Payroll checks are only valid if printed on paper stock containing security features to prevent fraud. Many vendors provide options from blank payroll check stock to customized colored paper with logos to support your employer brand. Expect to pay from $20 for a ream of 100 blank payroll checks up to hundreds of dollars for custom checks.
Consider outsourcing payroll to a full service provider like ADP, which lets you easily process payroll, calculate and file payroll taxes, and pay employees via direct deposit. ADP can also print, sign, and mail your employees physical paychecks on your behalf. Click here for a free quote.
Payroll Check Paper Stock Vendor Comparison
Blank payroll check paper can be purchased online or locally at an office supply retailer or membership store. Prices range from $30 to $460 a ream based on features and customization. Most paper stock typically includes room for pay stub details. Below are examples of different places you can buy payroll check paper, including from a custom printer.
|What You Can Get||Sample Cost|
|Office Supply Store (Staples or Office Max)||Ream of blank payroll check paper for a laser printer||$37.99 per ream of 500|
|Membership Store (Sam’s Club or Costco)||Ream of blank payroll check paper for a laser printer||$45.80* per ream of 500|
|Online Retailers||Blank or custom checks with security features and perforations||$30 per ream of 500 at Amazon, or $89 for 500 customized checks at EZ Checks**|
|Custom Check Printer||Custom checks with high security and perforations in multiple colors, styles and layouts||$240 per ream of 500 at Print Globe, or $460 per ream of 500 with duplicates at Deluxe|
* Requires business membership
** Includes free shipping
Printing Payroll Checks and Pay Stubs
You can print your own payroll checks with check paper stock that includes security features like heat-sensitive ink, chemically sensitive paper, microprint, a watermark, or the word ‘void’ that prints if someone tries to make a photocopy of the check. Some check vendors offer checks with a hologram as a security feature.
If your printer and software combined allow you to custom print your own documents, you may have the option to print direct deposit advices using plain paper. However, due to the lack of security, such as a patterned background, or watermarks, you aren’t able to print valid payroll checks on plain white paper. Specialized check stock is needed.
Computer Payroll Check Requirements
The type of payroll check paper stock you need will vary based on the software and printer (inkjet, laser or dot matrix) you use. For example, QuickBooks, lets you choose the layout of your checks and specifies the kind of paper. Check with your payroll software provider to ensure that the payroll checks you buy are compatible with your payroll software.
Cost of Payroll Check Stock
Payroll check paper stock typically costs between $40 for a ream of 500 blank checks to $240 and up for 500 checks customized with a standard logo and your business name. You can buy fewer than 500, but you’ll pay much more per check.
If you want form fed paper for your inkjet printer for instance, or duplicate or triplicate thickness paper that provides copies as it prints, it will cost extra. You will also pay more if you order payroll checks with a custom logo or custom colors instead of blank paycheck stock. But, you’ll typically save money if you order a larger quantity at one time.
Finally, make sure that you account for the cost of image set up, taxes, and shipping if you order paper checks online.
Payroll Checks vs. Personal Checks vs. Business Checks
Payroll check paper stock includes room for the specific fields you need to record the payroll information you need to track, such as pay periods, gross and net pay, deductions, and paid time off balances. We’ll compare using different types of checks for payroll.
|Customizable with Business Name|
|Able to Write Information Manually|
|Can Print from Computer Software|
|Form-Fed Options Available|
|Print Layout on Top, Middle, or Bottom|
|Room for Employee Pay Stub Details|
Payroll Checks for Payroll
Payroll checks are designed specifically for paying employees. They have a check-portion on the paper that includes the payee, net amount, date and signature, much like a business check. But they contain additional features that neither a personal check nor business check have, like room for hours, earnings and deductions.
They come in many formats, for instance with the check stub at the top, bottom or middle of the paper. In addition, they should be used with a business payroll account which is separate from the business account used for business receipts (income) and expenses.
Payroll checks also come in a manual format where you can write the information in, as well as printable formats used by most payroll software.
Business Checks for Payroll
Business checks are check stock used by software like QuickBooks. You can’t print on plain paper as it lacks the security features required by a bank. Similar to personal checks, business checks typically don’t have the features of a payroll check, such as extra space for adding additional employee information.
