magazine I write for, at which point I take them to the Post Office ([email protected] is a wonderful thing!) and deposit them. Never had to actually write a cheque, nor can I envision a situation when I'd need to- if I can't pay by Bpay or Credit Card, then I can get a Money Order from the Post Office which can be redeemed at any other Post Office in Australia.

We get a few cheques coming through work from businesses purchasing things, but almost never from private individuals- the cheque verification procedure is comparatively time-consuming and everyone has EFTPOS and/or Credit Cards, so there's really not much call for cheques for non-business use anymore.

gigi
10-16-2007, 12:20 PM
Checks are annoying to retailers too, and to the dudes standing in line. What's wrong with a check-card?
In my case, I'm a food addict and if I carry a card, I will use it to buy food and more food. If I know ahead of time what stores I will go to (for necessity non-food items), I fill out a check for each one with the store name before I leave the house. This prevents unauthorized spending on the card. I am aware that I am an outlier, though, and make sure to be very efficient with the filling out of the check.

elfkin477
10-16-2007, 12:29 PM
You sure about that? HSBC, Bank of America, ING, Citibank, and Countrywide bank all offer free online bill paying. Both my current bank (BankNorth) and the one before (Granite State Bank) charge $6/month for online banking. Unless you open a new account in which case it's now free, which ticks me off. Since I only have a couple of bills that don't have an automatic debit system themselves, I'm not about to pay $3 a month for each of the others.

Sunspace
10-16-2007, 01:06 PM
I think I can see where the difference is now.

A lot of our utilities and the like have an online bill paying feature, each indigenous to their company: you sit down, enter your c/c details, and away you go. I almost never use those, because of BPay.

I'm not sure if there's a North American analogue to BPay. As far as I can tell, it's a private company that all the banks and billing businesses have signed up to - a bit like the banks sign up with Mastercard and Visacard.Sounds like a logical next step for the Interac Association in Canada to take. That, and the person-to-person transfer. (And they're almost there with that.)

When you use the person-to-person transfer (BSB?), does it take place entirely within the banking system? Is it available to every account holder?

What's "DEFT"?

Sunspace
10-16-2007, 01:07 PM
Cheques for paying bills (invoices) were obsolete long before the computer age in Sweden thanks to an extensive giro (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Giro) system.Thanks for the clarification on the giro. I'd heard the term occasionally, but never understood it before.

TheLoadedDog
10-16-2007, 01:51 PM
Sounds like a logical next step for the Interac Association in Canada to take. That, and the person-to-person transfer. (And they're almost there with that.)

When you use the person-to-person transfer (BSB?), does it take place entirely within the banking system? Is it available to every account holder?

Yes. BSB stands for "Bank-Suburb-Branch." Basically, the banks all got together and streamlined their systems so that each have account numbers in the same format of say, 12345678 rather than one bank having JZ-123-T and another having 11-A-thy, then each huge banking corporation has its code number, and the suburb/town/branch has another code, so BIG C0NGLOMERATE BANK might be 02, downtown Sydney might be 5430...

So if you want to pay me, you go to your online banking, hit "Transfer money", and...

BSB?
025340

ACCOUNT?

12345678

ACCOUNT NAME?
Mr. T. L. Dog
(this acts as a crosscheck with the numbers against typos)

Amount?
$500

SUBMIT


Is this correct?

YES

Your receipt number is N34756534 - save for your records


You might find it's instant for customers with the same bank, and max 48 hours for different ones.

What's "DEFT"?

Stands for Dsomebullshit Eor other Funds Transfer. It's a proprietary rent payment system that was big in the 90s, but limited compared to BPay and BSB transfers, and I'm not sure if it's still going. Basically, in the bad old days, you'd go to the real estate agent that managed your property and pay cash for your rent. Then they got held up too many times, so DEFT gave you a plastic card and you could pay your rent at the post office. It's probably dead by now.

Martini Enfield
10-16-2007, 10:22 PM
Stands for Dsomebullshit Eor other Funds Transfer. It's a proprietary rent payment system that was big in the 90s, but limited compared to BPay and BSB transfers, and I'm not sure if it's still going. Basically, in the bad old days, you'd go to the real estate agent that managed your property and pay cash for your rent. Then they got held up too many times, so DEFT gave you a plastic card and you could pay your rent at the post office. It's probably dead by now.

I believe it is- most Real Estate Agents here accept rental payments via Direct Debit, Credit Card, or Bpay.

I would assume "DEFT" stood for Direct Electronic Funds Transfer, which seems a bit redundant, not to mention easily confused with EFTPOS or standard EFT...

Zsofia
10-17-2007, 12:48 PM
Some people also end up using checks when, say, you get a home equity loan to build an addition to your house - they send you checks, and that works out because often "Ted and his buddies" don't take credit cards, you know. Checks are still very popular as a method of paying small time contractors.

