duplicate vs single check

Difference Between Single Vs Duplicate Checks: Which is Better?

You often have to remit money to different entities. These entities can be your loved ones, people from whom you have purchased something say your grocery shop owner,  businesses you have transacted with, etc. So, how do individuals and businesses ensure smooth money transfers to the intended parties? It is very simple – by opening a checking account. But, checking accounts are of two types – single and duplicate. Now the million-dollar question confronting you might be how do you decide which is better between single vs duplicate checks?

Let us find the answer for the same and see who wins the battle between single checks vs duplicate checks.

Single Vs Duplicate Checks – Basics

A single check is a type of check that is issued without a carbon copy underneath it. In other words, single checks have no duplicates. A single checkbook is, therefore, light-weighted as the checkbook size is reduced to half sans duplicate copies.

What Are Duplicate Checks?

A duplicate check is a type of cheque that is issued with a carbon copy below the original check. Thus, there are two copies of each issued cheque. However, since there is a duplicate copy beneath every check, a duplicate checkbook is bulky.

Single Vs Duplicate Checks – Transaction Safety and Proof

The two things that may often bother you while executing financial transactions are transaction security and evidence. While a single check will more often than not successfully transfer money to the concerned parties, what would happen if the check, unfortunately, gets lost, mutilated, or stolen? Apart from the risk of losing your money, you now run the risk of the payee/intended recipient filing a case of default against you.

Under such circumstances, you need strong proof that you indeed issued a check to the concerned payee with your signature and a date on it. Without the same, you may lose the case in the court of law and be penalized for default. This implies that you now have to pay a higher amount to the payee – the original payable amount plus penalty charges. Moreover, if the defaulted amount was huge, you may face harsher punishment. Thus, between a single check Vs duplicate check, a duplicate check is safer as you have an additional copy as transaction proof in case of any dispute.

However, whether you lose a single or a duplicate check, the risks of them being misused by miscreants are equal for both. Hence, in case of loss or theft of a check, you may immediately contact your bank and stop the payment. You may not worry much about the loss of a duplicate copy, as most of the time, they do not contain sensitive information like a bank account number or signature.

Single Vs Duplicate Checks – Record Keeping

single vs duplicate checks

Source: theydiffer.com

As there are no duplicate copies for single checks, you have to record vital details like payee name, check issue date, and check amount in the check register. The register may be in paper or online form. You may have to sign in to your account to access your e-register for record-keeping. Conversely, every duplicate check composed need not be recorded in the register as you already have a backup copy. 

Thus, between single check vs duplicate check, the latter is time-saving as it minimizes the need to record details of all checks issued. It also reduces manual work.

Single Vs Duplicate Checks – Other Differences

  • Costs: Usually, duplicate checks are costlier than single checks, as they contain carbon copies underneath each check. Moreover, checks are usually sold by the box and the number of duplicate checks per box is lower than that of single checks per box. Hence, you may exhaust your duplicate checks faster. Consequently, you may procure duplicate checks more frequently, thereby leading to a further rise in check purchase costs.
  • Writing pressure: You do not have to exert much pressure while writing a single check as there is no carbon copy beneath it. However, the same is not applicable for duplicate checks, as you have to exert reasonably heavy writing pressure to ensure that the backup copy is clear and unambiguous.
  • Convenience: As small checks are lighter than duplicate checks, their mobility and convenience quotient is higher. In other words, single checks are most suitable for frequent travelers or individuals constantly on the move. They are also more suitable for small businesses and retailers with lower transaction volumes and less costly transactions.
  • Risk of obsolescence: Technology advancements have led to the large-scale adoption of online payments, paperless transactions, instant payment applications, and electronic records. As duplicate checks are costlier than single checks, the resultant money wastage due to obsolescence of checks is higher for duplicate checks.

Single Vs Duplicate Checks – Summary Table

Sr. No.Evaluation ParameterSingle checkDuplicate check
1DefinitionA check style that comprises single pages without carbon copies beneath original checks.A check style that comprises carbon copies underneath original checks. 
2Check duplicationNoYes. Every check you write is automatically duplicated.
3Checkbook weightSmall and LightLarge and Bulky
4SecurityAs no backup copies of issued checks are present, you have no transaction evidence in case of any dispute. Lack of valid proof may make it tougher for you to prove your innocence in court.A Duplicate copy serves as sufficient proof that the two parties involved have indeed committed to a monetary transaction. The check issue date and signature on the carbon copy prove the credibility and trustworthiness of the check issuer.
5Record-keepingRequire meticulous maintenance of transaction records in check registers.Backup copies of original checks minimize the need for maintaining detailed records in check registers.
6PriceRelatively cheaper.Expensive.
7Check writingYou don’t need to press hard against the paper or exert too much writing pressure.You may have to press hard against the paper or exert excess writing pressure to ensure that the backup copy is clear and transparent.
8Number of checks per boxMoreLess
9Convenience or mobilityHighLow
10Target audienceIndividuals, retailers, micro and small enterprises, all entities engaged in small-value transactions, frequent travelers.Entities with high transaction volumes or expensive transactions, large organizations.
11Carbon paperSingle checks don’t involve duplication and hence there is no need for carbon paper.Duplicate checks require carbon paper to create a backup copy as transaction proof.
12Money wastage due to obsolescenceLowHigh

Single Vs Duplicate Checks – Closing Words

single vs duplicate checks

Source: bankrate.com

At first glance, the comparison between single check Vs duplicate check may seem confusing. However, a deeper study of what are duplicate checks reveals that a duplicate check is nothing but a variant of a single check to solve the problem of lack of transaction evidence in case of a dispute. Both of them have the same functional purpose of transferring money to the intended payee.

But, when we distinguish between single Vs duplicate checks based on various evaluation criteria, the latter wins the battle. While single checks are cheap, light, and convenient, duplicate checks score higher points on important parameters like transaction safety, evidence, and record-keeping. Duplicate checks safeguard you against any kind of disputes arising due to loss, damage, or theft of checks.

Hence, irrespective of both checking accounts ensuring smooth money transfers, between single Vs duplicate checks, duplicate checks are better.

Also Read: FreeChecking Accounts: One Easy Way To Gain Money Access

Key Takeaways

  • Single checks come in single pages with no duplication. On the other hand, duplicate checks will always have an extra copy of every check issued.
  • Single checkbooks are light while duplicate checkbooks are heavy.
  • A duplicate check is more secure than a single check. You possess a duplicate copy of the original check as transaction evidence in case of any dispute. 
  • Depending on the bank/company issuing the duplicate check, duplicate copies will most of the time not contain sensitive details like bank account number, signature, etc. However, if they do, then you may safeguard your carbon copies too from loss or theft.
  • As duplicate checks already have a backup copy, you need not worry even if details of all checks composed, are not recorded in the check register.
  • Single checks are cheaper and more in number in a box than duplicate checks.
  • You have to exert more writing pressure while composing duplicate checks as opposed to single checks.
  • Single checks are easier and more convenient to carry as compared to duplicate checks.
  • Duplicate checks are better if you engage in a large number of expensive transactions.
  • Duplicate checks are ideal for large organizations or businesses with a record number of day-to-day remittances of high amounts.

For more finance-related concepts you can have a look at the FinanceShed, and stay tuned for more updates.