Author Topic: Cheques / Checks!  (Read 7378 times)

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Ereine

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Re: Cheques / Checks!
« Reply #45 on: December 06, 2011, 02:17:52 AM »
I imagine that regulating banks in Finland is a lot easier than in the US (and that's an understatement), we are a small country and have a strong government influence in other ways too. Internet tells me that we have about 15 banks and most of them are national (though all won't have branches everywhere). I'm not really knowledgeable about the different types of banks but it seems to me that at least a few of the banks are sort of societies of local banks so that there will be Savings Bank of Turku and a Savings Bank of Helsinki and they are sort of the same thing but for more complicated things you'll have to visit your own branch. Then there's a bank that seems a bit like credit union that operates as a co-op but everyone can join them, I think. I've never had anything to do with those kind of banks so I don't know.

At the moment I'm a customer of two banks. One is an account I've had since I was a child and the bank was then owned by the government and part of the postal system, called Post Bank. Every post office was also a bank which was nice and we weren't tied to a certain branch like people in other banks (I knew people who had accounts in the savings bank of their home towns which was inconvenient when they moved away to study and still had to do all the more complicated things in their home town bank). Then in the 1990s it was separated from the post office, though the state still owned it and then it was merged with an insurance company and eventually sold to a Danish bank. And through all those years my account stayed the same. They have a bad reputation these days, for not really caring about customers and I'm only their customer because I got my student loan through them and it's expensive to move to another bank and because nobody else will give a credit card, they only did because I was a student with a certain amount of studies, it didn't matter that I was soon graduating and unlikely to get a job. Generally getting a credit card seems to be a lot more difficult here than in the US. My other bank won't even give me a debit card, even though I couldn't do any damage with it and am employed, though badly paid (so I have a sort of debit card that only works with certain type of card readers that always check if there are enough funds in the account and so it may not work everywhere, fortunately my other bank doesn't care and I have also a debit card from them). Most people seem to do what I do, which is to pay the credit card bill in full every month.

My other bank is also my insurance company, they started offering bank services a few years ago (as did one of the two big national chains of every possible type of shopping from department stores to restaurants to gas stations). I like them despite their refusal to give me the debit card. Most banks here aren't that interested in having lower income people as their customers and though you'll be able to get an account and won't be charged huge amount of money (my credit card bank charges me something like 30 or 40 euros a year for the credit and debit cards and for my account and nothing for online banking) you won't get any perks either. At my insurance company they've divided their services to maybe five different categories and because of my normal account, savings account (which most of the time has no savings in it), home insurance and accident insurance I cover four of them I'm in the second best class of customers despite having no money and get discounts in my insurance and don't pay anything for the bank services (or if I do it's very little). I like that. They are also quite interested in me and every year call me wanting to set up a meeting to discuss my finances, I always say that I have no money to do anything different but maybe the next time I'll go to ask about the debit card, because I'm curious.

kglory

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Re: Cheques / Checks!
« Reply #46 on: December 06, 2011, 02:18:00 AM »
I've never deposited money into an ATM - I believe they have that functionality, but I've never been in a situation where I have cash to deposit! Cash is something to be withdrawn when required for making small purchases or for giving to people I owe money to (if it's inconvenient to pay them online).  ;D I can think of 2-3 occasions in my life where I've received cheques, twice from businesses as reimbursements and the third as a wedding gift (interestingly enough, now I think of it - that was from a lovely US couple who are good friends with my parents!) on those occasions I found time in my schedule to go to the bank to put the cheques into my account.   But they were certainly odd occasions.

I'm curious, do people generally give money as wedding gifts where you live?  And if so, how do they do it if not by check -- is it by cash?  Or electronically depositing money into the couple's account?

Here in the US, even the most diehard, electronic banking people, people who pay all their monthly bills online, would never give a wedding gift of money other than by check.   First, you would have to get the banking account number of the happy couple -- meaning the couple would have to make public their bank account number to all invited guests!  That would never happen.  Plus, there's just something about sending a card with a check tastefully slipped inside that seems to be "the way it's done."  To transfer money into their bank account feels more cold and business-like to me.

