With online bill payment and mobile wallets on the rise, consumers are relying less on paper checks. Consumers who do still write checks are likely shocked by the price when it’s time to reorder.

You can find the best deal when ordering checks by comparing what your bank will charge you with the price you’ll pay online at various third-party check printers. You may find these companies will charge considerably less than your bank for checks (and might offer cooler designs). When considering a third-party printer, however, it’s important to take some basic precautions.

Companies that sell personal checks

A quick survey of prices that non-banks charge for standard blue checks finds that you’ll likely pay between 3 and 20 cents for single checks. Likewise, you’ll pay between around 5 and 24 cents for duplicate checks. Duplicate checks are those that have a thin piece of paper behind them that acts as a carbon copy.

Single checks

Company Number of checks in box Cost, 2 boxes Cost per check
Sam’s Club 240 $14.60 $0.03
Checks.com 100 $11.90 $0.06
Promise Checks 125 $13.90 $0.06
Walmart 240 $15.92 $0.07
Vistaprint 150 $24.00 $0.08
Costco 100 $17.73 $0.09
Checks Unlimited 100 $29.98 $0.15
Checks in the Mail 100 $38.25 $0.19
Chase Bank (provided by Deluxe) 100 $50.00 $0.20

Duplicate checks

Company Number of checks in box Cost, 2 boxes Cost per check
Sam’s Club 165 $15.86 $0.05
Checks.com 100 $13.90 $0.07
Walmart 120 $18.42 $0.08
Costco 100 $18.14 $0.09
Promise Checks 100 $19.90 $0.10
Vistaprint 150 $30.00 $0.10
Checks Unlimited 100 $39.98 $0.20
Checks in the Mail 100 $44.65 $0.22
Chase Bank (provided by Deluxe) 100 $48.00 $0.24

Prices retrieved online Nov. 21, 2022

The cheapest provider we could find was Sam’s Club. The Walmart-owned buying club sells single checks for about 3 cents each, far less than the price you’ll pay ordering them through Chase Bank’s check-reordering vendor.

Of course, price isn’t everything; you don’t want to give your checking account information to a sketchy, fly-by-night operation. If you’ve never heard of the site you’re thinking of ordering from, check on them via a Better Business Bureau search before you give up any sensitive information.

The safe places to shop

If going outside your bank to get checks makes you nervous, keep in mind that banks typically don’t print checks. They send them to a third-party printer, such as Deluxe or Harland Clarke, so all you’re really doing is cutting out a middleman.

One easy way to tell whether you’re ordering checks from a reputable company whose products meet basic security standards is to look for a little padlock icon on the right side of their checks under the “amount” box. If it’s there, you know the check and the company itself have been vetted by the Check Payment Systems Association (CPSA).

Enhanced Check Security Features Padlock Icon

“The padlock icon is a way of letting people who are handling checks know that the checks that are in their possession have at least a minimum number of security features that would protect against alteration of a check and duplication of a check,” says Steven Antolick, CPSA executive director.

On the CPSA website, you can find a list of all the organization’s authorized printers.

Everything you need to place a check order

If you decide to take the plunge, everything you need to order new checks online can be found on one of your old checks (or a temporary check, if it’s a new account). This information may include:

  • Your checking account number
  • Your bank’s routing number, which you can also find on the bank’s website
  • The check number on your last check, so you know which number your new checks should start with
  • In some states, the date you opened the account

Infographic: Different parts of a check

You’ll also want to double-check your order before making it final. While printers typically verify your account details with the bank before printing, checks with the wrong account information on them aren’t very useful.

Security is the most important feature

If you’re going to spend more than the bare minimum on a check, it should be on check-safety features, says Magnus Carlsson, a product manager with the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.

“Checks are the payment method with the most fraud,” Carlsson says. “So anything you can do to have more security is a big thing.”

Security features such as additional hard-to-copy microprint, hologram foil, heat sensors and hard-to-duplicate watermarks can increase the cost of checks.

The cost of added check security is probably more manageable for consumers, who write checks occasionally, than it is for businesses that write thousands or even millions of checks per year. Compare your costs with the potential fallout from fraud, Carlsson says.

Checks can look cool, too

Another benefit of going outside your bank for checks is you might find a larger selection of colors and styles. In fact, you can find checks online with almost any image or theme you can imagine, from fine art to college sports teams to cats doing yoga.

If you can’t find a particular design, you can always make your own. Many check printers give customers the option of using their own designs or photographs as a background.

You may also find an opportunity to do a little good with your check order. Many charitable associations, such as the National Breast Cancer Foundation, raise money by putting their names and logos on checks. Expect to pay more for fancier checks incorporating special designs.

Bottom line

Ordering checks can be pricey, and you may save a good deal by going with an online printer instead of your bank. It’s important to research any third-party vendor before giving them your checking account information. Your best bet would be a reputable company that offers checks with important security features.

– Claes Bell, CFA contributed to a previous version of this article.