Your bank is the worst place to buy checks. Banks are way too expensive. Here are the best places to order checks without getting ripped off.
If you’ve signed up for a checking account at a brick and mortar bank, then you likely know the routine. First show proper ID and sign the necessary paperwork. Then the bank CSR will ask you how many checks you’d like to purchase. “So Mr. Pruser, are you thinking six books today, or eight? If you buy eight, we’ll toss in a terrifically generic checkbook cover!”
You may not realize it at the time but the convenience of buying checks from your bank can be quite expensive. In fact, the cost of checks through your bank can be twice or three times as expensive then if you purchased them elsewhere. So where can you buy them? And is it safe to purchase checks outside of your bank?
Best Places to Buy Checks Online
Even though you may not write a lot of checks, let’s assume you decide that you need 500 personal checks (w/ duplicate copies). A small enough number where you don’t want to spend more than $50 but large enough where you won’t have to worry about this purchase for a long time. Here’s a snapshot of what that would cost you, through four high quality retailers.
Sam’s Club sells their standard personal checks in books of 180. It will take you three books in order to fill an order of 500, and the cost for each standard book is just $5.98. Multiply that out by three books, and you end up with a total cost of $17.94. Sam’s Club offers free standard shipping, so no added fees on top of your total. The small catch however, is that you must be a Sam’s Club member to take advantage of the pricing.
If you’re into more security, you can upgrade your checks to include a service called FraudArmor. Think of it like an added layer of identity theft protection. Should someone fraudulently sign your name to a check or commit fraud in some other way using your checks, they’ll step in and help. Depending on the book of checks you select, there is either no charge, or a charge of up to $2.70 per pack. The service lasts one full year.
Walmart sells checks in packs of 150, so you’ll need four packs to reach the 500 number (with many left over). Four packs of their standard blue security checks will cost you $29.84. Walmart includes free standard shipping but you can rush the order for an additional $15.00
Like many other check printing outlets, Walmart will allow you to customize your checks, or select from a variety of designs and fonts. CheckSafe is the fraud service you can include in your check purchase. The cost is $1.50 per 150 checks you order. If your checks are used in a fraudulent manner (within the first 12 months), CheckSafe will provide you replacements at no costs and work with you to tackle the situation. You can visit their site CheckSafeService.com to view the specifics of their protection.
Sticking with the blue security check theme, Costco sells their checks in boxes of 246 so buying two boxes of checks will run you a total of just $14.57. If you’re a Costco Executive Member, the price is an even cheaper $11.66. All checks are printed through Harland Clarke check printing; one of the largest payment solution companies in the United States.
Costco also provides a wide variety of other payment related stationary like address labels, tax forms, ink stamps etc. The only thing that would keep Costco from being the obvious go-to stop for the cheapest checks is that you must be a Costco member. Depending on your membership, that means either $50 or $100 a year. If you shop Costco often then you’ll earn the membership fee back quickly. If you’re joining Costco simply to take advantage of their cheaper checks, look somewhere else.
I’ve selected some very tasteful “Wonders of the Sea” checks, with what looks like clown fish on them. Four boxes of checks (125 per box) totals $19.80. Checks.com is kind enough to also offer free standard shipping.
In addition to buying checks, you can also find return labels, deposit slips, and routine stationery items. The free standard shipping applies to all purchases and if you need items rushed, that can be done for a $5.95 fee. Like others on this list, Checks.com offers identity theft restoration services should something happen. Their service is called EZShield and it comes in the form of a Check Fraud Protection Program ($2.45 extra per box) and Identity Restoration (one time $6 fee).
Vistaprint does things a little differently. You can purchase checks in groups of 25 but when you look at their prices, you may be in a bit of sticker shock. Fear not, this company is well known for offering a bevy of promo codes to bring down the price. For example, promo code LABEL25 will cut the cost of your checks in half. Still however, a full 500 checks will cost you $44.85 before shipping.
The most expensive option on our list, I’ve included Vistaprint because they offer the widest variety of checks. You can customize them to just about any style or format you wish. In addition, you can upload pictures to your check and/or create your own design. If the look of a check is important to you
Is Ordering Checks Online Safe?
If you’re afraid to give your bank account or personal information to the companies above, you should know they’re no less safe than a bank. In fact, banks like Chase, Citi and Capital One do not print their own checks. They take your information and give it to the very same check printing companies a merchant like Walmart will.
In order to ensure your checks are printed properly, you’ll need to supply the following information:
- Your banks routing number
- Your account number (you’ll likely have to enter this information twice)
- A check number you’d like to start with
- Your full name and address. (Phone number is optional)
If a check printing company is asking you for your social security number, it’s likely a scam. If a check printing company is asking you for any personal documents, it is likely a scam. The only additional step you may need to provide is to confirm small deposits into your checking account. This is done to ensure you are the owner of the account, which prevents random people who have your account number from printing checks with your information.
Do your homework, and do your best to avoid buying checks at the bank.