That last part may be my personal bias, but the practicality concern is a real one, and is why even if online banking does become the way the majority pays their bills to corporations, I don't see it being feasible when giving gifts to individuals, such as at weddings.

Ereine

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Re: Cheques / Checks!
« Reply #47 on: December 06, 2011, 03:06:23 AM »
That wasn't a question for me, but in Finland nobody transfers money to an account as gift for weddings or at least it isn't customary. Most of the time it's cash in an envelope or a gift check (the only time checks are used these days) which can only be cashed at the bank it was issued at which makes it very inconvenient.

Larrabee

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Re: Cheques / Checks!
« Reply #48 on: December 06, 2011, 03:08:50 AM »
Banks in the UK are also big 'evil' corporations by and large but they are all bound by government regulations and as far as personal banking for individuals is concerned all operate in the same way more or less.

Everybody hasa 6 digit 'sort code' and an 8 digit 'account number' and with those two you can pay money into any bank from any other bank, you can't use those numbers to withdraw money though.

Banking is free, you can choose a 'premium' bank account where for a small monthly fee you get extras added on (such as a bigger automatic overdraft, insurances, breakdown cover, better interest rates on related products etc.) but everybody has the right to a basic bank account for free. 

We don't pay fees for moving money around, only if we spend money we haven't got or want to use 'premium' service like 'CHAPS' which is a service that allows you to move a large sum of money and guarantees it will be at its destination almost immediately, that gets used for things like house deposits IME.  A normal 'BACS' transfer is free and will arrive within 3 days generally.

So the banks are individual bodies, but there are a lot of systems that help them communicate as it were and its pretty easy for people to move their money around with little hassle and for free.

Snooks

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Re: Cheques / Checks!
« Reply #49 on: December 06, 2011, 05:52:39 AM »
Birthday and Christmas money normally comes in cheque form, although my ILs BACS us money.  My parents, brother and I all BACS each other if we owe money to each other.

If you've got the account number and sort code, along with the registered address of the account holder you can set up direct debits I think, there was a story a few years ago when Jeremy Clarkson published his details in The Times to prove it wasn't an issue when the government lost lots of people's details: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/7174760.stm

Redsoil

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Re: Cheques / Checks!
« Reply #50 on: December 06, 2011, 07:33:39 AM »
You will find that the rural community in Australia use cheques a lot, unlike private citizens.  Most farms run accounts with merchants, and settle up each month.  Certainly that's how we operate.  The option is available to bank electronically, but it's a useful book-keeping function to operate a chequebook, especially for older farming generations.  There is talk of making cheques redundant, but you'll all hear the howls of protest from the rural sector if that day comes!

Even at work, some patients will pay via cheque.  Again, mainly from the farming community or older patients.
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SamiHami

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Re: Cheques / Checks!
« Reply #51 on: December 06, 2011, 08:47:23 AM »
Interesting discussion!

I am in the southeastern US. I no longer use checks at all; I don't even have any. It's been at least a year, probably closer to two years, since I've written one.

My bank does not charge a fee for online bill payment. As far as vendors that don't accept debit/credit cards, like the guy that mows my lawn, I have him set up as a vendor in my account and when I do bills, the bank issues a check and mails it to him. The only automatic payment I have set up is my mortgage. Otherwise I just go in and make my bill payments myself. Takes about 5 minutes and I don't have to worry about payments being lost in the mail or even purchasing postage.

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Dindrane

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Re: Cheques / Checks!
« Reply #52 on: December 06, 2011, 10:43:50 AM »
It sounds like perhaps the reason why banks seemed so much more coordinated during the time I spent in Europe is just because governments there have created regulations that make it so (and probably also make it easier and more cost effective for the banks to actually do it :)).

