How to Write a Check

First got here debit playing cards you could possibly swipe like a bank card. Then got here cash-transferring companies like PayPal and Venmo. That led to the close to extinction of the paper test.

But it’s nonetheless essential to know methods to write a test. Some firms, people, and organizations nonetheless favor them. For instance, many property house owners nonetheless ask for lease checks due to the paper path they depart and the charges related to accepting credit score and debit playing cards. 

Fortunately, writing a test is easy when you perceive the way it works. 

How to Write a Check

Writing a test is so simple as following simple steps. You can do them in any order you want as long as all of the required info is there. But most individuals transfer from prime to backside when filling within the required blanks. 

1. Write the Date

Every test wants a date. Without one, the financial institution received’t settle for it. Write immediately’s date on the date line on the highest right-hand nook of the test. You can use any format you want for the date as long as it’s universally acknowledged within the nation you’re in. For instance, within the United States, you possibly can write September 30, 2021; Sept. 30, 2021; or 9/30/2021. 

It’s greatest to keep away from date codecs used primarily in different international locations, particularly when you’re utilizing the slashes. For instance, in Britain, they swap the month and date order, which may result in confusion within the U.S.

2. Write the Recipient’s Name

Write the recipient’s authorized first and final title on the road after the phrases “Pay to the Order of” — no nicknames or abbreviations. 

If you’re writing a test to a number of events, separate them by an “and” if each events have to be current to money the test or an “or” if just one social gathering have to be current to money the test. Never use different characters, like a slash or sprint, because the financial institution teller might misread its which means. 

If writing the test to an organization, write the corporate’s most popular title on this line (don’t embrace the non-public names of workers until they ask you to). 

3. Add the Dollar Amount

In the greenback quantity field, write the quantity of the test numerically. For instance, “$5.75.” Always write the primary quantity as near the left fringe of the field as potential and fill as a lot of the field as potential to forestall the payee from altering the test quantity. You can draw a straight or squiggly line after the final numeral to the tip of the field if it’s essential to.

4. Spell Out the Dollar Amount

Spell out the greenback quantity textually with the cents expressed as a fraction on the greenback quantity line. For instance, on a test for $150.50, you’d write, “One-hundred fifty and 50/100.” Try to fill all the line along with your quantity and fill any open area with a straight or squiggly line. 

5. Add Any Notes

Write any notes associated to the test, together with the service date, what you wrote the test for, or an account quantity on the memo line, which can even be labeled “Note” or “For.” It’s OK to depart this part clean, but it surely’s greatest so as to add one thing to jog your reminiscence later, let the cashing entity know what the fee applies to, or defend your self from claims of nonpayment. 

For instance, the service date could also be appropriate for a recurring service you pay periodically, like a month-to-month landscaping service. That lets you simply observe what interval that test was for in case there’s a dispute over your account being behind on funds. 

And writing the account variety of the service you’re paying, comparable to your cable service or electrical energy account quantity, lets the corporate know what account to use the fee to if the test will get separated from the fee stub. 

Writing what the test was for is one other paper path that lets you observe what you bought. This method, if the individual you paid claimed the test was for a distinct merchandise, you’ve got proof the test was for the right merchandise. 

6. Sign the Check

It’s important to know methods to signal a test correctly. Sign your full title on the test’s signature line. Use the identical signature and the precise spelling of your title because the financial institution has on document. 

For instance, in case your checking account is beneath the title “John M. Hancock,” it’s essential to signal the test “John M. Hancock.” 

How to Enter the Check in Your Register

After finishing the test, instantly enter the test particulars into your test register for monitoring and balancing functions. The test register is the spreadsheet-like booklet that comes along with your checks. It contains all the identical columns as your test with rows for coming into particular person test knowledge. 

Check Filled Register Example

Enter the Check Number

In the primary clean row, enter the test quantity from the test you simply wrote into the column labeled “Check Number” or simply “No.” 

Enter the Date

Enter the date you wrote the test within the date column. The column could be very small, so it’s greatest to make use of numerals with a slash between them, comparable to 9/30, omitting the 12 months.

Enter the Check Description

The area to the best of the test quantity and date columns is the longer description column. Write who you wrote the test to on this area. 

Add the Check Amount

To the best of your description is a column labeled “Payment” or “Amount.” Write the greenback quantity of the test numerically. When the test clears your checking account, place a checkmark within the small field subsequent to the fee quantity.  

