Cheque guarantee cards' last day of operation

The banks say the cards are being scrapped to prevent confusion and fraud

The final operating day of cheque guarantee cards, which ensure some cheques are honoured, is taking place.

People will still be able to write cheques for at least another seven years, but the specific guarantee for those who accept cheques will end.

The guarantee, denoted by a Shakespeare hologram on a card, meant a cheque was honoured by a bank, even if sufficient funds were not in an account.

This had usually been limited to payments of £50 or £100.

Many bank cards now only have a debit function, without the hologram of William Shakespeare on the back.

The guarantee only worked if the person paying handed over the cheque in person, and the card number had to be written on the back by the person receiving it.

This meant it tended to be used by tradesmen, such as plumbers, who charged small amounts and wanted to make sure they were paid.

Last year, at least 95 million were written with a guarantee number on the back, although that was only about 7% of the total number of cheques.

People who need to use cheques are being advised to continue doing so.

"You can still write and use cheques in the same way that you always have done - just not guaranteed by a card," said Sandra Quinn of the Payments Council.

But Michelle Mitchell, charity director at Age UK, said: "The demise of the cheque guarantee card means that there will be even fewer places accepting cheques and older people are more likely to revert to cash which brings its own problems."

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