Personally, my first bank account was with a national bank (that has since been taken over by a different national bank).  They were the only bank that would give me a free checking account when I was 17 and had no real income, so I hung on to that checking account all through college.  When I moved to where I live now, there were few enough branches of that bank to make it seriously inconvenient, so I opened an account in a credit union (that gave me an interest-bearing checking account!  It still feels too good to be true, even though falling interest rates mean it's not nearly the awesome deal it used to be).

It completely blew my mind when I realized that my credit union had a set-up with the Automatic Clearinghouse (ACH) that allowed me to "claim" my other bank account, and then transfer money freely between two entirely different institutions, free of charge.  It took 5 business days, so it was hardly instantaneous, but I've never known of any other bank that allows that at all.  Often, the fastest and easiest way for me to transfer money between bank accounts was to just write myself a check.

So perhaps that might explain, at least a little, why US Ehellions might wonder at how exactly it all works when European/Australian/NZ Ehellions talk about depositing money via electronic transfer into other people's accounts.  Even transferring money between two of my own accounts is not something I expect to be able to do (unless they're in the same bank), so I wouldn't have the first clue as to how to do it with an account that belonged to someone else.


Ceallach

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Re: Cheques / Checks!
« Reply #53 on: December 06, 2011, 05:18:39 PM »
I've never deposited money into an ATM - I believe they have that functionality, but I've never been in a situation where I have cash to deposit! Cash is something to be withdrawn when required for making small purchases or for giving to people I owe money to (if it's inconvenient to pay them online).  ;D I can think of 2-3 occasions in my life where I've received cheques, twice from businesses as reimbursements and the third as a wedding gift (interestingly enough, now I think of it - that was from a lovely US couple who are good friends with my parents!) on those occasions I found time in my schedule to go to the bank to put the cheques into my account.   But they were certainly odd occasions.

I'm curious, do people generally give money as wedding gifts where you live?  And if so, how do they do it if not by check -- is it by cash?  Or electronically depositing money into the couple's account?

Here in the US, even the most diehard, electronic banking people, people who pay all their monthly bills online, would never give a wedding gift of money other than by check.   First, you would have to get the banking account number of the happy couple -- meaning the couple would have to make public their bank account number to all invited guests!  That would never happen.  Plus, there's just something about sending a card with a check tastefully slipped inside that seems to be "the way it's done."  To transfer money into their bank account feels more cold and business-like to me.

That last part may be my personal bias, but the practicality concern is a real one, and is why even if online banking does become the way the majority pays their bills to corporations, I don't see it being feasible when giving gifts to individuals, such as at weddings.

It's traditional and normal to give physical gifts (which are brought to the reception and put on the gift table!) rather than money.   But it's becoming more common for people to do money registries, e.g. honeymoon registry etc.  In which case people deposit their money / make their contribution online.   I've never been to a wedding with a "wishing well" which is a *charming* (sarcasm) concept a few people here have "adopted" because they heard about it on the internet, but I assume some people might use a cheque in those circumstances or just deposit cash.   

The other common gift if a person doesn't want to give a physical gift is store gift cards - which are purchased in store with your credit card, or purchased online, and then given in a card at the reception (usually put on the gift table....) .  For my wedding we had a combination of physical gifts (dozen of 'em) plus we'd spread the word that if people couldn't think of anything they could get us BigStore gift cards.  (Spread the word by telling our parents for if people asked them - which they did).  We got around $1200 in gift cards as I recall. 
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Gwywnnydd

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Re: Cheques / Checks!
« Reply #54 on: December 06, 2011, 06:31:32 PM »
One thing I will point out is that, in the United States, most people don't really have the ability to electronically deposit money into someone else's account.  I bank with a credit union, and they have a super fancy electronic funds transfer feature available to their members that is far more than I've ever been able to do elsewhere.  But even with that, it only allows me to transfer money between bank accounts that I personally own.  I wouldn't be able to use it to give money to someone unless they were willing to give me a level of access that would also allow me to withdraw money.