Balance the Book

The far-right column is the steadiness space. Subtract the test quantity out of your checking account’s steadiness and write that quantity on this area. That quantity is your new account steadiness. For instance, in case your checking account steadiness was $500 and also you wrote a $250 test, you’d write “$250” on this area.

Enter Any Notes

Some test registers even have a memo line. If so, use it to document any essential details about the test, comparable to what month of service that test paid or the account quantity for the service. For instance, you may write “September electricity payment, account #903207204.”

How to Read a Check

Checks have a number of preprinted sections a test author should pay attention to. Understanding what info they comprise will be useful when attempting to supply account info for invoice fee or direct deposit. 

Account Holder’s Name and Address

On the top-left nook of the test is a bit that accommodates the account holder’s title and deal with. 

Some folks have the test printing firm add their cellphone quantity, date of beginning, or driver’s license quantity as a result of many retailers ask for that info to substantiate your identification. That’s not a good suggestion, because it makes retailers much less more likely to test that it’s actually you.

Check Number

On the top-right nook of the test is a brief collection of numbers, sometimes 4 digits. That’s the test quantity, which the test author can use to trace the test if there is a matter. 

Check numbers not often begin at primary. Instead, once you get a brand new checking account with a brand new checkbook, the test numbers normally start within the lots of or hundreds. 

You can even discover the test quantity on the backside of the test, both between the routing and account numbers or to the best of the account quantity. 

Routing Number

There’s a collection of computer-generated numbers beneath the memo line. Stuffed between two symbols and subsequent to the test quantity and account quantity is the nine-digit American Banking Association routing quantity. 

Computerized test readers use the routing quantity to determine the test’s origin financial institution. Each financial institution’s routing quantity is exclusive, although massive nationwide or multinational banks like Wells Fargo might have multiple.

Account Number

The checking account quantity is the set of computer-generated numbers to the best of the routing quantity. A computerized test reader combines these numbers with the routing quantity to know what account inside a particular financial institution the test is from. 

Remember, the quick quantity string subsequent to the account quantity is the test quantity. It isn’t a part of the account quantity. 

Check Security

When writing a test, it’s essential to take steps to make sure a fraudster can’t get ahold of the test and entry cash in your checking account. These suggestions will help you keep away from this probably bank-draining test fraud. 

Use Permanent Ink

Check scammers can use many methods to steal your money, and one of many oldest methods is check-washing. It’s a course of by which criminals intercept checks and chemically take away all the knowledge aside from your signature.

If you employ a pencil or erasable ink, the felony’s job is even simpler and requires simply an eraser. 

With simply your signature remaining, the felony has a clean test they will write to themself and take cash out of your checking account. 

Always use everlasting blue or black gel-based ink when filling out a test. Gel-based ink traps the colour within the paper, making chemical check-washing practically not possible. Ballpoint pens and markers wash away extra simply.

Protect Your Routing and Account Numbers

If a felony will get their palms in your routing quantity alone, there’s not a lot they will do with it. But in the event that they get your routing quantity and account quantity, they could as nicely have your debit card and PIN. 

Scammers can simply transfer money out and in of your checking account if they’ve your routing quantity and account quantity. What’s worse is these numbers are printed on the underside of each single test, so it’s essential to use care when working with checks.

These suggestions will enable you preserve these essential numbers protected. 

Safe Storage

Always retailer your checkbook in a safe space the place nobody can get to it, comparable to in a locked desk drawer or protected. If it’s essential to carry it with you, place it in your entrance pocket or a safe pocket inside your bag. 

Send It Securely

It’s not unusual in immediately’s digital world to ship your routing and account numbers to employers, banks, and different monetary establishments via electronic mail or messenger for direct deposit and different digital transactions. While there’s no foolproof method to take action, it’s very important you are taking as a lot care as potential through the use of companies with end-to-end encryption. 

If you’re messaging these numbers, it’s greatest to make use of safe apps like WhatsApp or Viber. These messaging companies have the encryption essential to forestall knowledge theft. 

If you’re emailing the numbers, use an encryption service to guard your knowledge. If you select to skip outdoors encryption companies, some electronic mail companies have sturdy built-in encryption, comparable to Gmail. But encryption isn’t foolproof, so preserve a watch out for sudden transactions in your account. 

If encrypted electronic mail is not possible, it can save you the doc as a PDF and encrypt the file or ship it as a password-protected file solely the recipient has the password for. 

Windows customers can use AxCrypt, the PCMag 2021 editors’ selection for encryption, whereas Mac customers can use the system’s built-in Preview app to encrypt PDF information.

