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November 27, 2021

Who still pays by cheque, anyway?

What’s that old Jerry Seinfeld joke, about how cheques are like a note from your mother saying, “I don’t have any money, but if you contact these people … they’ll stick up for me”?

Yeah, that seems pretty fitting here.

As the holiday shopping season rapidly approaches (or churns on, depending how you look at it), it’s become increasingly apparent no one is paying by personal cheque at stores anymore.

Because, why would we? The convenience of cheques is not what it once was, and – as Seinfeld suggests – their triviality makes them a significant security threat to boot.

Cheque fraud is a costly problem for the retail industry, and so with the number of shoppers choosing to offer them declining, a good chunk of retailers appear ready to do away with the method of payment altogether.

According to the Dallas Morning News, consumers “(shouldn’t) be surprised” to find stores aren’t accepting cheques this holiday season. Major chains like Lululemon Athletica and Gap are a few of the growing list trying to do without the whole pay-by-cheque thing already.

In fact, there isn’t much reason to suggest retailers should continue to accept cheques, anyway.

A recent National Retail Federation survey shows only 4 per cent of shoppers say they’d use cheques to pay for gifts these holidays – and even that number may be a bit skewed.

Among youths, at least, the realization that plastic is king has become overwhelming. A “miniscule” 0.3 per cent of 18-to-24-year-olds still pay by cheque (compared to 1.4 per cent of 25-to-34-year-olds), says the Morning News, and it’s clear which means they prefer.

A landslide number of under-40 shoppers pay by debit or credit, and about 70.3 per cent of consumers as a whole choose plastic, the survey found.

So, who then keeps insisting to pay by cheque? Who has the fortitude to keep an impatient line waiting while they painstakingly write out a slip at the cash register?

You guessed it.

Of shoppers 65 and older, 9.8 per cent continue to pay by cheque. God help us all.

By Jason Buckland, MSN Money



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Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...

Jason BucklandJason Buckland

The modern-day MC Hammer of money, Jason can often be seen spending cash that isn’t his with the efficiency of a Wilt Chamberlain first date. After cutting his teeth as a reporter for the Toronto Sun, he joined the MSN Money team with...