Checks are still a preferred method of payment in many instances. Unlike credit cards, they don't come with substantial merchant fees that cost the receive as much as three percent of the transaction.
Even wire transactions directly between two bank accounts cost extra money.
Sending a check gives the recipient something tangible. When the recipient receives the slip of paper, they know you paid. It's less stressful than waiting for a number to pop up on a screen.
Mailing a check through USPS is safe. Millions of people receive checks through the mail every day. For many, it's the way we get paid. But how do you mail a check without worrying that it got lost? It's simple. Here's how to mail a check with confidence.
How to Mail a Check: 3 Options
Mailing a check is simple, and you don't need to call the CIA to send one covertly.
You have three options for sending checks in the mail. Each one levels up according to your confidence in the mail system and your budget, but all are perfectly safe and regularly used methods.
Send It Through USPS
You don't technically need to do anything different to send a check. Put it in an envelope, address it, add a stamp, and go.
People have sent checks through USPS for decades. There's no reason you can't. Although many companies and organizations now pay via direct debit, they do so out of convenience and cost saving.
So, if you already have a stamp and don't need confirmation of the letter's arrival, put it in the post.
USPS doesn't offer the sense of security the other two options (beyond its existence as a fundamental part of government). At the same time, sending a first-class letter also makes things easier for the recipient. Specialty products usually require your target to be home and available to sign the package.
Send It via USPS Certified Mail
Certified Mail is an enhanced version of USPS tracking. Why is it so good for checks?
First, it sends proof that you mailed the check through a receipt. You can then forward the receipt to the recipient, so they know that (1) you sent the letter and (2) when to expect it.
When you send a letter via Certified Mail, you also get details of the delivery. It not only requires a signature upon arrival, but it notifies you that delivery (or an attempt) occurred.
You can also buy added options like a Return Receipt if you have concerns about the safety fo the check itself. Return Receipt is a postcard signed by the recipient or an e-mail with an electronic copy of their signature. You'll see who signed it, when, and have proof in case any issues come up.
Best of all, sending a certified letter doesn't require a trip to the post office. You can print and attach the Certified Mail labels at home.
Send It Through FedEx or UPS
If you want to see where your letter is at all times, try FedEx or UPS. They offer up-to-the-hour tracking options that allow both of you to check in and see where the envelope is.
Why not opt for FedEx or UPS right away? Both services offer significantly more features, but those features come at a cost.
We recommend FedEx for a VIP letter sent once a year or when your check accompanies a confidential document.
However, for a regular check - even a high-value one - the cost of these services outweigh the benefits they offer. A wire transfer would be as secure and even more efficient.
Tips for Sending a Check
Even when you use special delivery tracking options, you might still want to take a few extra steps to protect the check itself.
First, never send a check that's payable to cash. In the unlikely event that the check falls into the wrong hands, it will be a worthless piece of paper. With modern checks and I.D. requirements, it's increasingly tricky to cash a check fraudulently.
Second, place the check inside a piece of paper and use a secure envelope to disguise the check. If the check isn't visible, it is less attractive to thieves.
Finally, drop the letter off somewhere safe rather than leaving it with your outgoing post. Handing it over to the post office or giving it to a uniformed USPS mail carrier is the most reliable way to ensure a letter goes straight from your hands into the mailbag.
All these rules apply whether you send your check via first-class mail or through a USPS or FedEx option.
Did You Lose a Check?
Losing a check is rare, but it does happen. Still, if you made sure the check isn't payable to cash, then you have time to act, so try not to stress.
Do you suspect a check got lost? Or for some inexplicable reason, someone other than the intended recipient signed for it? Call your bank ASAP. You can request a stop payment action on the check (for a small fee) to prevent the bank from releasing the funds (up to a point).
Your bank may also set up an alert to let you know if someone cashes the check you suspect got lost.
You Can Mail Paper Checks Safely
It only takes one horror story to scare you away from ever mailing a check again. But those stories are rare occurrences. After all, the mail was the way we all used to get paid.
If you want to know how to mail a check safely, understand that it doesn't take more than being discrete with first-class mail. Upgrade to Certified Mail when you feel the extra fee is prudent, or if you want a signature, and only go the FedEx or UPS route when you need additional levels of security.
Are you sending checks as part of your freelance career? Click here for more tips that every freelancer should know.