If the corporate has a bodily workplace close by, it’s all the time most secure to ship these account numbers by hand. Ask if that’s an choice earlier than sending them electronically. You can even go old-school and fax or mail the doc to the group. 

Entering Bank Account Numbers Online

It’s additionally widespread to enter your routing and account numbers on-line when shopping for items or companies, however use care when doing so. First, confirm the Wi-Fi you’re on is safe. Never transmit this knowledge via an open Wi-Fi community, like at a espresso store or airport. 

Also, confirm the location you’re coming into the knowledge on is safe by searching for “https” or your browser’s closed padlock at the start of the URL. If you’re on an “http” website or the padlock is pink or opened, this web site isn’t safe, and you shouldn’t enter your banking info. 

Voiding a Check

If you make a mistake when writing the test or must cancel the test for every other cause, void it in a fashion that stops anybody from utilizing it.

There are two generally accepted methods to void a test: 

  • Write a big “VOID” in blue or black gel ink throughout the entrance of all the test. 
  • Write “VOID” in blue or black gel ink on the date line, payee line, greenback quantity field, greenback quantity line, and signature line.  

Then, you possibly can safely destroy the test by operating it via a paper shredder or burning it. 

Exclude Sensitive Information

The memo line lets you write notes or different info that may tie your test to a particular account inside an organization. 

It’s OK to put in writing your account quantity with that service, however keep away from any private info like your Social Security quantity or cellphone quantity. It could also be tempting if the corporate you’re paying requires that info, however it might probably show troublesome if a felony intercepts the test. 

Check Writing Frequently Asked Questions

Once the fundamentals of writing checks and dealing with them securely, you’re nonetheless sure to have some check-related questions come up occasionally. These are the most typical.

Can I Write a Check for a Later Date?

If you need the recipient to keep away from cashing or depositing the test till a particular date, you possibly can write a later date on the date line. It’s referred to as “postdating” the test. Check your native legal guidelines regarding postdated checks, as some states might have particular tips or might forbid it outright. 

Also, a test turns into authorized tender the second you signal it, and a financial institution might withdraw the funds out of your account earlier than the date you placed on the test. A financial institution isn’t required to honor your postdate. So solely use postdated checks with folks and belief. And by no means ship them to a enterprise, which received’t look earlier than they course of the test.

How Do I Fix a Mistake on a Check?

If you make a small mistake, comparable to misspelling the recipient’s title, you possibly can repair it by crossing out the error and rewriting what you meant proper after it, then initialing subsequent to the error to point you approve the change. If the error is just too important, comparable to writing the incorrect quantity, it’s greatest to void the test altogether and begin contemporary. 

Can I Use a Check to Get Cash?

If you’re writing the test to money it on the financial institution, you possibly can write “Cash” on the payee line. That’s referred to as “writing a check to cash.” 

You may give a money test to a different social gathering, however some banks have strict insurance policies in opposition to cashing these checks. If you lose the test or somebody steals it, anybody can money it. 

If your financial institution takes checks written to money, you should use them in emergencies, however in any other case, use your ATM card. 

Can I Write a Check to Myself?

There’s a safer option to transfer cash between accounts or get money for your self in a pinch. Just write the test with your individual title on the payee line. You can both money the test or deposit it into your account. 

This choice is just like writing a test to money. But it’s safer as a result of solely you possibly can deposit or money the test. 

Note that although you made the take a look at to your self, it’s essential to nonetheless comply with the financial institution’s guidelines for cashing it, comparable to correct identification. 

Why Did the Store Hand Me Back My Check After Scanning It?

The firm scanned your test and used the knowledge to create an digital fee. It not wants the test, so it returns the test to you to your information. 

Final Word

Writing checks could also be a dying fee methodology, but it surely’s removed from extinct — simply endangered. Many organizations and people nonetheless favor checks as a result of they’re usually freed from the processing charges related to playing cards. Checks additionally present a clear paper path from you to the recipient and are freed from the hazards concerned in coming into debit and bank card info on-line. 

So when you might solely write a dozen or so checks per 12 months, it’s nonetheless a course of it is best to know methods to do securely. 

If you’re overwhelmed with monitoring checks, you possibly can streamline by ordering a checkbook with duplicate checks. Under each test is carbon switch paper that transfers all the knowledge from the test you simply wrote to a replica test beneath. That means when you overlook to document a test, you possibly can all the time discover the knowledge on the duplicate.