Ever found yourself sifting through bank statements, trying to remember details of a check written weeks ago? Or perhaps you've made a purchase by check and later needed to provide proof of payment. Both scenarios can be frustrating, yet duplicate checks offer a simple solution.

Duplicate checks provide an instant record of each check you write. This can be especially helpful if you frequently pay by check and need detailed records with minimal effort.

Understanding the potential pros and cons of duplicate checks can help you decide whether they are right for you. Here's what you need to know.

What Are Duplicate Checks?

A duplicate check is an exact copy of a standard check. They typically are made with a special checkbook with thin piece of carbon paper between the original check and the check copy.

When you write a check, the pressure from the pen transfers the information onto the carbon paper, which creates an identical copy on the duplicate check beneath. This creates a duplicate copy with all the check details, including the check number, date, payee, amount, and your signature.

The duplicate check remains in your checkbook for your records, while the original check is given to the payee. Since both the original and the duplicate have the same check number, it’s an easy way to track and reconcile check transactions. This can eliminate the need to write down the details in a separate section of your checkbook, also known as a check register.

Single Vs. Duplicate Checks

If you’re trying to decide between single vs. duplicate checks, it’s helpful to understand the differences and some important pros and cons. Consider these factors. 

Single Checks

Single checks are individual checks commonly used for payments and transactions. They are a simple, straightforward way to handle check-based transactions without any additional features.


  • Simplicity: Single checks are easy to use and are the format with which most people are familiar
  • Cost-Effective: Generally, single checks are less expensive than duplicate checks
  • Less Bulky: Single checks take up less space in your checkbook, making them more convenient to carry around

Potential Drawbacks:

  • Manual Record-Keeping: Since there is no copy of any checks written, you’ll need to manually record the details of each check for tracking and reconciliation purposes. This can be time-consuming and leaves room for error
  • Risk of Forgetting Transactions: Without an automatic record, you might forget to note a transaction, leading to potential discrepancies in your account

Duplicate Checks

Duplicate checks are often used by business owners and others who frequently write checks and want to keep meticulous records. They offer an efficient way to maintain records. In turn, this can be helpful for managing your budget, tracking tax-deductible spending, or disputing a transaction.


  • Automatic Record-Keeping: Duplicate checks automatically create a copy of each transaction, simplifying record-keeping and tracking
  • Ease of Reconciliation: Reconciling your bank statements is easier since you have an exact copy of every check written
  • Fraud Detection: Check copies can be useful for detecting and resolving discrepancies or fraud

Potential Drawbacks:

  • Higher Cost: Duplicate checks are typically more expensive than single checks due to additional materials used to create the checkbook
  • Bulk: Duplicate checks can make your checkbook bulkier and less convenient to carry
  • Privacy Concerns: Having duplicate information can be risky if your checkbook is lost or stolen and can also create privacy issues

Ultimately, the question of whether to use single or double checks depends on both how many checks you write, and your record-keeping needs.

If you only use checks sporadically and don’t mind recording transactions in your check register, then duplicate checks may not be right for you.

However, if you write checks frequently and need to keep precise records, consider taking advantage of this convenient financial tool.

How To Use Duplicate Checks

When used correctly, duplicate checks can make managing finances easier and more organized. Here are some tips to help you maximize the benefits and minimize potential drawbacks.

Securely Store and Protect Your Checks

To keep your financial information safe, store your duplicate checks in a secure place. A lockable, fireproof file cabinet or safe can protect against theft and unauthorized access. Always be mindful of who has access to your checks, given how they contain sensitive information.

Ensure Clarity and Accuracy

When writing checks, press firmly to ensure all details are clearly and accurately transferred to the duplicate copy. This is particularly important for the payee’s name, the amount, and your signature. Also, be sure to write legibly, keep your handwriting as consistent as possible and add notes to the memo line to help you remember what the check was for. Remember a clear and legible duplicate is necessary for accurate record-keeping and can prove critical if you need to dispute a transaction.

Regularly Review Your Duplicate Checks

Make a habit of reviewing your duplicate checks periodically. This can help you keep track of your spending, spot any unusual transactions, and ensure all checks have been processed correctly. Regular reviews can also help with budgeting and spotting financial trends or habits you may want to change.

Streamline Your Finances With Duplicate Checks

Whether you’re managing household expenses, tracking business transactions, or looking for a way to streamline your financial record keeping, duplicate checks may be the solution you’re looking for. By providing a direct, physical record of each transaction, they offer added clarity and control over your financial activities.

This simple, straightforward approach can help you stay organized and informed about your spending. 

In addition to duplicate checks, PNC Bank offers a range of banking solutions designed to meet your needs. Explore our checking account options now, and don’t hesitate to contact our team for help deciding which features may be best suited to your needs.