Are you in the market for cheap personal checks, but aren't sure where to start? If you're one of the 62% of Americans who use paper checks - at least from time to time - then you no doubt want a more affordable place to buy them than your bank. While mail-order check printing companies have been around for decades, the Internet makes it even easier to buy checks.
It can be nerve-wracking to reveal your personal information and bank account number on a website in an effort to save money over bank checks. Fortunately, there are several highly reputable companies which print bank-quality financial products for a fraction of the cost. Below you'll find the results of my analysis of the top 5 places to buy cheap personal checks. I also reviewed the best business check ordering companies.
What to Consider When Ordering Personal Checks
The Best Cheap Personal Checks
There are numerous advantages of using an online check ordering company. Aside from the obvious, which is not ever having to leave home in order to replenish your supply, you'll also enjoy the following:
1. Cost Savings
You'll pay half or less of the typical price for bank checks. Plus, the more you buy at one time, the more you'll save in most cases.
When you order cheap checks online you can truly make them your own. There is a multitude of customization options available, from colors to graphics to fonts. I will elaborate further on this fun topic later on in the review.
As long as you order from a reputable company, even the cheapest checks online meet the security standards set by the CPSA (Check Payment Systems Association). These include features like special safety paper, treatment that makes stains appear if someone attempts to chemically alter the check, and erasure protection.
4. Accessories and Supplies
Why settle for the boring vanilla vinyl checkbook cover issued by your bank when you can have checkbook accessories that match your checks - and your personality? Online check ordering companies often sell a bevy of other products like stationery, address labels, and address stampers.
When you order cheap checks online you can truly make them your own. There is a multitude of customization options available, from colors to graphics to fonts.
You may be worried about ordering a financial instrument over the Internet, and of course, you should take common sense measures to protect your banking information. The good news is that the CPSA security features and other advanced fraud prevention measures are working. According to the American Bankers Association (ABA), it's factors, like check security features which helped stop 85% of fraud attempts in 2014.
Finding the Cheapest Personal Checks Online
Now you know all of the factors that contribute to the wisdom of finding the cheapest checks online rather than paying inflated bank prices. It's time to talk about where to go to find these great deals. Rather than letting you fly blind, I've compiled a list of the top suppliers from whom to order cheap checks. First, though, it's important to understand how to find a trustworthy company if you choose to go it on your own and purchase from a site other than one of the five in my review.
Security should be your number one concern when purchasing discounted checks, so do your due diligence and you'll protect yourself from problems.
Discount Checks Should Meet Standards
Even though you're paying less than retail for your discounted checks, that doesn't mean you shouldn't hold them to the same security standards as those from your bank. They need to meet the guidelines of the CPSA, which require checks to have a minimum of three security features that deter fraud.
Discount checks - in addition to all others - must display the CPSA padlock symbol indicating compliance with the requirements. The padlock is printed on the front and back of the check and is counted as one security feature in and of itself. Two more must be present, as explained by the CPSA. Security should be your number one concern when purchasing discounted checks, so do your due diligence and you'll protect yourself from problems.
While I'm on the topic of security, you may also know that the way checks are processed these days differs greatly from times gone by when it took a good week or two for a check to clear. For a comprehensive overview of precisely what happens to your check after you write it, check out the U.S. Department of the Treasury's informational page on the topic.
The Best Places to Order Cheap Checks Online
Checks Unlimited Review
- Over 100 custom designs
- Numerous security features
- Competitive pricing
- CPSA compliant
- Promotions for loyal customers
- Custom check selection is not as wide as some providers
- Some complaints about confusion over new customer discount
Checks Unlimited has over 110 designs to choose from, ranging from simple and contemporary styles to entertaining graphics. While 110 designs may seem like quite a bit, many of Check Unlimited's primary competitors offer significantly more.
One of the unique things about Checks Unlimited is that they allow you to order personal photo checks with multiple images, which is a feature the other competitors don't offer. This allows you to upload up to four of your favorite photos for a variety of check designs. In addition to the design choices, you can choose from a number of check types, including duplicate and side-tear checks.
