The Basics of Duplicate Checks

Checks are just one way to pay with your checking account. You can also withdraw cash or pay electronically.
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When you order duplicate checks, you get a checkbook that keeps a copy of every check you write. This makes it easy to see who you paid, how much, and when without ordering a copy from your bank or logging in to your account online. If you like having the ability to look at your previous payments, you might like having duplicate checks.

How Duplicates Work

Each check in your checkbook is followed by a thin sheet of paper (with the same check number for reference). As you write a check, the pressure from your pen creates a carbon copy of everything you write. Then, you just tear out the check, leaving the duplicate sheet behind, so you always have a copy in your checkbook.

You’re left with a record of everything you wrote, including the payee, amount, date, and any memo. You can also see anything you’ve written elsewhere on the check; the entire sheet is copied. However, your signature is generally blocked (at least partially), which prevents anybody who steals your checkbook from duplicating your signature.

Where to Buy Them

To stock up, use a reputable online check printer or order checks from your bank. If you need a suggestion, Carousel Checks offers both personal and business checks with carbon copies.

Pros and Cons of Duplicates

  • Info at your fingertips: Some people love the idea of having these records. Looking back through your duplicates is a quick and easy way to see what a particular check was for or how much you used to pay for things in the past. You could get copies from your bank, but some prefer to have everything literally at their fingertips instead.
  • Online access: Online banking services might allow you to view an image of processed checks, but some banks only show recent checks. If you want to look into the past, you’ll have to request copies through customer service. Those requests can take time (several days or more), and you may have to pay extra to view an old check.
  • Cost: Duplicate checks cost slightly more. If you can get everything you need online, or you have other ways to store the information you need, there’s no need to pay the extra cost.
  • Security: Keeping duplicates around can be a security or privacy risk. They might have all of your bank account information printed on them, and they leave a detailed picture of your spending for anybody nosy enough to care. If you don’t want anybody to know where your money goes or how much you spend, you’ll need to keep your checkbook (including old checkbooks) somewhere safe.

    Alternative Ways to Track Spending

    If you like the idea of keeping records, but you don’t want to keep the paper, you’ve got other options. Paying bills with your bank’s online bill payment system should create an electronic record of every payment that includes the information you’d find on duplicate checks. Everything you need to know might be in text format, making it easy to search and sort. Again, you might not be able to get unlimited history online, so it’s best to download your transactions to a safe place for later use.

    You can also just snap a picture (or scan a copy) of every check you write. With powerful cameras on every mobile phone, it’s not hard to get a good image. Just be sure to store those images somewhere safe.

    Check registers are another option, whether you do your register on paper or electronically. Instead of a full-size copy of each check, you can just copy down the important details of each check. Plus you’ll be less likely to bounce checks if you balance your account.