/ Money

Why’s it so hard to get hold of a chequebook?

Chequebook and bank card

I remember a time not so long ago when my bank sent me a new chequebook on a semi-regular basis. Does your bank still send you chequebooks?

When the cheque was saved last year there was much rejoicing from both consumers and businesses. But new research from Which? Money has found that banks are making it more difficult for people to get hold of a chequebook.

When we called 18 banks and building societies, just two (Nationwide and the Co-operative Bank) said that they send out a chequebook automatically to their standard account customers.

All the others say you have to request one, apart from Coventry Building Society which doesn’t offer a chequebook. It says you can request a cheque over the phone or in branch whenever you need one.

I’m going to throw it out there; I personally don’t think this is such a bad thing.

Do you like cheques, mate?

I found the steady stream of chequebooks dropping on my doormat a little annoying, especially as I don’t tend to make much use of them. I thought it a waste of money, postage and packaging.

However, I am someone who prefers to do the majority of my banking online and I realise that my view is unlikely to be shared by all, especially those who told us on Which? convo that you write cheques on a regular basis, either for personal payments or for business.

While I might agree with the principle behind the banks’ move, I think they are going about it in the wrong way.

By simply putting a stop to chequebooks being sent out automatically to all customers seems short-sighted, especially when confidence in the banks is at an all-time low.

Writing off the cheque

Many people don’t want to have to make regular journeys to their local branch or pick up the phone just to order a chequebook, so why don’t the banks just ask us whether we want to keep receiving them automatically?

A cynic (me!) might suggest that the decision not to send chequebooks out is a way of causing cheque usage to decline at an even more rapid rate than it currently is. And by discouraging the practice it will help add weight to industry calls to write off cheques once and for all.

Do you think banks are right to stop sending out chequebooks automatically, or are you happy to just receive a chequebook at your request?


Banks should charge for chequebooks. It’s wrong that customers who don’t use costly paper-based payments are subsidising those who do. Cheques are archaic, costly to administer and no longer necessary given the number of less costly alternatives.

I have only 3 cheques left in my chequebook and the year space is prefixed with “19”. The next full chequebook is the same. That’s how long ago I stopped using cheques because better alternatives were introduced.


No, cheques are not archaic. I was one of the many who argued that they should be saved. Sometimes there are charges to use credit cards and even debit cards but I have never encountered charges for using cheques.

Dominic says:
22 May 2013

Some people seem to be suffering from an “I am the World” fallacy, if you don’t use cheques then fine but whether you like it or not there are many services I encounter where the only alternative would be sending cash or postal order (if they even exist now) through the post. When I have offered to pay using Paypal etc it is enlightening how many people do not have a computer and that is before you consider that all these kinds of methods are not free – even though it is popularly assumed that they are.
It is simply not good enough to say “don’t do business with them then” – a valuable and flexible free method of payment that does not need complex systems in place is always going to be required – whether the banks like it or not. This is why their attempt to get rid of cheques failed.

Audrey Polkinghorn says:
10 December 2016

I’m afraid you’re wrong as cheque payments to energy companies and other service industry do charge more for this payment method. The energy industry charges around £200 a year more. Surely its all our choices to pay the way we want. Many older people do not or can not use modern methods, IT etc. so give us a break and let us pay the way we want to. I’m 74 years old and refer to pay bills as I have always done.


I don’t use cheques much and had not realised that cheque books are not sent out automatically. I have just logged on to Natwest electronic banking and ordered one, which was very easy. It’s easy to order one by phone too.


I have banked with Nationwide BS for many years, and still visit B&B’s and use local traders who don’t accept cheques. I certainly wouldn’t carry enough cash to pay them.
Nationwide only sends new cheque books when the present one is almost finished – simples !!
My wife banks with one of the big 5 banks and they operate the same system.


Re my last comment.
It should hsve read b&b’s and local traders DONT Accept credit cards.
Sorry about that.


nfh mentions the existence of plenty of alternatives to cheques without actually spelling them out. I am very conscious that with on-line electronic systems being shown repeatedly to be fallible there is not much of a safety net.

