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I don't write too many checks anymore.  Most of our bills are paid electronically.  We use our debit / credit card for most of our purchases (paid in full every month of course), and use cash sparingly.

The times I find that I write checks are for things like:

  • paying property taxes
  • paying for services around the house that don't take credit
  • charitable contributions (even most of those are going to credit these days)
  • paying family members back

It's been a long, long time since I've paid for anything in a store with a check.  So, imagine my disappointment when we were at Wal-Mart a couple of weeks ago, and I saw the person in front of me pull out her checkbook.

My thought: “Oh, great.”

Then I saw that she was just standing there while the cashier rang up her items.

My next thought: “Wonderful.  She can't even bother to fill out the Date, To, and Signature fields.  This is going to take forever.”

At the end of the transaction, after getting her total, I was surprised when she just handed the cashier the blank check.  The cashier scanned it into some sort of device, waited a few moments for approval, and then handed the check back to the woman, who walked away.

Apparently, this technology has been around for awhile, and works the same was as a debit card, where the reader pulls the information from the check, verifies the funds, and does an immediate electronic fund transfer.

Cool stuff.  I still think a debit / credit card is easier.  After all, not every store has this technology so chances are you'd still be writing out a fair amount of checks assuming this is how you pay for things.  Second, even for the stores that do, you'd end up with a bunch of blank checks sitting in your wallet or purse that you'd have to shred / discard / reconcile somehow.  Again, cool stuff, but it still seems a hassle.