The following is a guest post…
It’s no surprise that people just don’t use checks that often anymore. I believe I read somewhere that the use of checks-as-a-form-of-non-cash-payment is declining something like 5% percent every year now, though I couldn’t find the statistic that would back that up—what I do know is that a survey conducted in 2009 showed that the amount of holiday shoppers that said they would be using personalized checks to pay for gifts was around 4%. Imagine what the numbers would be like today! Despite this and whatever other inherent pitfalls that come with paying by check, many merchants and retailers are accepting checks as a form of payment, and look to continue doing so for the foreseeable future.
Some Businesses Don’t Accept Checks
Before we talk about why some businesses are still accepting checks, let’s talk about why others are not. It is true that plenty of businesses no longer accept check payments, Starbucks being one of the most notable examples because it is one of the most popular and one of the first. In an environment like a coffee shop, it’s easy to see why checks would be inconvenient—it’s 8:40 in the morning, there are ten people waiting in line, trying to get coffee as quickly as possible so that they can rush off and barely avoid being late to work, and that one customer at the front of the line pulls out a checkbook. Cue frustrated outbursts here. The restaurant industry is another industry that has begun refusing checks simply based on the fact that it is less reliable to accept them. While plastic is essentially verified on the spot, checks can bounce and cost the business money. Nevertheless, businesses that don’t accept checks are a lot fewer and far between than you might imagine.
But Most of Them Do—Especially Small Businesses
Small businesses happen to use checks all the time. One survey found that out of 500 small businesses queried, 89% of them accepted checks as payment. Cash was the second most widely accepted form, with 72% of businesses accepting cash, while the next closest accepted form of payment was credit cards, with 33% of businesses accepting those. While it should be noted that most of these small businesses ran mostly business-to-business transactions, it still posits overwhelming evidence that checks are still in use.
The Benefit of the Check
Small businesses are not the only types of businesses that are still accepting checks. Retailers all over agree that the risk of a bounced check is not nearly as costly as the amount-per-transaction that they have to fork over for every plastic card swipe, especially when paper checks, just like paper cash, is 100% revenue with no fees attached. The other reason that merchants are still accepting checks is that a significant enough demographic still uses them: the elderly. Instead of switching to an online system or the use of a card, stubborn folks are more like to switch retailers instead, and that’s not something merchants are prepared to risk.
Even though the numbers are showing a gradual decline in the use of personalized checks, rest assured that if you prefer the checkbook over the plastic, you will most likely still be accommodated anywhere you go.
Author Bio: Annie Harrington is a small business owner and freelance writer. She is also keenly interested in all aspects of design, including how to personalize checks.