I use cheques sparingly and my Bank does not seem to send them automatically. But cheques are useful for sending money for birthdays when asking for a persons Bank details may seem presumptuous and spoil the surprise element. I prefer to pay tradesmen by cheque as there is always the chance to stop a cheque if required.

There are many good reasons for people to have an alternative paymnet system rather than go electronic and effectively pay a levy to the card companies. A credit card payment will be 1.5 to 4.5% of a purchase price. Who do you think ends up paying that?

Get rid of cheques – if you are a banker with a card payment services arm you would be stupid not to push cards as it earns you money whereas cheques do not. Which? seems a bit blind to this.

BTW whats with “convo”? An ugly abbreviation. Cannot Which? think of something better for these threads on this bulletin board?


I must admit, I’m not a fan of cheques, Got a couple for my birthday 3 weeks ago, and I still haven’t been near a bank to pay the in yet. Certainly cash would have been much better. Having said that they’ll get cheques for Xmas now, giving me a few extra days interest on the money.


Thanks for reminding me that I have to bank some cheques. I just put them in the branch letterbox when I’m passing.

Cash is not much use if you are sending your gift by post. I’ve ordered a new cheque book ready for Christmas.

If I was creative I could spend hours choosing presents that recipients could probably exchange for something they might like. 🙂

David says:
19 October 2012

not sending chequebooks out automatically is a good thing as many people use them rarely, and they are an extra risk of fraud – it is scandalous they are sent out automatically without having to be signed for and we all pay for that. banks shouldnt send out new cards automatically either without requiring them to be activated. and cheques are a waste of trees.

and it’s a market, if there is a demand for accounts that always send out cheques automatically, somebody will create it or sell their account based on that feature

as for costs for alternatives that are transaction based – well cheques represent a past of all inclusive bank accounts, where some things were free no matter how much or how little they were used, and it’s unfair that a small number of people using cheques a lot should be subsidised by those who dont

so people should have to opt in to receive new chequebooks automatically, and this should only happen when a chequebook is reaching say the last 10 cheques

at the same time banks are doing this for profit, not for us

if Which is serious about getting value for us from banks, it should be campaigning that they [and building societies] should always or at least once a year automatically be offering us a change to the best saving rate/account, not allowing money to sit in old low rate accounts. getting them to publish information [on their bewilderingly complex array of products] is, like the energy suppliers, just not good enough as we all know how poor their service can be so folk are reluctant to risk enduring the risk of the pain that switching can involve

why not campaign for opt-out of [replacing with electronic] all the junk mail and all the annual statements and all the ‘revised terms and conditions’ paper waste that we get from banks, credit card co.s and others

par ailleurs says:
19 October 2012

I must admit I’m no fan of cheques and only use them if all else fails. Most reputable tradesmen who are working for you now accept an online bank transfer. I use this method myself with the small number of private pupils I still teach. The parents are much happier with the arrangement and I get my money quicker.
There will of course still be some people (mostly older?) who still don’t use the internet and we have to make allowances for them for some time yet. I must take issue with those who don’t use online systems of payment out of concerns for security though. My PC is pretty secure and the systems used by banks are very secure. The recent banking problems were temporary and while very inconvenient for those affected, posed no security threat. The postal service however is a disaster waiting to happen and it would be far more likely for a cheque to fall into the hands of fraudsters than my online transactions.
Let’s gradually and sensitively get to the point where the use of cheques is so small that they can be discontinued. They belong with pounds, shillings and pence and fees charged in guineas.


Please have a look at the earlier Conversations where many reasons were presented for keeping cheques. There are many situations where cash or cheque are the only practical options if you work for a charity. For example, what happens when someone wants to buy something at a village fete on a playing field?

I don’t want to use cheques and don’t do so if there is a sensible alternative but sometimes there is none – if you discount handling a lot of cash as being sensible.

I’ve just realised we are supposed to be discussing cheque books, but it was inevitable that the discussion would drift to the role of cheques. 🙂