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Life

Target Says It Will No Longer Accept Personal Checks

A look at a Target store exterior with a shopping cart in the foregroundDeposit Photos

Retailer Target has joined a list of stores that are no longer accepting personal checks as forms of payment. It’s hard to be surprised.

Target is alerting its customers that as of July 15, it will no longer accept personal checks. It will continue accepting cash, credit and debit cards and its Target Circle Card (which used to be its RedCard). Customers can also pay using digital wallets, SNAP/EBT cards, and “buy now, pay later” services.

In making the decision, Target is joining companies like Aldi and Whole Foods Markets have have nixed paper checks.

Walmart still accepts checks. But the last time I paid by check at a Walmart store, they scanned the check through the register to read the account number, and handed me the check back. I don’t know why they gave me the check back; I would think they’d want to keep that in case there was a question.

Then again, the last time I wrote a check at Walmart — or any other store — was years ago.

I can’t remember the last time I actually saw someone at a store actually writing a check.

In fact, when I bought my home a few years back, I had to write a check for the escrow account. I will admit that it caused a mild panic. I knew my checkbook was tucked away safely somewhere. But exactly where that somewhere was remained a bit of a mystery!

It took going through several boxes to find it. I did find it, for the record, in the general area where I thought it was. But it still took a bit of time.

Is it time to retire checks altogether?

It’s clear people write fewer checks these days. The Associated Press cited numbers from the Federal Reserve. That data showed while Americans wrote almost 19 billion checks in 1990, that figure dropped roughly 3.4 billion checks in 2022.

Yes, that’s a sharp decline to be sure. But that’s still 3.4 billion checks. That’s still billions of checks being written.

My parents still write checks to pay many of their bills. I don’t. Instead, I rely on electronic transfers from my bank. I prefer that method because I can see exactly when the money goes from my bank to the account I’m paying.

It’s a funny thing: I once had a credit card that liked to claim a payment “didn’t arrive on time” so they could charge me a late fee and threaten to raise my interest rate. I got fed up with their antics.

So I pulled a nasty little surprise: I switched to electronic payments. Oddly enough, I never have had a late payment since the switch. They know I see when the money moves, so they know there’s no use in trying to claim they didn’t receive it.

To make matters worse, as ridiculously slow and inefficient as the postal service has become, nowadays, I might be more likely to believe a check didn’t arrive on time, no matter how far in advance you mail it.

In the past three years, I think I’ve written a total of two checks. I use a credit card in stores. (I rarely carry cash these days.)

But there are still people who prefer checks to credit or cash. Unfortunately, they’re going to end up like the people who’d prefer to read a printed newspaper rather than an online edition. Sooner or later, they’re preference will become more and more outmoded.

Do you still write checks these days? If a store you frequent stopped accepting them, would it be a problem for you?

the authorPatrick
Patrick is a Christian with more than 30 years experience in professional writing, producing and marketing. His professional background also includes social media, reporting for broadcast television and the web, directing, videography and photography. He enjoys getting to know people over coffee and spending time with his dog.

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