Cheap checks, cool
can save money by shunning your bank's check printer and finding
These days it's possible to find a bank that
charges a hefty $25 for a box of 150 duplicate checks. That's more
than 16 cents a check, not including delivery charges that often
amount to several bucks a box.
But as a rule, banks don't print checks; specialized
printers do the job.
You can cut out the banking middleman and deal
directly with the check printer of your choice. And not only can
you save money by choosing your own check printer; you can select
from a wider variety of styles and do business with a printer that
shares your political, environmental or ethical values.
Your bank can't punish you for choosing your
own check-printing service. As long as checks meet industry guidelines
for size, ink type, legibility and other criteria, banks can't reject
But because the routing and account numbers
at the bottom of a check are printed with specialized magnetic ink,
it generally isn't cost-effective to print checks from blank stock
at home on your computer.
The Deluxe treatment
According to the Federal Reserve System some 50 billion checks are
written annually. Many banks choose Deluxe,
the nations's biggest check printer, because they have a long-standing
business relationship with a Deluxe-related company that blacklists
people who have abused their checking accounts. More on that later.
Deluxe checks are expensive. A customer of,
Community Bank of South Carolina would pay $14.50 to reorder
a set of 200 single checks printed by Deluxe (or $18.75 for 150
duplicate checks) with a plain blue background. Fancier checks can
cost up to $7 more an order.
You can order checks from Deluxe for less money
by doing business with the company directly instead of through your
Unlimited, formerly called Current, is a unit of Deluxe, and
it charges $17.90 for 400 single checks and $23.90 for duplicates.
Those are for plain checks. Fancier checks cost more.
Some people wish to refrain from doing business
with Deluxe because a Deluxe spinoff operates ChexSystems, a database
of people who have abused their checking accounts. If you are listed
with ChexSystems, most banks won't let you open an account for five
years -- even if you're listed because you mistakenly closed an
account before the last check cleared.
Fortunately, there are plenty of options for
people who want to avoid Deluxe.
Plain or fancy schmancy
Some of the most inexpensive are printed by a company that specializes
in checks with Christian and pro-life themes. You don't have to
be an evangelical Christian to buy from Promise
Checks: Muslims, Hindus, Jews and Unitarians might want to buy
Promise's plain blue safety checks. They cost $5.95 for a box of
200 single checks and $8.95 for 150 duplicates. Promise's checks
are cheaper in bulk; for example, 600 safety checks cost $13.85.
Although Promise offers those plain checks,
it specializes in checks with religious themes, and the printer
offers lots of options for low prices. Designs with pro-life themes
and Bible quotes cost more per order than the blue safety checks;
a box of 200 pro-life singles costs $7.95.
Religious themes are offered by many check
printers, including Checks
In The Mail. The low-price check printer charges $7.99 for 200
singles ($10.99 for 150 duplicates) for a variety of checks, from
a plain blue safety design to the Thy Word line with inspirational
quotes from the Old and New Testaments.
The above two check printers are among the most
inexpensive. Pricier options abound for those who want to express
racial solidarity, concern for the environment, love for family
or a bizarre sense of humor.
Know me by my check
You might want to perform a cost-benefit analysis on personal expression,
to use a business catchphrase. How much are you willing to pay to
let people know that you're a vegetarian, or to convey to a harried
letter sorter at the electric company that you're proud of your
If you're willing to pay big bucks to tell cashiers
and payment-center employees something about yourself, by all means
shell out the moolah.
Want to say it loud that you're black and you're
proud? At least two check printers specialize in checks with African-American
Checks charge $14.95 for 200 singles and $16.95 for 150 duplicates.
AfrocenCheck charges $14.95 for 200 singles and $15.95 for 150 duplicates.
Fans of Star Trek, The Wizard of Oz
and Xena: Warrior Princess should check out Anthony
Grandio, based in Jacksonville, Fla. The Xena checks cost $21.95
for 200 singles or $23.95 for 150 duplicates. Checks printed with
pictures of scenic Florida cost $2 less.
Smelly, Shakespearean or
If you're considered a weirdo and you want people to know it, coolchecks.com
lives up to its name. Among the offerings is a line of "body smells"
checks (indescribable) and some "bug checks" that make it look like
ants, stag beetles, cockroaches or flies are crawling on the check.
Then there's the line of tasteful nudes from art masterworks. You
have to pay some dough to be this cool: checks cost $18 for 200
singles or $20 for 150 duplicates.
--Updated: July 26, 2002