Checks? Really? Doesn’t everyone use credit cards and debit cards nowadays?
According to the Federal Reserve, checks are down but not out – there were still over 18 billion (that’s billion with a B) checks processed in the US in 2012, the most recent data available.
So when it was time to open a new checking account, I knew from my earlier investigation into the best way to buy personal checks that I should skip the $30 my credit union wanted for checks, and buy them online.
The only question was: where?
Last time around, I chose Walmart for my personal checks. Bankrate investigated check prices last year, without including all the extra fees, and found Sam’s Club, Costco, and Walmart are cheapest.
Now let’s dig a little deeper
For comparison purposes, I decided on 2 boxes of basic, non-duplicate checks, and calculated a per check cost including trackable shipping & handling to California, and any applicable discounts. Many sites offered free, non-trackable shipping, as well as fraud protection for an additional fee.
Longtime readers of Enwealthen know I prefer cashback rebates like Mr. Rebates for my online shopping rather than coupons, since you can save money without wasting time searching for a coupon. Unfortunately, most of these sites didn’t allow cashback rebates for check purchasing even if the site in general does, so you won’t find a lot of discounts here, just already low prices.
Sam’s Club Checks
Sam’s Club offers basic security checks for $8.70 (480 checks) with $9.40 shipping and $5.60 in handling. While Sam’s Club is a membership service like Costco, requiring an annual membership fee, their check purchasing site is operated by checking giant Harland Clarke. At no point was I asked for my Sam’s Club membership, so you can purchase your checks from Sam’s Club without being a member.
Sam’s Club is one of the sites that provides a 2% rebate on Mr. Rebates, but unfortunately it’s not applicable for check printing services.
Final tally: $23.70 or $0.049 / check
CostCo is a membership discount store, like Sam’s Club, requiring an annual membership fee.
Did you know you can buy Costco checks online even if you’re not a member?
Did you know you can buy Costco checks online even if you’re not a member? They just add an additional 5% service charge to your order for us non-members.
Ordering 2 boxes of basic security checks gave me 492 checks for $14.89 with $8.36 in shipping charges to sunny California.
Interestingly, while Harlan Clarke also operates the Costco Checks site, it’s more difficult to navigate than Sam’s Club. You have to browse through all the available check designs without any way to filter or sort them.
As for discounts, none were available on their website, via Mr. Rebates, or a quick web search.
Final tally: $23.25 or $0.047 / check
Walmart is the other big dog when it comes to online retail. Purchasing 2 boxes of personal checks from Walmart Checks netted me 300 checks for $12.92 with a $5.85 shipping fee and $3.25 in handling.
For an additional 3% off, you can buy Walmart Checks via Mr. Rebates, which would give you a quick cashback rebate on top of your savings.
Final tally: $22.02 or $0.073 / check ($0.071 after rebate)
VistaPrint was an incredibly frustrating purchase process – wading through promotional offers for stamps, accessories, websites, etc.
I’ve been a big fan of VistaPrint for years, mainly for their affordable custom business cards. So when I saw they also offered checks, I had to check it out (pun intended…)
Unfortunately, VistaPrint was an incredibly frustrating purchase process – wading through promotional offers for stamps, accessories, websites, etc. No free shipping. No fraud protection. No idea if the shipping was trackable or not. Worst of all, you have to create an account to check out. There’s no way to just order checks and go when it comes to Vistaprint checks. Frankly, I’m disappointed in you, VistaPrint.
End result, $21 buys you 300 VistaPrint checks with $8.99 for standard shipping.
On the discount front, VistaPrint does offer a 5% cashback rebate on Mr. Rebates.
Final tally: $29.99 or $0.099 / check ($0.094 after rebate)
Checks Unlimited Checks
Checks Unlimited certainly has a large marketing budget. Just about any web search for buying checks shows one of their ads. In fact, you might be seeing one of their ads right now if you’re reading this on Enwealthen. So let’s see how they stack up to the competition.
Two boxes of Admiral Checks gives you 250 checks for $33.98 and $8.99 for shipping.
Even with a rebate, Checks Unlimited was still the most expensive option.
Ouch. That said, there are a plethora of online coupons available, with significant discounts for large orders (e.g. 4 boxes). Personally, I find digging through coupons an exercise in frustration, so I was glad to see they offer a 12% cashback rebate via Mr. Rebates, although even with a rebate, Checks Unlimited was still the most expensive option.
Final tally: $42.97 or $0.172 / check ($0.151 with rebate)
Marketing must be expensive!
CostCo Checks by a nose
Here’s the big picture for buying personal checks online:
|Checks incl.||Check cost||Shipping||Handling||Total Cost||Cost / Check|
As you can see, it pays to do your research. When you buy Costco checks, you’re paying 73% less than what you’d pay with the most expensive option. Plus, if you are already a Costco member, you’ll save an additional 5%.
I know, a 73% return is nicer when it’s a $100K purchase rather than a $20 purchase, but savings is savings, especially when I’ve already done the research so you don’t have to.
So go buy your personal checks at CostCo, even if you’re not a member, and enjoy the savings, on me.
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