Compared to the other online check printing services, Checks Unlimited may seem a little pricey. Their prices are usually cheaper than buying checks from your local bank, but you may find them to be higher when than the other check printing services reviewed here. If you purchase multiple boxes, however, you can expect to see significant savings.
Check Advantage Review
- Extensive, unique design selection
- Excellent customization options
- Competitive pricing
- CPSA compliant
- Good customer service
- Certain licensed themes may be unavailable
Check Advantage is a great resource for unusual, eye-catching designs. They've been in business since 2001 and feature an enormous collection of personal check styles - over 2500 to be exact. One of the best things about this company is that they offer designs by original licensed artists. Choices range from bright, bold designs to pastoral nature scenes and everything in between. In addition, there are themes you can't find on some other check printing sites, such as Autism Awareness and Steampunk.
For your peace of mind, their security features meet CPSA standards and they have an A+ BBB rating. In my investigation I found it difficult to locate many complaints about Check Advantage. This is good news for you if you're searching for the best place to buy cheap personal checks.
Checks in the Mail Review
- Over 200 designs to choose from
- Strong security features
- A+ BBB rating
- CPSA compliant
- Helpful customer support via phone, email, or live chat
- No money-back guarantee
Checks In The Mail is owned by Harland Clarke, a major supplier of banking institutions since 1988. So even though they offer cheap checks in popular designs, you can have confidence in the quality and security level you're receiving. The prices are competitive with the rest of the industry, and the customer service agents are knowledgeable and friendly. Customization options allow you to add special features to your checks, like a monogram or symbol. ChecksInTheMail.com also offers the most popular accessories such as address labels and checkbook covers.
Although the industry standard tends to be a money-back guarantee, this company doesn't offer one. Still, their security measures, reliable customer service, and solid reputation put Checks In The Mail on my list of the top places to buy cheap checks.
Walmart Checks Review
- Attractive pricing
- CPSA compliant
- Optional fraud protection
- Simple reordering process
- Good customer service
- Customizing isn’t done until the end
- No live chat customer service
WalmartChecks.com offers one advantage over virtually every other company, and that's their price point. In addition, their duplicate checks come in the same count as singles, which is unusual in the cheap checks industry. You don't have to give up the fraud protection option with WalmartChecks either - for $5 per order they offer the CheckSafe service.
The website is user-friendly and uncluttered. One problem I found, however, is that the customization process is held off until you're almost done ordering your checks. Still, WalmartChecks.com is a very affordable option with a good selection of the most popular check designs.
Costco Checks Review
- Extremely low prices
- More checks per box than standard
- High-level security features
- Popular licensed designs
- Customization options
- Must be a Costco member to order
- Smaller selection than other sites
- Minimum purchase of two boxes
Costo Checks are printed by Harland Clarke, a trusted supplier of bank checks. This means you get superior security features with your cheap personal checks. Even though you're required to purchase at least two boxes, their boxes come with more checks than the typical amount. You get 246 singles or 174 duplicates, as opposed to the average 150 singles or 125 duplicates. The pricing is outrageously competitive when you take this into account, plus Executive members save 20% off the Gold/Business member price.
You won't find thousands of designs, and you cannot purchase single boxes, and you must be a Costco member. However the price point, the attractive styles, and the availability of regular, high security, and desk versions make Costco one of the best places to order cheap checks online.
How to Order Cheap Checks
Deciding on a good company from whom to order cheap personal checks is just the first step. Next, you'll need to know how to order checks once you get to their website. While each company does things in a slightly different way, there are steps to the process that are fairly universal.
- Choose your check design. This is usually done after selecting "Personal Checks" from a dropdown or other type of menu. Some sites organize by category (i.e. Animals, Hobbies, etc.), and virtually all have a search box so that you can easily find exactly what you want. Once you've clicked on your choice, select the quantity and type (such as singles or duplicates).
- Personalize your order. This step involves entering your personal and bank information, as well as adding any customization options like a specific font or a message. Some check ordering websites separate the process of adding your vital information and creating a customized look. If you're using your own image as a background on your checks, you will be prompted to upload a file. Be sure to follow the file requirements.
