When you write checks, you have to refill your bank account as well as your checkbook. So what's the safest, fastest, and most affordable way to order new checks?
Your Options for Ordering Checks
Whether you need personal checks or checks for your business, you have the following three choices:
- Order a new set of checks online or from a catalog.
- Contact your bank and order check refills from them.
- Print your own checks.
Let’s look at each of the options and evaluate the pros and cons.
Order Checks From an Online Check Printer
Inexpensive selection: For the lowest prices and the best variety of design choices, try an online check printing service. Along with an endless selection of graphics and colors, you can often personalize your checks with a favorite sports theme or hobby. If you just want simple and plain looking checks, you can get those too—they’re inexpensive and they get the job done.
Photo checks: If you’re picky about how your checks look, you can upload photos to appear on the face of your checks. Use your own photos or images that you have the creative rights to use. For a check to function properly, all you really need is a piece of paper with account information on it—getting creative with the rest of the check is fine.
Is it safe to order online? For the most part, yes. One risk of online check printers is that you provide checking account information to somebody you don't know. Most printers are trustworthy and they keep your data secure, but you need to work only with legitimate check printers. Stick with the big names to reduce the chances of fraud. Carousel Checks, Checks Unlimited, and Deluxe are among the most popular and reputable printers. That said, anybody can get hacked, including big banks and major retailers.
Tips for ordering: It’s your responsibility to provide accurate bank information when you order checks. Verify the account information with your bank, and provide a voided check (with information that already works) if that’s an option.
Order Checks From Your Bank
You can also get checks from your bank. This might be the easiest option because you don't have to figure out where your account and routing numbers are (see the parts of a check for that information). It might also be slightly safer because your bank already has your account information. But banks don’t print your checks in-house—they send the order to a check printer anyway.
To get new checks from your bank or credit union, just call and let them know you need more. They may have a few design options available to you, and you’re done. Banks typically let you complete orders online if that’s more convenient.
Low hassle, higher cost: If you don’t want to spend more than five minutes thinking about your checks, ordering through your financial institution may be easiest. The tradeoff is that you'll probably pay a bit more for the convenience.
Print Your Own Checks
You don’t have to order checks when you run out—you can just print more yourself. That approach offers for control and speed, and you can have new checks today if you want. But you need to meet bank requirements when you print checks yourself. Mistakes can lead to delays and additional fees from banks that handle your checks.
If you print a high volume of checks for your business, it may be best to order blank checks (or even checks that have your account information pre-printed on them) as opposed to printing the entire check from scratch. Business checks often have plenty of space for a description of the payment or transaction.
Our page on how to print your own checks covers the details and lists some of the challenges you might run into. You need to invest a little bit of time and money, but you can save money and get as creative as you want with your check designs.
Use Fewer Checks
Imagine if you never had to order checks again.
Set up electronic payments with your creditors, service providers, and vendors, and you probably won’t run out of checks for a very long time. Use online bill pay to make your life even easier—it's free with most checking accounts. As an added bonus, you'll have an electronic record of every payment (including the payee name, in many cases) in your bank transaction list. As a result, you won’t need to manually track payments from your check register.
What about writing checks when you shop? You can spend the same money if you use a debit card, and you might even speed through the self-checkout line when you pay with plastic. For even more safety, use a credit card instead of a debit card (but pay the card off every month).
Other Types of Checks
Now you know how to order checks for everyday use, but what about special occasions?
Counter checks: You might need to write a check immediately after you open your account (or while you're waiting for an order of checks to come in). In those cases, ask your bank if it's possible to get a few counter checks printed. These checks are not always accepted by financial institutions, but they can help you in a pinch.
Cashier's checks: For large, important transactions, sellers often demand a "guaranteed" form of payment. Wire transfers and cashier's checks are often used for a down payment on a home or the purchase of a vehicle. Those checks can cost $10 or more, but they are essential in some cases. Cashier's checks are available online at some banks, or you can purchase them at a branch. Learn more about cashier's checks.