Are checks going extinct? Not quite. Some 14.5 billion checks worth $25.8 trillion were written in the U.S. in 2018. In fact, up to 97% of small businesses still accept paper checks and also use them for payments. That's to say if you own or manage a small business, then you just might need a Hatch Business checking account.
How does Hatch Business checking differ from your personal checking account? For that matter, how do personal checks differ from business checks? Read on to find out everything there is to know about the various checks that are available for small businesses.
What Are Business Checks?
Simply put, business checks are checks that are associated with business checking accounts. You get a business checking account - like the Hatch Business checking account - when you open a checking account that's strictly for your business. It's, therefore, not yours as an individual. Thus, it allows you to write business checks against your company's assets, not your personal possessions.
When do you need to use business checks?
The IRS recommends that all small businesses maintain separate checking accounts from their owners' personal accounts. If your business has its own checking account, then you can use that account to issue business checks. Such checks may cover expenses like payroll, insurance, utility, stock purchase and so on.
As a small business owner, it makes a lot more sense for you to have a dedicated business checking account. That not only simplifies the business's accounting process, but it also establishes your organization as a separate legal entity. As such, the business's creditors cannot come for your personal property in case the business fails to meet its financial obligations.
Plus, your business stands to enjoy tax deductions from maintaining its own checking account. And if you open a Hatch Business checking account, then you also get up to 5% cash back rewards and discounts. There are no non-sufficient funds (NSF) fees, no monthly minimums, and no extra fees apart from a $10 charge for account maintenance.
You don't even pay card replacement charges. It really is tailored for small businesses and the best part is that you can use business checks to make payments straight from your Hatch Business checking account.
Can you use Hatch as a personal account with personal checks?
No Hatch is strictly for businesses; specifically small businesses that are either starting out or growing.
What Is Considered a Personal Check?
A personal check is a check that's meant for your own personal use. It's basically a slip of paper that instructs your bank to transfer money from your personal checking account to a payee's account. Needless to say, if you're the payee, then a personal check transfers money from someone else's account to yours.
When do you need to use personal checks?
Personal checks usually come in handy when the payee requests that you pay by check. Some small businesses neither accept credit nor debit cards. Some won't allow you to pay cash if the amount exceeds a certain value. Such cases bring personal checks into the picture.
Similarities Between Personal Checks and Business Checks
Personal checks and business checks are more different than they are similar. However, they do share a few things in common. For starters, you can cash or deposit a check regardless of whether it's business or personal. The process varies; therefore, read on to find out how to use both types of checks.
Meanwhile, another similarity between personal and business checks is that they contain the same basic information. Alongside a bank routing number, a check has a date, payee, amount payable and signature line.
Differences Between Personal Checks and Business Checks
As already mentioned, business checks and personal checks are quite different. They differ in size, design, print, cost, security features and how they are used. Below is a detailed breakdown of the same.
Business checks are generally larger than personal checks. While the latter measure 5 to 6 x 2 inches, business checks measure 8 x 3 to 5 inches.
Their large size makes business checks easier to print just in case you want to print yours inhouse. On the other hand, personal checks are smaller because they're meant to fit in wallets and hand pouches.
Design and Branding
In terms of appearance, business checks are typically meant to look professional. That's because they are part of your business's branding. As such, they often carry your company's name, address, logo and other formal information.
Personal checks are less professional and more artsy. They're usually covered with vibrant images of animals, sports, graffiti, landscape and so on. It all depends on what you want on your cheque. For that reason, personal checks portray individuality more than professionalism.
The payee's information in a personal check is almost always handwritten. That's not the case with business checks. On the contrary, they are almost always filled out in the computer and printed out so that they look more professional.
The only part that's always handwritten in a business check is the signature of the payor. If you're the business owner, then your handwritten signature must be on the check to validate it.
It's also worth noting that oftentimes, when filling a personal check, you can leave out details like the name of the payee, amount, account details and date. The payee fills those when they're ready to deposit or cash the check.
How much do business checks cost? That depends on the issuer of the check. Banks are typically the most expensive and will charge as much as 30 cents per check but you do have cheaper ways of getting business checks. For example, retailers like Costco, Walmart and Sam's Club offer business checks at much cheaper rates compared to banks. Better yet, the Hatch Business checking account allows you to send 5 free business checks per month.
