Debit cards, online banking and banking apps may seem to have replaced paper checks. However, checks are still a very viable and necessary part of your personal finances. From writing checks to pay for something, to voiding a check for various uses, here is everything you need to know.
What To Know
In the not-so-distant past checks were the primary way of exchanging funds. The first thing to know about checks is what all the numbers mean – the check number, routing number and account number. These numbers are often used for recurring deposits like a paycheck, or automatic withdrawals for paying bills. If you’re setting up direct deposit with your employer, you’ll need these numbers.
If you’re opening a new account, make sure you order checks to have on hand. It is important to store your personal checks in a secure spot, maybe a lock box or drawer where you keep important documents. This way, your checks are not accessible to others who could use them to steal your money or your identity.
How to Write a Check
If you haven’t written a check in a while (or ever), check out these tips to make it easy!
In the upper right corner is a line for the date. Fill in the date of the day you are writing the check: month, day, year.
- Pay to the order of
This could be an individual’s name, or the name of a business. Use their first and last name or actual business name.
- Amount in numerical form
Just to the right of the payee line is a box where you will write the amount of the check in numerals. For example: “$100.50.”
- Amount in words
On the line below the payee, spell out the amount in words. If you are including cents in your amount, write the amount of cents over 100. For example, one-hundred dollars and 50/100. Be sure to draw a line to the end so that the recipient can’t add an additional amount.
On the lower left is the memo line which is optional. This is for your records, make yourself a note so you know why you wrote the check – for example, “rent”.
On the lower right is the place for your signature. It should be consistent with your signature in other places so they will match if checked at a later date. A check without a signature is not valid.
What is a voided check?
A voided check is a check that cannot be used for financial purposes to pay for anything. You might be asked to void a check, and turn it in with some paperwork to get direct deposit started. Direct deposit allows your paycheck to go directly into your account. If you made a mistake when filling out a check, you might need to void that check.
How to void a check:
To void a check, simply write the word “VOID” over the area where you would normally fill in all the information. Be careful not to write over those important bank numbers at the bottom of the check.
Receiving a check
If a check has been written to you, you might be wondering how to get it into your bank account or cash it. There are several options, but the first step is to endorse the check. To endorse a check, flip it over and sign your name at the top on the short side of the check.
Remember, since you endorsed the check, anyone who gets access to the check can deposit or cash it. You can take this check to a bank teller, to an ATM machine, or use mobile check deposit if your bank offers that functionality. You will need to let the bank know which account to deposit the funds or if you prefer cash.
Other important details about check writing
If you make a minor mistake while writing a check, simply draw a line through it and continue. If it can’t be easily fixed, void the check, and write a new one.
- Naming yourself as the payee
You can name yourself on the check and use it to move money from one bank account to another.
Postdating a check means you put a future date on the date line. This is helpful if you want to mail a check now, that you don’t want cashed for a few days because you may not yet have the funds in your account. It is okay to postdate a check, just know the recipient can’t deposit it until the date written on the check.
- Track your checks
It’s important to keep track of the checks you write. You may have received a check register that came with your checks, or track electronically with your bank’s online banking or mobile app. This way you will know where your money went, when, and for what purpose – all of which can help you stay on budget and spend wisely.