I'm out of checks, rent is due, bank is closed. What do I do to solve this by Thursday?
August 1, 2010 2:41 PM   Subscribe

I'm out of checks. As you can see by the date, rent is due. It's a Sunday and I can't go to the bank for help. I have four days after today to get it in by. What do I do?

Yes, I feel really stupid for only noticing this NOW. I only have to write checks to 3 different things that don't do auto bank pay, so I didn't realize that I ran out after several years.

1. I have five days (today being day #1 and obviously wasted) to get a rent check in.
2. Being that it is a Sunday, I cannot talk to the bank. I tried calling the "help" number, but since my question wasn't a standardized one I got nowhere. All I can glean from the Internet is that my bank doesn't do counter checks.
3. Is there any other way to get this problem solved other than spending over $100 to get checks made and mailed to me ASAP and hope to god they show by Thursday? Not only do I not want to financially do that, if I do it I'll have to skip work to sit at home and wait for evil UPS and a forced signature because apparently my work is not a "valid" address to ship to.

What do banks do these days when you have this kind of situation? Am I going to have to ask them for far more cash than an ATM would dole out, or what?

(Bank rhymes with "mace" if that helps the question any.)
posted by jenfullmoon to Work & Money (38 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Cashier's check? It might cost a small fee, but you can do it whenever the bank opens.
posted by rachaelfaith at 2:44 PM on August 1, 2010 [4 favorites]

Why don't you just get a money order if you don't want to give your landlord cash? Or email your landlord the money. Or deposit it in your landlord's bank account.

All of these I have done in the past to pay rent in this situation.
posted by miles1972 at 2:45 PM on August 1, 2010

Go to the bank tomorrow and get out enough cash to cover your rent. Go to a Wawa and get a money order.

Problem solved.
posted by Loto at 2:45 PM on August 1, 2010

Money order? You can pay with a debit card.
posted by Pax at 2:46 PM on August 1, 2010

So you have four days from today to turn in the rent.

1) The bank may have blank checks that you fill out. When I didn't have checks, I went to my bank (rhymes with Blockovia) and they gave me a piece of paper that you write your account number, routing number, address, etc. on and it becomes a valid check.

2) Go to your bank and ask for a cashier's check. I don't know about your bank, but I remember this cost me $6 when I needed it done.

3) Go to your bank and withdraw rent money as cash, then get a money order with it and give that to your landlord.
posted by rancidchickn at 2:48 PM on August 1, 2010 [1 favorite]

Cashier's check. I do this almost every month. It's like $2. I've never belonged to a bank that didn't do them. It's very easy.
posted by ishotjr at 2:48 PM on August 1, 2010 [2 favorites]

You could go and buy money orders using your check card or a credit card or cash (taken from an ATM). Or you could just go to the bank tomorrow and get some blank checks (ones without a printed name and address), I've never done this for an established account, but since banks do it for new accounts I'm sure they can do it for old ones. (Of course there will be a fee, it is a bank, but it won't be a hundred dollars.)

Legally, you can write a check on anything. A postit notes, a banana peal or a one by four piece of wood have all been used, (it just has to have the usual form and the tracking numbers) but payees and the bank hate it when people do that, so I'd try getting blank checks first.
posted by Some1 at 2:51 PM on August 1, 2010 [1 favorite]

Call your landlord and tell them what you told us. They might be cool about it and give you and extension until you have checks. Otherwise, all of the above.
posted by marimeko at 2:54 PM on August 1, 2010 [1 favorite]

If none of the above works on the grounds that you have to go somewhere and you have no time (or whatever,) double check to see if your bank's auto-pay system doesn't have a way of adding individual payees. My storage unit in CA and my landlord here aren't in my bank's system, but my bank had an option to mail a physical check automatically instead of doing the transfer. I also used this system to repay a loan from my parents - there was no chance of forgetting.

Doing this with all my regular payments also reduced my need to order new checks - I write about 25 a year now.
posted by SMPA at 2:58 PM on August 1, 2010

Does your bank offer online bill-pay? Many banks will effectively write & mail checks for you for free.
posted by kickingtheground at 2:58 PM on August 1, 2010

The bank will give you temporary checks, they cost like $2 each for a minimum of four and they make them while you wait.
posted by fshgrl at 2:58 PM on August 1, 2010

My banks have always been able to print up 10 or so checks for me inside the branch. They're like the temporary checks from days of old, but they print your name and address on them, account details etc. People you write the check to would never know the difference from a regular check.