The downside is that Hatch doesn't have personal checking accounts. You, therefore, can't get personal checks from Hatch but you can get them from big retailers like Costco and Walmart at an even cheaper price than business checks.
That's not to say that you shouldn't or can't get personal checks from your bank. Just be sure to ask about their pricing criteria. For example, Discover gives its customers personal checks for free while Bank of America has free personal checks for those with premium checking accounts.
Are business checks safe? Very! Alongside the standard protection that comes with all checks, business checks have additional security features. They include:
- Custom-designed signature lines
- Bleed-thru numbering
- Authentic and artificial watermarks
- Intricate pantographs and borders
- Step-and-repeat pantographs
- Warning bands
- Thermochromic ink
Just in case you're wondering, the standard protection in most checks - including personal checks - includes a security screen, warning box, padlock icon, chemical sensitive paper, fluorescent fibers, erasure protection, and a microprint signature line.
How To Use Business And Personal Checks
The process of issuing a check is simple regardless of if it's a business or personal check. You simply fill out the check and then the payee will either deposit or cash it.
If you're a sole proprietor, then your sole signature will be enough to validate the check. On the other hand, if you have partners, then your bank may ask that all the partners (or managing partners) sign the check to validate it.
What if your business is the one receiving a check? Well, that changes a few things. First of all, as a business you can accept both personal and business checks. And you can either cash or deposit them.
Cashing or depositing a personal check is pretty straightforward. Simply take it to your bank and either cash or deposit it in the business checking account. If your business doesn't have a checking account, you can still cash the check with the bank that issued it.
Alternatively, you can go to a retail store that offers cashing services. Walmart and Kroger are just some of the big names that cash checks, but a good number of corner stores do too.
Depositing a business check that you've received is just as simple as depositing or cashing a personal check. In fact, you don't even need to deposit a business check yourself (as the business owner). Anyone can do it on your behalf; they don't even need to be signatories to the business's checking account.
The tricky part comes when you need to cash a business check that has been made out to your business. For one, most traditional banks don't allow you to cash them even if you're the business owner but you may be able to cash the check at the bank where your business has a checking account.
The number of people who are allowed to cash a business check is also limited. For example, if you're a sole proprietor, then only you can cash a business check. You may want to add a DBA (doing business as) designation to your business's checking account so that you can cash checks that are made out to you personally as well as your business. If, for instance, your name is Andy and your business is called Reliable Electric, then the business checking account will be "Reliable Electric, DBA Andy". In which case you can cash checks addressed to you as well as those addressed to your business.
If the business is a corporation, limited liability company or partnership, then anyone who is a signatory in the business's checking account can cash a check. Depending on your bank's requirements, you may also need to sign at the back of the check to validate it.
Should You Use Personal Checks for Business Transactions?
At this point you're probably wondering, "can I use personal checks for a business account?" After all, personal checks are less expensive and conveniently smaller.
Well, there's no law that prohibits you from using personal checks for your business account. If you take that route, you will avoid the expense of purchasing business checks.
However, using personal checks for business lowers your business and personal credibility. Besides, business checks have additional security features that will offer your business extra safety as far as checking transactions and you can merge your checking system with your accounting software like QuickBooks for easier accounting.
Just as important, using a business checking account (and thus business checks) makes your business eligible for deductions. To top it off, you as the owner enjoy limited liability. That means business creditors can't sell your personal property to recover money owed.
Therefore, while it's possible to use personal checks for a business account, the better practice is having a dedicated checking account for your business. That will make it a lot easier to separate business from personal transactions. Don't have a business account? Or perhaps you would like to try an alternative to your current business account? Check out the new Hatch Business checking account for small businesses. It's tailored for the unique needs of a small business that's starting out and/or growing.
Subscribe to our newsletter
Get regular content and resources for growing your small business!
Hatch is not a bank. Banking services are provided by LendingClub Bank, National Association, Member FDIC. The Hatch Mastercard Debit Card is issued by LendingClub Bank, National Association, Member FDIC.