Years ago the only way to pay for something was with a check or a credit card. The idea of debit cards didn't even exist and people were accustomed to paying for things with checks. Paying with checks offered some cushion for people, though, because checks usually took a few days to clear one's checking account.
That means if payday is on Friday and you buy groceries on Wednesday with a check you will most likely have the funds in your account when the check clears. Today, that is not an option. Even if you use a check it is processed digitally so that it actually becomes a debit payment.
So, you must have funds in your bank account when you pay for something with a check or the check will not be honored. This is important for you to remember because many people are accustomed to "floating" checks a day or two and now that is no longer an option. So, the best policy is to only write a check when you have funds in your checking account to cover it.
Of course, most companies around the world are happy if you don't try to pay with a check and many more are flat out refusing them. Some companies that don't have the digital technology don't accept checks because they don't want the hassle of returned checks, NSF fees, and the like.
This makes complete sense and is the reason why so many people no longer use checks. Companies that receive your payment from a debit or credit card know they have been paid at the time of the transaction. There is no hassle collecting the funds, tracking you down, or even hiring a lawyer to collect the funds should the check not be able to be cashed.
It has become really difficult for some folks to make the transition from paying with a check to paying with a debit card. In fact, some older people flat out refuse to use a debit card regardless of how easy a debit card could make their life.
Most retailers prefer debit cards because they are fast, easy, and there is no need for correct change. The debit cards only approve purchases when there are funds in the individual's account so there is no worry of a bounced payment.
As time goes on it will become even more difficult to use checks. Things are even changing for companies making payroll. Some no longer write checks to their employees but rather give them a debit card.
It is not a bank account, but rather like a pre-paid visa debit card with their paycheck on it. They can use it to withdraw money, make purchases, and the like. This has become wildly popular and will probably continue to do so.
Direct deposit is also very popular with employers and the money goes straight to your bank account. That means you don't have to go to the bank to make a deposit and your funds are available sooner! The world of banking is changing and may say it is changing for the better.