In addition, commingling your business checking account with your payroll account could cause problems in case of a business or tax audit, not to mention making it difficult to keep track of your payroll costs.
Personal Checks for Payroll
Personal checks are checks provided by your bank or a check vendor, and lack the space to record employee earnings, deductions and net pay. In other words, they lack a pay stub.
In addition, a personal check is typically drawn on your personal bank account which shouldn’t be used to pay business expenses such as wages. Why? Because if you’re audited, it may be difficult to separate which payments were for business rather than personal use. So save yourself the trouble and create one account for business and one for personal.
9 Features of a Payroll Check
When you buy payroll checks you’ll want to consider several features, like whether they’re preprinted with your company name and custom logo. You’ll consider security features, layout and colors, and even options for example to add comments like, “congratulations on your two-year employment anniversary!” Here are nine features to look for:
Custom or Blank: You can purchase blank payroll check paper stock or customize it with options like your business logo and branding. On blank check paper stock, you’ll use your computer software or a template to print your company name and all information. Whereas on the custom payroll paper, you need print only what’s different for each check, such as the employee name, payment amount, etc.
Pay Stub: In most cases, you’ll want payroll check paper that has a pay stub option included so that your employees’ pay stubs show all sources of income and deductions for the pay period. An example is shown below. A paystub is not required by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) (federal labor law) and requirements vary by state. Timekeeping software vendor Fingercheck has identified states that require paystubs be given to employees.
Security: To minimize the risk that your paychecks could be compromised, you may want to chose paycheck paper stock that has security features like a watermark, a marbled background, or heat sensitive fibers. The more expensive payroll check paper has one or more of these — some vendors like Amazon even provide paper stock that has a hologram.
Color: Typical colors for payroll check stock are pastels like soft green, pale blue, or yellow. However, if you want custom colors you may need to order from a vendor like Print Globe that offers over 20 colors. If you want a custom background or special fonts, consider ordering custom payroll checks from a vendor like Deluxe that can add these details.
Comments: It’s nice to have a spot on the payroll check paper to include notes and comments. You could thank someone for their work, provide information about a bonus, or remind employees of an upcoming holiday. ADP payroll software has this feature already built in, and you can also use it to hand write notes of appreciation.
Signature: Your payroll check will need to be signed, either electronically, by hand, or by stamp. Some vendors like Deluxe allow you to add additional features to your check, like a second line for a signature, if that’s what your business needs.
Layout: Payroll check paper stock provides several options for the location of the check itself. For instance the check can be at the top, middle or bottom of the paper, with the paystub located above or below the payroll check itself. Often this will be dictated by your payroll software, or configurable within the print option. An example of a check on the bottom option is shown below with sample information on year-to-date (YTD) deductions so you can see where specific information should go.
Perforation: Payroll check stock can come perforated so that employees can easily tear off the check and keep the check stub. However, if you direct deposit the funds, and the only reason you use the check stock is to give or send the employees a record of their earnings, then no perforation is needed. In fact, plain white paper is fine for a pay stub.
Self-mailing: Some paper stock is scored or lined so that you can fold the payroll check in thirds, and mail it. You can address the recipient on the back, either with your printer or by hand. When it’s folded and stamped, the payroll check and pay stub are inside.
Payroll Check Examples
Here are a few examples to help you consider the kind of payroll check paper you might want to buy. These images are from vendor websites; each vendor is listed below the image. You’ll notice that the kind of checks you order depend on the printer, your software, and whether or not you need an actual check, or simply a payslip such as used when you use direct deposit (where the check info is voided).
Want to let your employees manage their payroll information online? ADP gives your employees access to their payroll information online or via a mobile app so they can print payroll reports and manage time and benefits on their own. Click here for a free quote.
The Bottom Line
When purchasing payroll checks, you have to know what’s required, so that it matches your software and printer, as well as fits your employer brand. Ask yourself, do you want plain green check stock that communicates “Here’s your check” or do you want custom branded paper stock with room for comments, that communicates, “We value you”? The choices you make determine where you buy payroll checks, and how much you pay.
Better yet, work with an HR, benefits, and payroll company like ADP so you can process payroll online, calculate and file payroll taxes, and pay employees via direct deposit or printed paychecks. Click here for a free quote.