If that isn't an option get a money order tomorrow.
posted by birdherder at 3:02 PM on August 1, 2010

I came to say what fshgrl said--the couple of times I've run out of checks, the teller could print me out of a sheet of 3 while I waited. My credit union doesn't charge for the first sheet.
posted by not that girl at 3:03 PM on August 1, 2010

Call up your landlord, explain the situation to him and ask him what he wants to be done. Maybe he'll tell you it's ok to wait until you have more checks. Maybe he'll tell you to get a cashier's check. Etc.
posted by dfriedman at 3:08 PM on August 1, 2010

Banker's check? Is that the same thing as a cashier's check? We just got one this week to pay a big fee that had to be guaranteed by the bank. The bank draws funds from your account and then writes a check from it's own "account" with your name as the Memo. This way, whoever receives the check knows it won't bounce, as it is really from the bank itself. It cost $4 to have one of these printed by TD Bank.
posted by Tandem Affinity at 3:11 PM on August 1, 2010

I second money orders. I've used them to pay rent checks in the past.
posted by Bwithh at 3:16 PM on August 1, 2010

Go to Staples, buy a set of blank checks that you print on your home computer, and make your own (legal) check. It'll probably be in the business software section. You don't even have to have the right software, so long as you're willing to play around with the formatting a bit.
posted by NotMyselfRightNow at 3:24 PM on August 1, 2010

Everyone here has your question answered, but for future note: most landlords are thrilled if you offer to write out a year's worth of postdated checks in advance-- gives them one less check to collect each month, and works on your end just like an automatic payment would. Worked well for me for years!
posted by mireille at 3:34 PM on August 1, 2010

I'm not sure why a good number of people in this thread (ok, something like 6/17 answerers) suggested that the OP uses cashier's cheques or some variation thereof (so, banker's cheques or any sort of blank or temporary cheque), when she specifically said that her bank doesn't offer them. If her bank doesn't offer them, they don't offer them.

I was in exactly this situation last month, albeit in Canada, with a Canadian bank that doesn't offer cashier's cheques (but their US subsidiary still does, for some reason). The solution that will probably be most amenable to your landlord and give you the best proof of payment is to get a money order. If you tell your landlord that you are holding off on rent so that you can obtain cheques, they will likely assume that you don't have the rent money when it's due and you'll look bad. You should be able to walk into your bank on Monday morn and purchase a money order for a nominal fee.
posted by thisjax at 3:46 PM on August 1, 2010

I think the most useful suggestion offered is to go to the bank Monday morning and get a few counter checks and pay your bills. Order new checks while you're there.

Money orders would work, but they're more expensive and involve more hassle.

For future reference, find out if you can pay your rent online. I pay my landlord by doing an electronic funds transfer from my account to his. Easy to do online, and he gets his money the same day. If all his tenants did this, he wouldn't need to pay someone to handle paper checks.
posted by justcorbly at 3:58 PM on August 1, 2010

The 24-hour Wal-Mart near me has a kiosk up near the front which dispenses money orders - I noticed this last night, and thought it might be helpful at some point. This might be that point!
posted by julthumbscrew at 3:59 PM on August 1, 2010

Oh, before I forget, don't futz around with cashier's checks. Unnecessary for your needs. Counter checks are fine. Don't let the fact that your name is printed on your checks lead you astray. It doesn't mean anything. What counts is the bank's readiness to cash the check. And that depends entirely on how much money you have in the account. Any sod with a printing press can make checks with anyone's name on them.
posted by justcorbly at 4:02 PM on August 1, 2010

I'm confused. Is there some reason that you can't walk up to the bank counter tomorrow, withdraw the cash, and then drop it off at your landlord's place? Ask him or her for a written receipt, of course, but cash is still legal tender to everyone that I have to pay.
posted by chrisamiller at 4:05 PM on August 1, 2010

thisjax- he says that from what he can glean his bank doesn't do counter checks but doesn't say anything about cashier's checks which they ABSOLUTELY do because my bank also rhymes with "mace" and I've gotten them before from them.
posted by magnetsphere at 4:12 PM on August 1, 2010

