It's easier than ever to make payments and send money without ever having to open your checkbook.
Image Source: Getty Images
Long gone are the days of pulling out your checkbook at the checkout line or wondering when a check you wrote will finally be cashed. Younger generations don't even know how to write a check anymore.
With so many convenient payment options and excellent online banks to choose from, paper checks are going the way of paper bank statements. Here's why you should ditch that checkbook and move on to something better.
1. Checking accounts come with free debit cards and no-fee ATMs
Most checking accounts include access to free debit cards, making it easy and convenient to make purchases wherever you are. They also eliminate the need to write yourself a check in exchange for cash. Online banks and credit unions now offer free ATMs, too. Some even come with unlimited ATM fee rebates if you're charged a fee at an out-of-network ATM. If you're still being charged these fees, consider switching banks.
2. Mobile apps make it easy to send and receive money
You no longer need to write checks to give people money. Mobile cash transfer apps make it easy to send and receive money instantly from your phone. Most money transfer apps don't charge any fees to send or receive money to friends and family with a debit card or bank account, which can be directly connected within the app. These apps are designed with security in mind, meaning your financial information and money transfers are safe.
3. Most services now allow online bill pay
Most services, like utilities, phone, internet, and TV, can now be paid directly online. Your payment posts almost immediately, so you don't have to wait around while your check is being delivered and processed. Instant payment options help you track your finances in real time and avoid overdrawing your bank account.
4. New websites let you pay your bills, and even your rent, online
If your landlord doesn't accept payment online or through a mobile payment service, or if your utility company doesn't have an online bill pay option, you can still make secure payments online through payment platforms like Plastiq, RadPad, and RentMoola. You don't even have to get your landlord on board, because these services mail them a check on your behalf.
You pay based on what's convenient and cost-effective for you, and they get paid based on their preference. It's a win-win. Just keep in mind that you may encounter transaction fees depending on whether the payment is connected to your bank account, your debit card, or a credit card.
5. You can give the gift of cash with a prepaid gift card
While it's easiest and cheapest to send cash gifts with mobile payment apps, prepaid gift cards from Visa, Mastercard, and American Express are also reliable options if you prefer to send a physical gift along with a card.
With a prepaid gift card, the recipient can make purchases from just about any store they want, just like a debit card. They can also add their own money to the card and continue making purchases with it.
As the gift card giver, you will usually pay a few dollars extra for activating the card itself when you load it with your desired amount. Some cards also charge transaction fees or monthly maintenance fees, so always read the fine print before you decide on a gift card. For this reason, bank transfers and mobile cash apps are a better way to give cash without incurring fees.
If you're sending a payment, you don't have to worry about when a check you sent will be cashed, so you always know how much money you have in your account. If you're receiving money, you'll have immediate access to your funds. Plus, banks are increasingly charging customers for paper checks, so going digital will save you money in fees.
And for folks who are wary of digital payment methods, know that these alternatives to traditional check writing don't just make exchanging money easier and quicker, they also make it safer.