D_Odds
10-17-2007, 02:03 PM
Checks are still very popular as a method of paying small time contractors.That's the only time we'll physically write a check, and only if we are too busy to get to the bank to make a cash withdrawal the day before.

My wife and I bank with Citibank - several accounts. I never write a check. I can, however, have Citibank write the check and mail it for me. It takes away my ability to play the float, but it also takes away my ability to bounce a check (well, that and overdraft protection). My pay is direct deposited. I automatically pay monthly bills on one of the deposit days. By paying on my pay schedule, I never have to worry about a provider trying to take money that isn't there. By scheduling payments to coincide with payday, I always know there are funds available. Then I can sweep money into an interest bearing account, and use my mobile phone to transfer it back to checking if I exceed my 'allowance' for the pay period.

For the record, I'm a 'merkin and I'm over 40. I have been using banks' automated payment systems for two decades, back when Chase had Bank-by-Phone. I despise checks, and will always try for another option. Run out of checks? I'm still on the box I got ~10 years ago when I opened the account.

Sofaspud
10-17-2007, 03:34 PM
My wife and I haven't written a check in years. Our credit union has online banking that is awesome. We can go online, set up a check-pay account to whoever we want, including private people (or ourselves, if we're feeling masochistic), tell 'em we want a check cut for $x amount, and the bank cuts it and sends it -- including whatever Memo line information we want, if any; account numbers, mostly.

The money comes out of our account immediately, so there's no question of available funds; the check itself has a unique account number that only works for that one transaction, so there's no problem with ID theft (which is a real problem with checks these days), and we can get a copy of it any time, again, online.

Plus the bank guarantees delivery on checks cut this way. If someone claims they didn't get the check, the bank investigates it for you and will cover any fees if it turns out to be true. They got a credit for me on my utilities payment when the city claimed I hadn't paid them. Turns out I had, they'd applied it to the wrong account.

We pay nothing for this. It's all part of the service.

There are some limits -- no more than X checks per month, but X is some ridiculously large number as far as we're concerned, and you can only store (I think) 20 accounts at any one time, but again, no problem there. Before I moved over to paying by card, I paid all my bills this way -- rent, car payment, utilities, you name it.

Anyway, the reason I like it is because there's no fee for it AND there's no requirement that the merchant be part of some bank-approved association. I can cut a check to anyone and never touch the checkbook myself. BankAmerica had this a while ago, I think, but when I was with them (not for long!), they only supported 'authorized' merchants and you couldn't cut a check online to just anybody.

I love my bank. Credit union. Whatever. :)

D_Odds: I'm with you on that. Last time a plumber was working on our property, my wife went down to the bank (only a few blocks away) to get the cash to pay him while he was packing up his tools. He would've been fine with a check (he said); I offered him a beer in exchange for waiting a few minutes so I didn't have to write one. I despise paper checks. (He seemed to think it was a good deal, go figure :))

gigi
10-17-2007, 04:03 PM
D_Odds: I'm with you on that. Last time a plumber was working on our property, my wife went down to the bank (only a few blocks away) to get the cash to pay him while he was packing up his tools. He would've been fine with a check (he said); I offered him a beer in exchange for waiting a few minutes so I didn't have to write one. I despise paper checks. (He seemed to think it was a good deal, go figure :))I thought the check had the advantage of being a paper trail to prove you paid. I guess a receipt might be enough?

Sofaspud
10-17-2007, 04:42 PM
I thought the check had the advantage of being a paper trail to prove you paid. I guess a receipt might be enough?
In my opinion, yep.

When it comes to tradesmen, I don't hire them in the first place if they seem to be the sort of place that would cause the sorts of issues that I'd need a paper trail for. The receipt should be enough in most cases, anyway -- as long as you hang on to it, I guess. :)

For some things, I'd rather have the trail, though. Usually creditors of one stripe or another. That's why I have the bank cut checks to them, so there IS a trail. I tell ya, the hassle I went through after paying one of the bills in person with cash was ENOUGH. Never again. (Of course they never recieved payment. Riiiight.)

I'd probably use (online, bank-sent) checks if I was paying a general contractor to add onto my house or something, but paying the plumber for snaking a drain? Nah. :)

But I still won't reach for my paper checkbook. Hates it. HATES IT!

fluiddruid
10-17-2007, 06:31 PM
As a perpetual checkbook-misplacer, I've found that cashiers checks are overpriced ($5+ at most banks as an accountholder). I usually just take out cash and then go to the grocery store or post office and buy a money order (around $1) for any situation where starter checks might be unwelcome.

Dunderman
10-18-2007, 07:15 PM
Would anyone from Sweden like to confirm that cheques are no longer used there at all?Actually, just the other week I saw someone using a cheque at the grocery store. It was the first time in twenty years that I'd seen such a thing. I text messaged a friend about it. She was incredulous and asked if the cashier even knew how to handle it.

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