Target Announces Plans to Stop Taking Personal Checks Citing ‘Extremely Low Volumes’

By: Alex Trent | Published: Jul 09, 2024

US retailer Target recently announced that starting Jul 15, it would no longer accept personal checks as a method of payment at the checkout.

This latest move comes amid several recent ones aimed at streamlining the checkout process and improving customer queue times.

Target Announcement

In an announcement first reported by KARE, Target announced the axing of personal checks as a valid form of payment, citing concerns about crafting a convenient checkout experience.

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A close-up on red Target carts.

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“Target is committed to creating an easy and convenient checkout experience, and that includes providing our guests with numerous ways to pay,” said a Target spokesperson.

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Low Volumes

In an email to CBS News, Target expanded on this idea, saying that ‘extremely low volumes’ have led to the decision to stop taking personal checks.

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A late evening view of a Target store's facade featuring the red and white Target logo with a tree to the left and cars parked in front

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“Due to extremely low volumes, we’ll no longer accept personal checks starting July 15,” a Target spokesperson said in an email.

Informing Customers

While the news may be sudden for some, Target is doing its best to notify its customers ahead of time so that it is less of a surprise.

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Outside of a Target retail store.

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“We have taken several measures to notify guests in advance to aid an easy and efficient checkout experience,” the Target spokesperson said.

Not Many Use Checks

According to a 2023 study by GoBankingRates.com, as many as 46% of Americans did not write a single check in a year.

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A man writes notes on a sheet of paper.

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Only 4% of Americans surveyed wrote more than 12 checks in a year as digital ways to pay become ubiquitous, expected, and commonplace.

Why is Writing Checks So Uncommon?

The benefits of convenience and instantaneous money transfer through various apps and services make the slow process of writing a check less popular.

Close-up of a person's hands as they count a stack of US dollar bills. The person is wearing a dark blue shirt, and their fingernails are painted in a light color

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“Besides the odd property tax bill or service person who only takes checks and credit cards; electronic payments can handle everything else,” said Jay Zigmont, Ph.D., CFP and founder of Childfree Wealth. “It may not be about using apps or fancy tools, but just using basic credit cards and electronic funds transfers.”

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Retail Workers Hate Checks

People commenting on the Target announcement shared their experience in retail, asserting that people writing checks slowed down line queues for other customers.

A man checks out after purchasing using a tablet to complete his order while a worker in an apron stands before him.

Source; Blake Wisz/Unsplash

“I worked as a cashier at a grocery store about 7 years ago and check writers were the worst. Some were ok, because they would start writing the check before I would start scanning their stuff. But most would wait till all their stuff was scanned, bagged, and put into their cart before they would even think about pulling out their checkbook. Then they would need to check the store name, date, and total owed about 6 times before I had to run it through the check scanner 4-5 times before it took,” said a Reddit user.

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Transaction Fees

One benefit of using cash or checks is that the company gets to save on transaction fees for purchases, and some businesses even offer discounts for it.

A man sat at his desk with a laptop and credit card. He is holding the card and is putting the numbers from it into his laptop.

Source: rupixen.com/Unsplash

“I am using paper checks again because my dentist gives me a 5% discount. I paid out of pocket for 3 crowns and that was my incentive to get paper checks. Then the company that fixed my crawlspace gave me $275 off a $10k bill for using a paper check. The guys who cut some trees down on my property gave me 3% off. And a junk hauler refused any form of credit card but did take a check. It felt strange to write checks again after 20+ years, but saving money is nice,” said a Reddit user.

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Target’s Competitors

Although Target has decided to refuse to accept personal checks, some of its competitors are still taking them.

An image of the Walmart website on a laptop

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Notably, Target’s rival Walmart still accepts personal checks. However, Target’s move to cancel checks follows other retailers like Aldi’s and Whole Foods. Whole Foods has said in the past that it doesn’t allow checks so that processing payments goes faster.

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Target’s Recent Moves

This year, Target has made moves that are intended to make the checkout process quicker and the store experience more streamlined.

A Target self-checkout machine.

Source: Mike Mozart/Wikimedia Commons

In March, Target announced that it would be limiting self-checkout lanes to 10 items or less and opening more traditional lanes to compensate.

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Pandemic Adjustments

Reportedly, Target had made changes to stores in response to the pandemic that it is now reverting back, hoping to allow the self-checkout lanes to be for “quick trips” again.

A person wears a mask to protect against the pandemic.

Source: Usman Yousaf/Usnplash

“By having the option to pick self-checkout for a quick trip, or a traditional, staffed lane when their cart is full, guests who were surveyed told us the overall checkout experience was better, too,” the company said in March.

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Theft As a Motivator

While Target frames the new policies as a way to streamline the customer experience, these moves come in the context of retailers grappling with what to do with a rise in coordinated retail theft.

A pair of handcuffs sitting around a stack of bills.

Source: Bermix Studio/Unsplash

In June, Target introduced a policy that allowed their employees to stop thefts of $50 or more, which was an expansion of the previous policy that required a $100 threshold.

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