Online check-writing software is a means to digitally create both virtual and physical checks using a computer.
Online check-writing software permits companies or private parties to generate check templates for use in printing mailable paper checks or sending digital checks via the internet. This type of software eliminates the need for a physical checkbook or other bank-supplied paper checks.
There are a wide variety of online check-writing software programs commercially available; each has advantages for specific applications and disadvantages for others.
Careful investigation into these software options can reveal the perfect personalized check-writing software to fit your particular needs.
What Does It Offer?
There are several inherent benefits to online check-writing software. First, all programs provide MICR (magnetic ink character recognition) type. When printed with special ink, this is how financial and commercial businesses validate checks. There are programs on that end that “read” the MICR specifically.
What You Will Need
Printing a physical check using check writing software is not as simple as printing a text document. While the software does provide a check design and the required MICR type, additional supplies are needed:
Check Stock Paper
Printing checks on plain paper is not recommended. Check Stock Paper is universally used for check printing. Some benefits include watermarks, microprinting, and security warnings, plus it is available in a multitude of colors and preprinted designs.
Technology to verify legal documents, including checks, was developed in the 1950s. The process involves using an ink that is sensitive to magnetic fields to authenticate the document.
Printed checks, in particular, require this special ink as it is used to “read” account numbers, routing numbers, and other pertinent check information.
Almost every home or business-grade printer can print checks; however, it is important to investigate whether that printer is compatible with magnetized ink.
Another aspect to consider is that inkjet printers can smear when exposed to moisture, so take appropriate precautions when printing. To avoid this issue, it may be preferable to use a laser printer.
Another option is to have a printing service preprint your checks with the MICR information. Then you can pop one into your existing printer without needing special ink to fill in the blanks (payee, date, memos, etc).
Money Management Programs
If you already subscribe to a money management program like QuickBooks or Quicken, you already have online check writing software. One benefit to utilizing this feature is that the checks you write are automatically deducted from your account.
Money management programs usually set up recurring online payments that do not require printing a check. If, however, a physical check is desired for a single payment or a blank check for material use, there is a separate function available.
Stand Alone Check Writing Software
When researching check writing software, be specific about your individual needs beforehand. For example, are you a single entity with family finances requiring a few checks, a small business, or a large corporation with payroll and outbound money flow?
Not only are some check-writing software programs better for certain customer bases, but some also work better with specific computer operating systems. For example, some software works better with Microsoft Windows, and others use Apple.
A primary concern in online check writing is security. Safekeeping your financial information is paramount.
When you select check writing software, keep in mind a few requirements:
- Password Protection – This may seem intuitive but is often overlooked. Password protection is a must if your computer is shared or available to anyone else.
- Support for MICR Lines – All check writing software should include MICR support. But if you require more than the basics, research what else the program can do with MICR.
- Encrypted Coding – Choose a program that prints an encrypted code instructing your bank to honor the check for the person that presents the check. This can prevent unnecessary delays and confusion at the bank over concerns of forgery.
Keep in mind, most check-writing software is installed on your computer and stays there until removed. Nonetheless, hacking is an unfortunate aspect of the digital world. While the online checking process is secure, the software itself is vulnerable to anything that gets through your firewall and or any online security programs.
Some alternative check-writing software vendors utilize the internet cloud. The choice to expose your financial history to the greater world wide web is a personal one based upon your own trust and faith in that level of visibility.
If you are an individual or a business that handles incoming money, look for a feature in the software that allows you to print deposit slips. You will save precious minutes that accumulate into hours by having the capability to produce completed deposit slips before going to the bank with a cash or check deposit.
Most checking software allows you to add design elements to the printed check. Adding business or personal touches to the printed check highlights the check giver. Be sure that the program you choose allows for individualization of the check format.
Many online check software users have multiple accounts. If you manage several accounts, this feature makes life much more manageable than reinstalling the program numerous times. If this is something you need or feel may be a necessity in the future, investigate whether this is the case for your chosen software.
There are often other useful features available.
For example, check the software for a visual checkbook register, account transfer logs, income and expense reports, and a balance calculator. Sure, you can use your cell phone calculator; however, having it on the screen as you work is a bonus.
The Bottom Line
So, what is online check-writing and printing software?
The use of online checks allows users to be more productive within a shorter time frame. The software itself is a means to expedite the time spent on finances and make your life easier.
Remember to shop around before making a final decision – most companies will offer a trial period to test the product; select software that you find easy to use. Otherwise, you may encounter difficulties that waste time or result in expensive errors.
If that’s the case, you might as well buy checks from the bank and write them by hand.
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