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When looking at bank account options in Canada I can see that many still offer free personal cheques. To me this is something out of the movies, since I've never written a cheque as a (young) European. Are cheques still widely used in Canada or should I decline them when opening an account?

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    I'm looking at my wife's Canadian cheque book. The accountant that does our taxes seems to want to be paid by cheque, and the condominium company wanted void cheques to set up auto pay for the condo fees and utilities. That's it. I'd take the cheques just in case, though you might not ever use them. – Dennis Jan 1 '18 at 17:12
  • @Dennis aren't Interac payments instant and nearly free though? I wonder why checks would be preferred? – JonathanReez Supports Monica Jan 1 '18 at 17:25
  • @JonathanReez Cheques work without having email, and don't require you to have online banking. Companies will usually provide refunds by cheque, unless you have paid them by credit card, because companies generally will not give one-off payments electronically. Some banks charge a fee to send an Interac payment ,whereas cheques are generally free. There are third-party cheque printing services that print cheques more cheaply than banks provide them, too. (Also, FYI, the spelling "cheque" is a US-only spelling. All other English-speaking countries spell it "cheque", the original spelling. – Jim MacKenzie Jan 3 '18 at 23:15
  • @JimMacKenzie that's interesting. Here in Czech Republic banks usually compete over how well their online banking works and bank transfers are free, so that's how people do their banking. The only downside is that bank transfers take 1 day rather than being instant. – JonathanReez Supports Monica Jan 3 '18 at 23:36
  • @JonathanReez I think it's a bit of the if-it-ain't-broke-don't-fix-it mentality. Interac email payments have been relatively slowly adopted (even though Canada adopted POS debit payments fairly early). It's common to pay bills online, but it's not at all uncommon to get a cheque from somebody for something. Very small organizations in particular are unlikely to be set up to give electronic payments at all, for security reasons - you can require multiple signatures on a cheque, but there's no convenient way to require two electronic authorizations, at least to my knowledge. – Jim MacKenzie Jan 4 '18 at 0:23
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Yes, cheques are still very much in use in Canada. It's the cheapest way to send money because Interac transfer fees are CAD 1.50 last time I used it. My cheques are free. Landlords like to get paid using cheques. My insurance sent me a cheque to balance an overcharge, Michelin sent me a cheque to give me a "mail in rebate" and so forth. I also hadn't seen a cheque in over 20 years before I moved to Canada. I just wanted to give people my account number to send me the money. Instead account numbers are somewhat handled as a secret. Nowadays - when I have so transfer money - I write a cheque if I can hand it to the receiver in person and send Interac via email if the person is remote.

You can pay your bills directly from your account though. For this the receiver has to be set up at your bank. Eg. to pay my credit card I had to set up a bill to pay CIBC. That obviously doesn't work for just anybody.

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