Why Check Writing Software?
The top performers in our review are PrintBoss, the Gold Award winner; Checkeeper, the Silver Award winner; and Create-A-Check, the Bronze Award winner. Here's more on choosing software to meet your needs, along with detail on how we arrived at our ranking of these 10 applications.
When it comes to paying for goods and services, plastic may rule, but paper checks aren't dead – yet. According to the recently released Federal Reserve Payments Study, the latest in a series of studies the Fed is conducting to monitor trends in noncash payments, the number of checks issued totaled 17.3 billion with a value of $26.83 trillion.
Checks still comprise a core set of noncash payment methods (along with credit and debit cards and ACH transfers) consumers and businesses consistently use. For businesses, there are times when paying with a check is easier. For example, for a new hire, your company might need to issue a paper check temporarily while payment arrangements are being set up with your payroll software and the employee's bank. Plus, some businesses prefer to pay employees (and purchase goods and services) with a check.
If that's the case for your business, check writing software offers convenience and security, not to mention a savings of time and money. Checks printed using check writing software comply with federal regulations – they contain the MICR line (and ink) to reduce fraud. Further, check writing applications are stored local on a computer that only you and any authorized employees have access to.
Our Picks for the Best Check Writing Software
Top Ten Reviews has been evaluating check writing software for more than 10 years, accumulating over 300 hours of research. For this review, we initially considered more than 45 products. We pored over each application, reviewing the features and integrations of each program thoroughly before whittling the list down to the 10 best products.
As with any software or service, though, the right choice for you depends on the needs of your company. Whether you're on a tight budget or looking for an application that will integrate with your accounting software, below are our picks for the best check writing software based on the various needs your business might have.
Best Software When You're on a Limited Budget
It doesn't make sense to pay a lot of money just to be able to print checks. If you have a limited budget and need an affordable check printing solution, we recommend ezCheckPrinting. It prints checks on blank check stock, and you don't have to buy that stock from the manufacturer like you do with some of the other products on our lineup. You only pay for the software once, and then it's yours for life.
Recommended Software for Businesses on a Budget – ezCheckPrinting
Best Software for Accounting/Payroll Integration
The ability – not to mention the convenience and flexibility – of a check writing application to integrate with your accounting program or payroll software, if your business issues paychecks to employees, is important. All of the products on our list integrate with some software solutions, but MultiCHAX offers the most integrations out of the 10 applications we reviewed. This check writing software integrates with QuickBooks, Microsoft Dynamics GP, Peachtree, Quicken, Solomon and more.
Recommended Software for Accounting/Payroll Integration – MultiCHAX
Best Software for Enterprises
If you print a large number of checks, you need software that processes a high volume. Using SecureCheck 8, you can print from an unlimited number of accounts to any printer on your company's network.
Recommended Software for Enterprises – SecureCheck 8
What is Check 21?
Since 2004, Check 21 (the Check Clearing for the 21st Century Act), has allowed banks to process checks electronically, which dramatically speeds the process of processing checks.
One item that helps banks process checks electronically is the MICR line. MICR stands for Magnetic Ink Character Recognition. An MICR line is the row of numbers printed at the bottom of a check listing your bank's routing number and your account number.
In order for the MICR line to work properly, it has to be printed with the proper material (see below) and in the correct font. All of the check writing software included in our review provides the means for you to print a proper MICR line.
Additional Expenses You'll Incur
There are multiple costs involved when purchasing check writing software. In order to meet security requirements, you have to purchase additional equipment and materials, which can include the following:
- An MICR printer. You may have to purchase a special printer that prints MICR ink. In general, a MICR printer must be a laser printer, though some dot matrix printers will suffice. However, inkjet printers are not compatible.
- MICR ink. In addition to the printer, you'll need to purchase MICR ink so checks comply with federal law. You may have to purchase magnetic toner from a specialist company, as not all office supply stores stock it.
- MICR font. In order for banks to process checks easily, your checks will need to print the MICR line in the appropriate font. Some check writing software includes this font as part of your purchase; others require you to purchase this font separately. (You can find the font online for purchase and download.)
- Check stock. The money you spend on specialty paper or check stock varies depending on which check printing software you choose. Some companies require that you buy stock from them while with others, you have the freedom and flexibility to purchase it from other suppliers. Either way, you'll spend money buying the right paper.
Check Writing Software: What We Evaluated, What We Found
In our evaluation of check writing software, we focused on three key areas, as these are likely to help you narrow down the list and find the best application for your business.
Check writing software should offer multiple features for designing your own checks. This can be helpful because it ensures that your checks are formatted properly and will be accepted by financial institutions. All of the products on our list print personalized checks on blank stock or on prewritten checks, and each prints an authorizing signature, which saves you a great deal of time and hassle.
All 10 products in our review let you connect with multiple bank accounts, but only half print tax reports as well as paychecks. Most applications let you save information on your payees so you don't have to re-enter data multiple times. In addition, about half of the software on our list has a checkbook register built into the software so you can easily track expenses.
More than half of the applications we reviewed let you process ACH (Automatic Clearing House) or wire payments through the program, which is becoming increasingly important in the digital age.
Less than half of the programs on our list have an online portal and have the means for you to back up your data in the event your computer or network goes down. Only ezCheckPrinting offers a check printing software solution for Mac computers. However, if you don't want to deal with software you download to a desktop, there are two browser-based applications in our lineup: Create-A-Check and Checkeeper.
Our Verdict & Recommendations
The best check writing software for you depends largely on the needs of your company. ezCheckPrinting is the only company with a downloadable Mac program. ezCheckPrinting is the most affordable option.
If you want to access your software from anywhere, Checkeeper or Create-A-Check are both browser-based. For the best options for accounting and payroll integrations, we recommend MultiCHAX. InstiCheck offers the most comprehensive feature set of the software we reviewed, and SecureCheck 8 can be configured to handle the needs of any size business.
For more information about check writing software, check out our business articles.
Contributing Reviewer: Karina Fabian