Take the 2-minute tour ×
Personal Finance & Money Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for people who want to be financially literate. It's 100% free, no registration required.

I need to order checks for my LLC. I wrote maybe 5 paper checks last year (by hand, not printed). So it doesn't make sense for me to spend $30-40+ on "business checks" if I can spend $5-10 on "personal checks" instead. Is there any practical difference? (Size, layout, duplicates, stubs, etc are irrelevant.)

I think the answer is that they're the same, and I can order cheap personal checks, but I want to make sure I'm not missing anything.

share|improve this question
2  
Do you have a link to the Business checks that cost 30-40 dollars? I suspect it has more to do with the checks that you are ordering and the security features they include. –  user4127 Mar 15 '12 at 13:38
    
Yes, I would shop around at least. Your bank may provide free checks with your business account. Or, they may provide blank checks where you can write your own account number on, if you really only need 5 checks a year. –  Steven Mar 15 '12 at 14:23
    
@Chad: Just search for "business checks" and you'll see tons of them. On any given check-selling website, the business-targeted checks are 2x the price of the personal checks. –  bstpierre Mar 15 '12 at 15:05
    
@Steven: My bank did provide a handful of free starter checks; those are the five that I wrote last year. They don't give out checks for free (at least not at the level of business I do with them), and their "preferred vendor" is outrageously expensive. –  bstpierre Mar 15 '12 at 15:06
2  
@bstpierre - for this to be a good question on SE you need to be more specific. This question is really to broad to give you a good answer. There are places that sell business checks for less than $40. So pick a one (or a very few) you are considering so we can have some place to reference where your question is coming from. –  user4127 Mar 15 '12 at 15:30
add comment

4 Answers

up vote 5 down vote accepted

No functional difference. Only impression/convenience.

"Business checks" are checks in larger format (8" instead of the regular 5" checks), they can be from your personal account just as well. I didn't have any problem using the small "individual"-standard checks for my company (I actually did get them for free from Wells Fargo, but that was a gesture, not by policy).

share|improve this answer
    
Your answer is probably correct. However some business checks have security features not generally part of personal checks. Though as you said you could probably get most of the features with your personal account as well if you were willing to pay the fees and buy the checks. –  user4127 Mar 15 '12 at 18:31
1  
Most banks overcharge on business checks, despite the fact that it's equivalent in cost to personal checks. I recommend ordering your checks from Costco or, better yet, switching to ACH billing and payments. If you're willing to spend at most $50/mo, you can get ACH origination for under $0.15 per transaction, which is significantly cheaper than paper checks. –  Benjamin Chambers Jul 20 '12 at 5:20
add comment

Thirtyfive years ago, when buying checks through one's bank was the sole option, if you got a "business" account with a bank, you had to buy "business" checks. One difference between a "business" account and a personal account was that on the business account, the incorporated or unincorporated company (say Simply Wonderful Apps) had the option of changing from John Doe to Richard Roe as the Treasurer of Simply Wonderful Apps and the person signing the checks, whereas a personal account in John Doe's name could not be changed to allow Richard Roe signature authority over the account. For a self-employed person doing business as Simply Wonderful Apps, a personal checking account would do just as well, since the need to change the person responsible for signing checks might never arise. It was, of course, important to have a separate checking account for the business because it made book-keeping simpler and also separated business expenses deductible on Schedule C from personal expenses. But it was not necessary to have a business account or business checks to run a small business.

In addition to the various advantages described in other answers, one advantage that I found for larger checks is that various money management programs could do things like print an address below the name on (computer-printable) checks so that after folding, the check could be put into a window envelope and mailed directly. For the one check to a page format, the programs could print additional information on the blank area below the check (e.g. explanations about the check, company logo etc. So, it was convenient if one had to write several checks each month. But if outgoing checks are infrequent and extra security is not much of an issue, there is less reason to spend a lot extra on business style checks rather than the personal style checks.

share|improve this answer
1  
+1 for pointing out actual differences, including signatory, separation, and printing. –  johnny Apr 7 '12 at 1:32
add comment

The only difference that I can think of is that some business checks have two signature lines.

The look and feel of a business check used to be more important. So a big check with two signatures and a machine-imprinted amount was a way to screen out fraudulent transactions. Nowadays the check is scanned and shredded, so it's probably not a big deal for 90% of your transactions.

share|improve this answer
    
Other features I've seen in business checks are: larger size, carbon copy sheets under each check, tear-off receipts for each check, etc. But none of these are essential/required. –  Steven Mar 15 '12 at 16:56
    
There are now ones with lots of security features to protect from counterfeiting/altering. Including watermarks, holograms, security strips, rfid, and more. –  user4127 Mar 15 '12 at 19:56
add comment

I know of one practical difference between business checks (8" check) and personal checks (6" check) dealing with the paper check conversion rule to electronic debit.

The National ACH Association, created a rule that allows receivers of checks without an "Auxiliary On-Us" field, to convert your check into an electronic debit via the ACH network. By default, 6" checks (personal checks) do NOT have the AUX ON-US field, and are eligible to be converted to ACH debit.

If you do not want your paper checks converted to ACH debits, then start using business checks with the AUX ON-US field populated. You can use business checks for business or personal checking accounts.

More information can be found below:

http://www.deluxe.com/miscfiles/pdf/AuxOnUsField.pdf

http://www.achrulesonline.org/

share|improve this answer
add comment

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.