Checks Haven’t Checked Out. They’ve Evolved

Wendy Blaeser April 11th, 2018

When debit cards hit the streets in the ’90s, the mighty check saw its role in financial transactions diminish. Fewer and fewer retail outlets take checks these days, but they haven’t completely checked out, not by a long shot. They’ve just evolved and the latest data from the Federal Reserve might have some surprising results about the payment ecosystem.

Earlier this year, we asked Glen Sarvady of 154 Advisors to share his thoughts on why we are seeing a flattening of the check decline, changes to check writing habits, and what we should expect to see in the future. His webinar, “What’s Next for Checks” is available on demand in our resource center.

Business checks

Business checks continue to be highly relevant. Here are a few fast facts about the way businesses are using checks from a recent Phoenix Synergistics small business payments study:

  • Checks are the top primary bill payment method.
  • 85 percent of businesses report that they’re likely to continue to use checks in the future.
  • On average, businesses write 26 checks per month and have 28 deposits each month.
  • When checks are ordered at the account opening, they’re 40 percent more likely to be retained after 90 days. In fact, we’ve found it’s highly unlikely that a business will have a primary account without checks (this last point actually comes from a customer we’ve been working closely with).

The reasons businesses continue using checks range from simplicity in record keeping to ease of payment to float.

The trends about check use in small businesses might surprise you. According to the Federal Reserve, 2016 saw the smallest decline in volume in 12 years. The Federal Reserve broke this down by category (this data is from their 2012-2015 reporting):

  • Consumer-to-Business (C2B): 42% of total checks written. Down by 9.6% from the prior three-year report.
  • Business-to-Business (B2B): 32%. Down by 3.8%
  • Business-to-Consumer (B2C): 15%. Down by 15.2%
  • Consumer-to-Consumer (C2C): 10%. Down by 8.8%

Personal checks

We know most people aren’t writing checks too much these days. Some younger millennials don’t even have a checking account. But that doesn’t mean no one is using checks, in fact, I ran across a couple interesting stats recently. 87 percent of Millennials have deposited a check within the last three months. Surprisingly, 42% of millennials are still writing checks on a regular basis. Let those two stats sink in for bit…they might not write them as much but they certainly know what they are and are using them. Despite the narrative out there, there are good reasons to keep that checkbook on hand.

  • Rent payments. If you’re a renter and live in a large, modern apartment, you probably make your rent payments on a resident portal online. But smaller landlords want checks, cashier’s checks or money orders.
  • No fees. When you make payments automatically online, you’ll usually incur a fee. Ditto for cashier’s checks and money orders. That’s money down the drain, especially if you’re using cashier’s checks for rent payments every month.
  • Stop payments. If you need to cancel a transaction, it’s a simple matter to do so if you’ve written a check. You simply call your bank and ask them not to honor it. You’ll pay a fee, but it’s better than paying for the entire transaction.


You read that right. eChecks are the evolution of the paper check. They’re not electronic funds transfers, not online bill pay. They look just like a paper check with your routing number, account number, signature, amount — everything you’re used to on your paper checks. One difference: You email them. They’re safe, ultra-secure and fast.

How it works:

  • You log in and fill out the checks.
  • Hit “send” to send them to your recipient, who receives them from our secure system.
  • Your recipient prints the check and deposits it in their bank, just like a regular paper check.

The benefits of eChecks? You’re in control, for one thing. You can time your payments and know the instant they’re received, printed and cashed. You’ll save time not having to stuff paper checks into envelopes and save money on postage. eChecks are green — no trees are harmed by eChecks and you’ll save paper on envelopes, too. Record keeping is a breeze because all the info is right there in your account, it integrates with QuickBooks, and you can access your account and pay your checks from anywhere on your smartphone.

It’s the evolution of an age-old concept, and one more way for you to keep your financial life on track in the modern age. Visit us at Deluxe to find out more. We’ll even email you a check for $1 so you can see how easy it is.

This content is accurate at the time of publication and may not be updated.