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Opening a new checking account often comes with a practical perk: starter checks. These temporary checks are a bridge for new customers as they wait for personalized checks, with over 90% of banks offering them as a standard service.
Starter checks typically lack personal details but include essential routing information for transactions. New account holders can manually add their contact information, ensuring immediate account usability. This article aims to guide you through the essentials of starter checks, equipping you with the knowledge to manage your new account confidently.
Starter checks are considered by the bank to be negotiable instruments, no different than the customized printed checks customers order at a later date. But many recipients may be wary of accepting them as payment, especially if the check number is below a certain amount, typically 300. Because a checking account may be very new and the customer may not have started regular banking practices, there is a risk that the presented check could bounce due to non-sufficient funds. Some merchants have specific policies not to accept such checks from unfamiliar customers.
This reluctance to accept certain starter checks does not mean the new account holder is out of luck, however. Many people use them primarily for regular payments, such as for utility bills, rent, and loans. Companies that receive a significant number of checks on a regular basis are generally less concerned that checks of this type will be returned for insufficient funds.
Once the supply has been exhausted, the customer is free to order customized checks containing all of the essential routing and personal contact information. Some starter checks do not even have pre-printed check numbers, so the user must be especially diligent about writing and recording them in order. The new printed checks should have sequential check numbers, but there may be a gap between the number of the last starter check and the first printed check.
Starter checks may continue to have that "new car smell" for checking account holders, but it is usually best to pay only those bills that are due, and wait a few weeks for a new pack of printed checks to arrive before paying for other things by check.
FAQ on Starter Checks
What are starter checks?
Starter checks are temporary checks provided by banks when you open a new checking account. They typically lack personal information like your name and address and have no check number, which can make them less secure than personalized checks. Starter checks are meant to be a short-term solution until your personalized checks arrive, allowing you to begin writing checks immediately.
Are starter checks accepted everywhere?
Starter checks may not be accepted by all businesses due to their lack of personal information and check numbers, which can pose a security risk. Some merchants may refuse them as a form of payment, preferring more secure methods. It's always best to confirm with the merchant before attempting to use a starter check for payment.
How long does it take to get personalized checks after receiving starter checks?
After opening a new checking account and receiving starter checks, it typically takes about 1-2 weeks to receive your personalized checks. This timeframe can vary depending on the bank and the check printing company they use. It's advisable to order personalized checks as soon as possible to minimize the time you need to rely on starter checks.
Can I order more starter checks if I run out before my personalized checks arrive?
While it's possible to order more starter checks from your bank if you run out before your personalized checks arrive, banks may limit the number of starter checks they provide. It's better to use starter checks sparingly and consider alternative payment methods, such as online payments or debit cards, while waiting for your personalized checks.
Is there a fee associated with using starter checks?
Banks typically do not charge a fee specifically for using starter checks. However, there may be fees associated with ordering personalized checks, depending on the bank and the style of checks you choose. Some banks offer a first set of checks for free, while others may charge. It's important to inquire about any potential costs when opening your account or ordering checks.