The world is moving at a breakneck pace, and though there's something to be said for being quick and efficient, there are times when the best way to get a job done is the tried-and-true way. One of these ways is writing out checks when you do your bills rather than paying online. Sure, there's a convenience to zipping out a payment online, but have you considered the cost when compared to the price of a stamp, envelope, and the check? The following three benefits might just have you chucking the web and picking up your pen!
Most of the places that want you to pay your bill online avoid mentioning whether or not that will cost you extra to do so. In fact, most of them tout the “green” benefits of going to a paperless billing style without mentioning that this saves the company money without generally passing this savings on to you, the consumer. Utilities are particularly bad about this, as many of them outsource their payment processing. In order for the outside company to earn a profit for their services, they charge a per-transaction fee which is passed on to the customer. In some cases, this fee can range from just a few cents to over ten dollars per transaction. Other places that use such a system include the federal and state governments, though the fees are typically much higher, and in fact may actually be billed as a percentage of your income tax bill. Writing out a check to any or all of these groups allows you to skip the “convenience fee” associated with paying online, and may spare you hundreds of dollars over the course of a year.
Simply put, writing a check means having to balance your checkbook. That also means you're already sitting at your desk or at the kitchen table, writing out the check, so you might as well note the payment and file the paperwork while you're at it. The problem with paying online is the thing that makes it most appealing- You can pay your bill anywhere, at any time. You may be at a computer at your local library, on your smart phone on a road trip, or even at your cousin's house having dinner. The point is that you're in a place where you may not be able to see your checking account, and may not know quite how much you have available to pay. You could easily overdraft your account, or in the best-case scenario, forget to note the payment in your check register and give yourself fits when you do sit down to balance your account.
Criminals have found an easier way than check fraud to steal your money. Identity theft has become the most prevalent form of fraud in the United States, and unfortunately, more often than not the problem exists because unwitting consumers hand over vital information without giving it so much as a second glance. Although it's true that the websites that accept online payments are continually updated to attempt to thwart information theft, hackers are literally working 24/7 on ways to get around such safeguards, and you might be surprised just how often they do get through. Today's checks incorporate numerous safety features, and even resist “washing,” a form of check fraud that has fallen the the wayside for easier, bigger scores for criminals.
While it may at first glance appear that writing a check to pay bills in an inconvenience, there are plenty of positives out there to make it worth your while. Think about it carefully next time you're asked to accept that “Convenience fee.”