- Choose a delivery option. If you're using a cheap check free shipping promo code you've found online, you will be prompted to enter it at some time during the delivery or payment option process. Some companies even post promo codes right on their homepage, so watch for those.
- Review the order. Carefully examine all information on the ordering page and make sure everything is the way you want it. Enter your payment information when prompted and click submit.
Most sites offer optional fraud protection. It is the industry standard to keep this button selected to "yes", so if you do not want this feature (which costs extra), be sure you find that option and unselect it.
Additional Things to Know When Ordering Cheap Checks Online
It can seem like a lot of information to take in just for the task of ordering checks online, but the good thing is that once you do it, reordering is typically simple. My analysis of ways to buy checks online turned up a couple more important details that will make your experience go more smoothly.
More about Check Printing
Make sure your personal information - name, address, phone number - is exactly accurate before completing the process. Check printing companies move very quickly, typically producing your items within a few days. If your information is entered incorrectly, not only will you have to reorder - losing time - but some companies will not replace your cheap checks for free unless the error was theirs.
Another peculiar fact you need to know about check printing is that some states, such as Illinois, have laws requiring that the date the account was opened be printed on the check. In addition, some banks require this as well in order to accept the item as legal tender.
If the account opening date was printed to the right of your name on your original checks, it's best to include it when you order personal checks online. If you're not sure whether it was printed on the originals, contact your banking institution to find out. Not all check printing companies offer the option of including the account opening date, so be sure to choose a company that does this if necessary.
Read Reviews Before You Order Checks Online
Before you jump in feet first and buy checks from the website with that one design you'd really love to have, make sure you investigate the company. If there are problems with a business, it doesn't take long to turn up a lot of unhappy customers. Heed red flags and head to another check ordering website.
On the other hand, don't panic if you see a few complaints. For example, the Better Business Bureau website allows consumers to post reviews. If there is a very small number of reviewers and a couple of them have decided to take issue with minor problems, it can make the "negatives" appear way larger than the "positives".
While analyzing the best places to buy checks online, I found that this happens more often than you'd expect. So be thorough and verify that a serious concern is actually serious. Otherwise, you might pass up a great deal and the opportunity to support a quality check ordering business.
Read the Fine Print when Ordering Checks by Mail
Shopping for the cheapest checks can be a task in itself, and doing it online adds a layer of complexity to some extent. There are a lot of things you need to know before you order checks by mail. These include:
- What security features are used
- Quantity of checks in a box (some have 150, some 100, etc.)
- Customization options available
- Whether duplicates are available
- The company's return policy
- Whether they offer a money-back guarantee
- How long it will take to receive your order
These are just a few of the things that make it worth reading through the website thoroughly before ordering checks by mail. Consider your individual preferences and needs and choose accordingly.
Customizing Cheap Personal Checks
As promised, we're now going to revisit personalization and customization. Even the cheapest checks online are available with some degree of flexibility. This may mean different color choices, special fonts, or being able to add a small black and white graphic that represents who you are.
Want to create your own personalized checks? These days you aren't limited by only the check designs offered by check printing companies. Most of them give you the option of creating your own personalized checks with the perfect background for your personality and life.
Order Personal Checks That Are Truly Personal
One of the most exciting developments since the days of ordering checks by mail out of a direct mail advert is the advent of the photo check. You can choose your favorite photographs and be able to enjoy them every time you write a check. Photo checks come in boxes of all the same picture, or you can choose the rotating option which alternates between four different photographs.
You can also choose to feature your own artwork or image on your custom check designs. The possibilities are virtually endless and give you the opportunity to express yourself in a unique and authentic way. Just be sure to adhere to the site's size and pixel requirements for the best results.
Whether you take advantage of the footwork I've already done for you in this review of the top websites to order cheap checks online or find your own source, there's really no reason no reason to pay bank prices anymore.
Once you've got those beautiful new checks in hand, why not polish up other areas of your financial life too with the best personal finance software? While you're focusing on the security of your financial tools, it's also a good idea to protect all of your assets with the best identity theft protection.