Small business owners have no shortage of choices when it comes to payment options. Electronic fund transfers (also known as wire transfers), Automated Clearing House (ACH) payments and credit cards all have their devoted followings. But one payment solution has persisted throughout the entire modern era, even as showier options have appeared and, in some cases, disappeared in the meantime: the business check.
The enduring popularity of business checks
Admittedly, checkwriting has become rarer in consumers’ personal transactions. But for business-to-business transactions, checks are one of the easiest, fastest and most secure ways for businesses to pay employees, vendors, suppliers and other parties. They’re also one of the most cost-effective options. Even as other payment options crop up, the business check’s popularity persists. It’s no wonder why: Virtually every business that serves other businesses accepts checks, and checks integrate seamlessly with accounting and bookkeeping software such as QuickBooks®.
Moreover, unlike some other prevalent payment options like wire transfers or ACH, checks don’t require the sender to securely keep payees’ sensitive data like account names and numbers.
An evolution for the electronic age
While the basic principles of checks have remained unchanged for decades (and far longer, if you look at the history of checkwriting), the mechanics of checkwriting have evolved a bit. With emailable checks such as Deluxe eChecks, it’s now possible to enjoy all the benefits of easy, secure check payments — without the need for paper, postage or waiting for the mail to be delivered.
In a way, emailable checks are similar to eBooks: Both are more convenient versions of age-old technology. Yet, as any eBook lover will attest, sometimes an e-reader just can’t compete with the heft of, and ability to flip through, a traditional paper book.
Emailable checks are much the same. While eChecks make payments more painless, sometimes a paper check is called for. As a business owner, how do you know when to use paper and when to use an eCheck?
When to use paper checks
Paper checks are still one of the easiest ways to make in-person payments. Unlike cash, paper checks create a paper trail and can usually be issued directly from QuickBooks or other accounting software. Here are five times paper checks are the best payment choice:
- Paying employee or contractor wages in person
- Issuing holiday tips and gratuities
- Making vendor payments at the time of delivery
- Issuing customer refunds
- Creating any payments that need to be hand-delivered
When to use eChecks
Unlike paper checks, Deluxe eChecks allow unprecedented precision over when a payment is issued. Because they’re delivered at the speed of email, eChecks users can wait until the last possible moment to issue payments. Deluxe eChecks also allow users to hold funds in their accounts longer, without building in time for mail or courier delivery. Here are five times when it makes sense to use eChecks instead of paper checks:
- Use eChecks for payments that are due today — or are already overdue.
- Use an eCheck when you need to make a rush payment.
- Send eChecks when you need to make a large check batch. Instead of printing, signing, stuffing, stamping and mailing paper checks, Deluxe eChecks let you send hundreds of payments in just a few clicks.
- Use eChecks when you want to include remittance data with the payments, so recipients know immediately what each payment applies to.
- Send eChecks for all check payments that don’t need to be hand-delivered in person.
By using a mix of paper checks and eChecks, you’ll be sure to have the right payment solution for every situation.
Editor’s note: QuickBooks and Quicken are registered trademarks of Intuit, Inc.