Take the issue of personal checks. Many big banks charge $25 to $35 for creating and sending new checks for customers. Bank of America (Stock Quote: BOA), for example, charges $35 for a new box of checks.
But there’s no rule that says you have to buy your checks directly from your bank. In fact, major U.S. retailers like Wal-Mart (Stock Quote: WMT) and Costco (Stock Quote: COST) have their own bank check printing services where consumers can land perfectly legitimate personal checks for about a third of the price they pay for checks from their own banks.
At Wal-Mart, you can order 240 new checks or 175 duplicate checks for just $5.96, plus another $1.70 for standard shipping.
Costco’s Check Printing Service is equally compelling – you can order 400 new personal checks for just $9, and 300 duplicate checks for $10. Though you get free shipping, keep in mind that you’ll have to pay $50 for an individual “gold star” Costco membership.
In addition, the design and printing capabilities of both retailers seem to be of high caliber. Both Wal-Mart and Costco provide services that include customized checks with your own personal information, as well as design options for the perennial sailboat enthusiast or dog lover.
To order checks from Wal-Mart or Costco, or from a wide variety of online check printers, you’ll need three things:
If you do order checks online and away from your bank, make sure your check-printing provider encrypts your personal financial information. How can you make sure? Usually, the URL on the web site will read “https”. Plus, you’ll see an image of a padlock on the web page, as well. Click on the padlock and see who’s guarding your personal financial data. For Wal-Mart and Costco, it’s Verisign. For Checks Unlimited, probably the largest online check provider, it’s GlobalSign.
Finally, double, even triple-check the financial information you key in for your new checks. Check printing companies aren’t responsible for any mistakes you make. Then, make sure you get the checks sent directly to your home or workplace. For a few pennies more, ask that the delivery not be made unless it’s signed for. After all, why run the risk of having your checks stolen?
Cheap checks are widely available and the savings you’ll gain from buying them outside of your bank should make the exercise well worth your effort.
—For the best rates on loans, bank accounts and credit cards, enter your ZIP code at BankingMyWay.com.