My credit union offers the ability for me to set up another BECU account owned by someone else (in this case, my mother) as a recipient for transfers, but not a source for transfers. It took filing a specific form, with the account number in hand, but was overall pretty smooth.

And now I can pay my rent (to my mom) or my utilities (again, to my mom) at 3AM in my pajamas, should the mood strike me and I have the money in my account.

One of many reasons I just today closed the BofA account I've had since 1991.

CakeEater

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Re: Cheques / Checks!
« Reply #55 on: December 07, 2011, 06:05:52 AM »
I've never deposited money into an ATM - I believe they have that functionality, but I've never been in a situation where I have cash to deposit! Cash is something to be withdrawn when required for making small purchases or for giving to people I owe money to (if it's inconvenient to pay them online).  ;D I can think of 2-3 occasions in my life where I've received cheques, twice from businesses as reimbursements and the third as a wedding gift (interestingly enough, now I think of it - that was from a lovely US couple who are good friends with my parents!) on those occasions I found time in my schedule to go to the bank to put the cheques into my account.   But they were certainly odd occasions.

I'm curious, do people generally give money as wedding gifts where you live?  And if so, how do they do it if not by check -- is it by cash?  Or electronically depositing money into the couple's account?

Here in the US, even the most diehard, electronic banking people, people who pay all their monthly bills online, would never give a wedding gift of money other than by check.   First, you would have to get the banking account number of the happy couple -- meaning the couple would have to make public their bank account number to all invited guests!  That would never happen.  Plus, there's just something about sending a card with a check tastefully slipped inside that seems to be "the way it's done."  To transfer money into their bank account feels more cold and business-like to me.

That last part may be my personal bias, but the practicality concern is a real one, and is why even if online banking does become the way the majority pays their bills to corporations, I don't see it being feasible when giving gifts to individuals, such as at weddings.

Australian here. About half of our gurests gave cash at our wedding 6 years ago. One or two cheques, mostly cash. We always give cash if we give money as a wedding gift. It wouldn't surprise me to see bank account details given out, but I haven't as yet. As someone posted upthread, you can't do anything with an account number except deposit money. I would have no qualms giving my account number to many people I know.

barefoot_girl

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Re: Cheques / Checks!
« Reply #56 on: December 07, 2011, 11:59:07 AM »
I'm in the UK, and its really interesting to see how many people say that they never write cheques. I get through a whole chequebook (25 cheques) every 3 months or so. I write a cheque every week for DD's lunch money, plus random cheques throughout the week for school trips, Brownie subs and events, the window-cleaner, etc.

ClaireC79

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Re: Cheques / Checks!
« Reply #57 on: December 07, 2011, 12:24:01 PM »
the kids school is the only thing I ever write cheques for and since I moved to packed lunch very rarely

camlan

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Re: Cheques / Checks!
« Reply #58 on: December 09, 2011, 09:01:55 AM »
A couple of things that might be factors in the slow adoption of electronic fund transfers in the US--until 1997, it was difficult for a bank to have a presence in more than one state. So banking was pretty localized. And there are over 10,000 banks in the US. Getting that many banks to agree on a single method for transferring funds is going to be difficult.

And a question from the US side of things--a PP mentioned having an account at the Post Office, and I've read English novels where characters refer to getting their money from the Post Office. Does the Post Office in other countries also run a bank? There's nothing like that here in the US.
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Carotte

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Re: Cheques / Checks!
« Reply #59 on: December 09, 2011, 04:36:36 PM »
Does the Post Office in other countries also run a bank? There's nothing like that here in the US.

In France we also have the banque postale ( postal banque ), I think they do what any other bank would do. In rural zones they are often the only bank available. And now they offer cellphone plans.

I get cheques every christmas or birthday ( from grandparents, aunt/godmother ), and my parents write cheques for my school, to pay the cleaning lady, the frozen food delivery..