Almost half of Americans have not written a single check in the past year — here's what they're doing instead

In light of the fact that 46% of Americans have reported not writing a check in the last year, GOBankingRates takes a look at the alternative methods people are using to exchange money.

Maddie Duley
Posted 2/29/24

In light of the fact that 46% of Americans have reported not writing a check in the last year, GOBankingRates takes a look at the alternative methods people are using to exchange money.

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

Log in

Almost half of Americans have not written a single check in the past year — here's what they're doing instead

In light of the fact that 46% of Americans have reported not writing a check in the last year, GOBankingRates takes a look at the alternative methods people are using to exchange money.

Posted

close up of hand and pen writing a check

Canva

Although check writing was the primary means of monetary exchange in the 1980s, today the practice is hardly used. Compared to the instantaneous gratification of a quick Venmo or Zelle payment, checks are a much slower exchange of funds.

However, while this process is a slower form of payment, it is still commonly used today by landlords, contractors, and real estate agents. Additionally, for people without internet access, having a checkbook is a necessity. Though writing a check remains a trusty method of taking care of expenses, this old-school technique is currently overshadowed by newer and faster online payment options. 

According to a recent survey conducted by GOBankingRates, 46% of Americans have not written a check in the last year. In light of this data, let's take a closer look to find out what alternative methods Americans are using to exchange money.

46% of Americans didn't write a check in 2023

While writing checks may be less popular than it used to be, 54% of Americans still wrote a check in the past year. According to our survey, in the past year, 15% of Americans wrote a few checks a month, 17% wrote less than six checks, 17% wrote a check once a month and 4% wrote more than 12 checks.

While many Americans did not write checks last year, the practice was least popular for those under 54. Our survey results showed that 46% of those ages 18 to 24 did not write a check this past year, along with 51% of those ages 25 to 34, 51% of those ages 35 to 44, and 50% of those 45 to 54. While the practice might be dwindling, many Americans in the 55 and over age group still write a few checks a month — with 15% in the 55 to 64 age group and 22% in the 65+ age group reporting this.

Those ages 55 to 64 were the most likely to write a check every month, with 23% of this age group reporting that they do.

Why check writing is becoming rare

Today's digital landscape is affecting how everyone is handling their money as the exchange of finances is shifting to a more virtual sphere and the need for physical checks is dwindling.

"Besides the odd property tax bill or service person who only takes checks and credit cards; electronic payments can handle everything else," said Jay Zigmont, Ph.D., CFP and founder of Childfree Wealth. "It may not be about using apps or fancy tools, but just using basic credit cards and electronic funds transfers.

How Americans are exchanging money today

If you have never written a check before, the thought of writing down numbers on a slip of paper and trusting the money gets into the right hands can feel like a risk — especially with the instantaneous, more secure money transfer methods available today.

Often, payment apps such as Venmo and PayPal require biometric screening of your face or finger to authenticate money transfers. They also restrict users from re-entering their security details and feature buy-in options for extra risk protection. These added details to trusted payment apps are leading many users to opt into the digital sphere and away from paper money methods. 

Most popular payment apps in 2024

PayPal, Venmo, and Zelle continued to take the digital payment sphere by storm in 2023 and are the front-runners for payment apps in the new year. 

PayPal

With 428 million users, PayPal is the largest online payment processing site worldwide, according to DemandSage. With its intuitive design and high encryption standards, many users prefer this app for its security and convenience. 

Venmo

If you want to buy your friend their next coffee or send your aunt some gas money for driving you to the airport, you can't beat the convenience and simplicity of Venmo. Venmo users can transfer money directly to their bank account or debit card in 30 minutes or less, and the service is a fantastic option for sending money to peers and family members. Venmo requires a verified bank account to transfer money and users can add additional security by adding a PIN or two-step verification to their account.

Zelle

Similarly to Venmo, Zelle is a popular payment app for peer-to-peer payments that allows users to send and receive money among banks instantaneously. In addition to having a mobile app, Zelle is also offered within the apps of many major banks and credit unions across the U.S. Transfers in this app are free for users and offer free immediate payments.

Methodology 

GOBankingRates surveyed 1,063 Americans ages 18 and older from across the country between Nov. 27 and Nov. 29, 2023, asking 22 different questions: (1) What category best describes your current financial institution?; (2) Have you considered changing banks within the past year?; (3) If you have considered changing banks in the past year, were any of the following factors? (Select all that apply.); (4) Which feature, perk or other offering is most important to you when opening an account with a new institution?; (5) Are you currently satisfied with all of the banking products and services offered by your bank/credit union?; (6) Would you ever have different types of accounts across multiple banks (i.e. checking at Chase, but savings at TD Bank)?; (7) What is your most preferred method of banking?; (8) Which of the following is the biggest factor of you staying with your current bank?; (9) Which of the following bank accounts do you currently use/have open? (Select all that apply.); (10) How much is the minimum balance you keep in your checking account?; (11) How much do you currently have in your savings account?; (12) What amount of a sign-up bonus would make you consider switching banks?; (13) Have you considered using any app-only banking platforms (aka neobanks) in the past year (e.g. Current, Chime, Dave, etc.); (14) How important is it to you for your bank to be affiliated with a crypto exchange/platform?; (15) In the past year, how often have you written a physical check?; (16) When was the last time you visited your bank in person?; (17) Why would you choose to visit your bank in person? (Select all that apply.); (18) Have you had an overdraft on your checking account in the past year?; (19) How much do you trust your current bank to act in your best interest?; (20) How much do you trust your current bank to protect your private information?; (21) Do you trust regional banks more than national banks?; and (22) How much cash do you keep at home? GOBankingRates used PureSpectrum's survey platform to conduct the poll.

Gabrielle Olya contributed to the reporting for this article.

This story was produced by GOBankingRates and reviewed and distributed by Stacker Media.