I don't understand why people are reluctant to name businesses in this sort of situation; the rhyming thing is really unhelpful. Anyway, agreed, Chase issues cashier's checks. You can also use their online bill pay service to send a check for overnight delivery. It costs a whopping $15, but you don't have to leave the house.

for future note: most landlords are thrilled if you offer to write out a year's worth of postdated checks in advance

For future note, there is absolutely nothing to stop the landlord from cashing all these checks the next day. Banks can and do honor postdated checks.
posted by grouse at 4:33 PM on August 1, 2010 [3 favorites]

The bank should have "blank" cheques (counter checks) for you to use, don't go by what you read on the web, go to the bank itself. If you have to mail it in, use next day express mail from USPS, or get a messenger service to deliver it to your landlord.
posted by fifilaru at 4:51 PM on August 1, 2010

Money order or just pay cash and apologize for doing so.
posted by meepmeow at 5:17 PM on August 1, 2010

Banks can and do honor postdated checks.

I had a good personal relationship with all of my landlords over the years and was totally unaware of this, having had no problems whatsoever (and no other use for cheques). Advice duly retracted!
posted by mireille at 5:44 PM on August 1, 2010

Someone else mentioned online bill-pay. I have used it before to write cheques from my account, they will get it to your landlord as fast as the US mail goes. No extra charge last time I tried it with the bank which rhymes with mace.
posted by kellyblah at 6:14 PM on August 1, 2010

I'll also point out that the online billpay at chase.com lets you send checks to people who don't accept electronic checks. It takes 5 days instead of 1 and they actually print a check and put it in the mail for you. In the OP's case, I think this advice is probably 1 or 2 days too late, but if the other 2 checks have a few more days, you could probably do this.
posted by CathyG at 6:20 PM on August 1, 2010

Just wanted to nth Money Order. My roommate ages ago bounced too many checks and was actually required to pay rent with a money order. Most gas stations/convenience stores do them for like $1.50.
posted by ThaBombShelterSmith at 9:15 PM on August 1, 2010

Money orders seem like the obvious solution to me. You can get them at the Post Office for cheap. They're either $1 or $1.50 depending on how much your rent is. I've used debit card or cash to buy them. Easy!
posted by Ginkgo at 9:33 PM on August 1, 2010

I just don't see the problem. You have almost a week! There are so many great answers here... money order, cashier's check, CASH (legal tender for all debts public and private).

My landlord (Equity) actually turns checks into electronic drafts. They much, much prefer you pay online.
posted by lhauser at 10:28 PM on August 1, 2010

Go to the bank tomorrow and ask for a cheque, if you're not comfortable paying cash. They'll usually give you a free, generic non-address carrying cheque.
posted by Phalene at 7:18 AM on August 2, 2010

Well, turns out that Chase does offer the counter checks, or at least my branch does. (The teller said it might vary from bank to bank.) So I got some and all is well. Thank you guys for your help, I was glad to know what my options were going into the bank in case it went poorly.
posted by jenfullmoon at 1:06 PM on August 2, 2010

Just posting this for future readers...

I always pay my rent with money orders. A previous commenter stated that money orders are more expensive than cashier's checks, but I think that depends on how much your bank charges you for a cashier's check. Mine charges $8, while you can get a money order at the Giant for $1 (so even though I have to get 3 money orders to cover the amount of my rent, I still save $5 over the cashier's check from my bank).
posted by spinto at 8:18 AM on August 3, 2010

Yeah, but you have to carry hundreds of dollars of cash with you to the seller of money orders. There are banks and credit unions that issue cashier's checks for free. If you need one on a monthly basis, you should find a better bank for your needs.
posted by grouse at 10:00 AM on August 3, 2010

For future note, there is absolutely nothing to stop the landlord from cashing all these checks the next day. Banks can and do honor postdated checks.
posted by grouse at 7:33 PM on August 1 [4 favorites +] [!]

Yeah I had a frustrating conversation with my rental company a few years ago about this. I was going out of town for the holidays, so I went to drop off the rent check like two weeks early, post-dated for the 1st, and told them what the deal was. Their response was basically, "the bank will cash a check no matter what the date says and if you leave it with us we're cashing it right away". Thanks a lot guys.
posted by Who_Am_I at 1:08 PM on August 5, 2010

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