Published January 07th, 2016
Although writing a check can feel like a vintage activity for most people, checks still represent billions of transactions  each year. They haven’ quite gone the way of the dinosaur yet, so accepting checks at your location is still relevant to your business in many ways. The most important reason being that checks are still preferred with some shoppers – especially over 50 – so making sure you keep checks as an option is important for your business to make those sales.
There’s no arguing that the use of checks has declined sharply for the past ten years  in favor of credit card processing
, however. This shift in consumer attitude is due to several factors. The convenience of simply swiping a card as opposed to filling out all of the fields in a check is hard to beat.
Checks also bring some risk of identity theft – the customer’s name, information, and bank account routing information is all right there – not to mention the inflated fees that come along with a bounced check. Despite these concerns, checks still offer a good alternative in certain situations.
Why People Still Use Paper Checks
For some people, checks make the most sense – especially when a person is faced with little options other than cash. Here are a few reasons people still like to keep their checkbook handy:
#1 Getting stuck with extra fees to process credit card payments.
Many utility companies still don’t take credit card payments – even in bigger cities. Additionally, even though check processing offers cheaper solutions, some organizations may accept credit cards but charge an additional “processing charge” to the customer.
This is the case with many school lunch programs which hire out a third party company to process payments online. These companies are notorious for passing these payments to the consumer. It makes much more sense to send your kid to school with a check rather than paying an extra 4 bucks in “convenience” fees to pay online. People will do anything to avoid what they see are unnecessary fees.
#2 Because of processing and startup costs, some businesses prefer paper checks
. Believe it or not, there are still many small businesses in the US – nearly half – who do not accept credit card payments  at all. These businesses prefer to deal in paper checks and cash to reduce fees and perhaps to avoid the technology that comes along with an upgrade to credit. Here are a few other businesses or organizations that usually don’t want your plastic:
#3 Minimum purchase requirements deter the use of credit cards.
- Charity Organizations
- Smaller Businesses (Think mom-and-pop storefronts)
- Insurance Agents
- Government Offices
Some business do offer credit card processing as an option along with check processing – but they enforce minimum purchase requirements.
Businesses have to pay some fees with every swipe, and for smaller purchases, sometimes it just doesn’t make sense for their bottom line. To deter smaller purchases being placed on a credit card, they impose minimum requirements. In this case, many customers just fill out a check to avoid the issue altogether.
#4 Checks offer more of a “paper trail”.
Traceability is important to some people – especially if a business only accept cash. Writing a check is like a built-in receipt because once it is cashed, the payer often will have a record of the cancelled check with the bank when it clears.
In this way, customers feel safer with this extra layer of accountability -- the payment is now on record with the bank as opposed to a hand-written or other type of receipt. Money orders and cash just don’t offer the same level of traceability – read protection – in a customer’s mind.
While the use of checks have certainly declined in the past 10-15 years since their peak in the mid-90s, there are many customers who actually still rely on checks vs cash or credit card payment options. As a business owner, making sure that you have all of the payment options open for your customers is a good business move. The bottom line is that the more options you offer, the better chance of a sale you’ll have.
So how do you find the best check processing company? Well, our team at Top Credit Card Processors asked the hard questions and put together a list of the top 30 Check Processing Companies
– go check it out! Depending on the type of business you have, you may need options that are customized to your needs in terms of payment processing solutions and other merchant services including:
- Point-of-Sale Equipment
- Remote Deposit Capture
- Checks by Phone
- Check Guarantee
- ACH Check Processing
- Remote Deposit Capture
- Credit Card Processing
- Retail Credit Card Processing
- Retail Processing
- High Risk Credit Card Processing
- Loyalty Programs
- Gift Programs
- Other Merchant Services
When you are calling around to the top companies, you should be able to get a clear idea of how each company can assist you with finding everything you need for your business. The list we have provided includes businesses who specialize in providing a wide variety of merchant services – including check processing services.
You will find everything you need to help you increase your cash flow and reduce risks involved in payment transactions.
Check Processing and Its Benefits
One type of check processing, ACH check processing
, can provide many benefits to your business and your
Remote deposit capture
- Helps you reduce return check fees
- Provides your customers additional options to pay as fast and easy as with credit card options
- Can increase sales by allowing you to accept checks and still help you reduce risk involved
- Potentially improve available funds with check deposit payments
is another way to process check payments and it will allow your business to process as well as deposit a variety of paper checks – all remotely. No need to drive to the bank. By using secure web-based software along with a check imager, your business can process payments quickly and easily.
Another way you can process checks is by electronic check conversion
. This payment options provides your customers with the option to pay by check, but it is as efficient and safe as electronic processing. Your customer’s check converts to a paperless transaction as it electronically moves funds from your customer’s account to your business account. When used along with check guarantee,
electronic check conversion provides a seamless check acceptance transaction while eliminating the threat of returned checks -- and it doesn’t require you to deal with paperwork or make a trip to the bank.
So how does check guarantee work? In a nutshell, it’s point-of-sale process that involves entering the customer’s information to authorize the check before the purchase. It provides you with another layer of protection in the check processing transaction.
How Our Team Comes Up with the Top Check Processors
When the people at Top Credit Card Processors rate check processing services, they spend the time needed to accurately analyze and evaluate the rates and services offered to merchants. These are the factors that you’ll typically see affect rates offered to merchants for check processing services:
- The total number of checks that are received each month
- The value of the checks received each month
- The average individual value of checks received by the merchant
Here are the questions we ask when we analyze each check processing company individually:
Are Rates Competitive?
Of course as a merchant, your goal will be to find a payment processor that will offer the most competitive rates without sacrificing service, convenience, or security and efficiency. You’ll want a merchant services company to provide you with the most competitive rates that are based on your requirements and your individual needs.
Is the Company Reliable?
For most business owners – one of the most important aspects of payment processing is reliability. You want a company who offers service when you need it most. That’s why our team measures reliability, and they do that by checking out the past performance of each company. We look at the amount of time it takes for the company to process check payments to ensure it is a reliable process.
If there are any red flags, such as noticing a pattern of lost payments or improper check handling – these factors are taken into account to weed out companies who may cause problems for merchants.
Is Check Processing Efficient?
One of the most crucial areas in check processing is the internal process needed to accept and process check payments in a safe and time-sensitive way. We look at the strategies used to create consistently efficient processing and ensure it is within the industry standard. As a business owner, you’ll want to get payment processed quickly while reducing human intervention needed in the process.
Are There Flexible Options?
When our team rates check processing companies, flexibility is also a main factor in determining rank. We look at a companies services, and if they provide a variety of packages, payment options, and other arrangements that makes business faster and easier for you.
Is Customer Service Strong?
To complete the analysis, we focus on the professionalism of the companies to ensure they resolve any issues quickly and can assist you when you need support. When payment processors make sure to offer high-quality customer service to merchants, business is more likely to flow more efficiently for everyone involved.
Now if you’re ready to find a check processing company that will help you locate and initiate new check processing solutions, check out our list of the top check processor companies
for January 2016.
||M. Phillips, The Atlantic, June 2014. [Online]. Available: http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2014/06/the-rise-and-fall-of-checks/372217/. [Accessed 5 Jan 2016].
||"Businesses Miss Out On Sales," Investor’s Business Daily, 23 5 2012. [Online].