Top 25 things vanishing from America: #7 -- Personal checks


This series explores aspects of America that may soon be just a memory -- some to be missed, some gladly left behind. From the least impactful to the most, here are 25 bits of vanishing America.

I left the love affair I had with paper checks over a decade ago. Now, it's plastic -- but no, I don't mean credit cards. We're talking debit cards here, which have almost completely replaced paper checks in almost all consumer transactions I witness in checkout lines.

Except for those fancy cashier's checks we use to pay for larger purchases, the personal check is completely out of style these days. I'm estimating that in the last 10 times I've witnessed purchases at the grocery store or local restaurant, nine of them have involved a debit card (or, yikes, a credit card) or cash. No checks.

In many ways, the check has run its course: there are printing costs, theft, bad check fraud, illegible penmanship and the need to carry around a checkbook to just name a few. Isn't it easier just to swipe that debit card, punch in that PIN, and be on your way? And now sometimes you don't even need the PIN or to sign, for purchases under $20. Online bill payment doesn't just save time, it saves money, eliminating the need for a stamp.

Sure, all this is easier -- but I'm betting that many of us still use a check register or log to keep track of our checking account at any time. Most of us still have checking accounts, after all. I still have a checkbook that I carry around with my wallet, like the two are married or something. Perhaps it's just decades of habit more than a physical need, since I actually write maybe one check per month. But, getting rid of checks altogether just doesn't seem right to this old dog. Where are your checks?

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