Alternative to Checks

In today's business world, people pay using a variety of methods. People used to barter for goods, trading items they had made for new items made by someone else. Now we use cash, checks, credit cards, debit cards, and convenience checks. In this system of money, when cash is rarely still used, it can be confusing and difficult to keep track of your payment options. Here are some alternatives to personal checks you can use to pay bills or make purchases. While not every alternative will be available all the time, you should have plenty of choices that you are never left without a method of payment.

Money Orders

Money orders are an attractive alternative to checks to many companies and businesses. To buy a money order, you simply go to a grocery store or any number of retailers and speak with someone at the customer service desk. You will pay the store or retailer the amount you want the money order to be made out for, and usually a small fee on top. They will provide you with a money order that looks like a slip of paper the size of your other checks. This money order will have a tracking number on it for record keeping purposes. Money orders are used when companies do not want to risk bad checks or returned checks.

Charge Cards and Credit Cards

Charge Cards are an additional alternative to personal checks, and come in two forms. Charge cards can be store or company specific, or can be used at a broad range of retailers and companies. Store specific charge cards can only be used at the store you applied for the charge card with. They are for the store’s merchandise, and usually require a monthly payment. Store credit cards charge various interest rates. An interest rate is a percentage of the debt you owe that you pay in addition to the debt to cover any costs the company incurred in giving you credit. Your interest rate depends upon your credit score. Store specific charge cards can be a handy way to pay one monthly payment to a store you shop at often, and can also be beneficial in record keeping or for tax purposes.

Multiple issuers and many retailers

Charge Cards issued by companies like VISA, Discover, or American Express can be used at any retailer or service provider that is equipped to accept these forms of payment. Doctor’s offices, gas stations, grocery stories, and a variety of other service providers accept some form of charge card. These charge cards are not store specific. They also carry an interest rate that depends upon your credit score. You will be required to make a monthly payment that is determined by you and the credit company.

Differences between charge cards and credit cards

In general a charge card only offers a limited period of credit and the card account has to be paid off totally each month. A credit card, on the other hand, can offer londer term credit. The money owing can be paid over a longer time period. This feature of credit cards, and the highish interest rates they charge, has led many people into significant debt with their easy to use credit cards. A charge card will ensure that you do not get into a large debt by gradually increasing a credit limit. You can still spend a large amount on a charge card and not realize it till you get the monthly statement though. Ideally you should keep records so that you don't get a large unexpected amount on your card account. In some countries credit cards can offer superior consumer protection because of their consumer credit protection laws.

Convenience Checks

Convenience checks are checks issued by the company that gave you a charge or credit card. These checks are written like a personal check, but they are paid from your line of credit. You will pay an interest rate on convenience checks that is usually higher than the interest rate you pay on your credit card.

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