This step-by-step guide will give you all the details you need to know to fill out or void a check.
Step-by-Step Guide to Writing a Check
Writing a check correctly is important. If a check is not filled out correctly, it can leave you with a defaulted payment.
In the age of mobile payments, it’s often easy to transfer money digitally. But there are still times and locations where only cash or checks are acceptable payment methods. Wondering how to write a check? Has it just been a while since you’ve used your checkbook? Keep these steps in mind when filling out a check to ensure the recipient can cash it.
1. Write the date.
In the top right-hand corner of the check, you will need to fill out today’s date. The correct date is important, banks aren’t required to accept checks that are more than six months old. That’s right: there’s a set of laws called the Uniform Commercial Code (UCC) that regulates such details in the US.
Sometimes, you may need to postdate a check. Just keep in mind that postdating means your check will not be cashable before the date listed on the check.
Be sure to write the month, day, and year correctly. The payee may not be able to cash the check if the date is inaccurate or illegible. In that case, your financial institution will return the check to you.
2. Include the payee.
On the first line, you’ll see the words “Pay to the order of.” This is the line where you should clearly fill in the name of the person or business who will cash the check.
The recipient’s name must be on the check for them to deposit the funds into their bank account. Be sure to include their full name. Write clearly, so the recipient can successfully deposit the funds.
3. Fill in the numerical amount.
You’ll see a small box on the right-hand side of the check. In this space, you will fill in your total payment. Some checks include a dollar sign and some do not. You don’t have to put one in.
Simply fill in the amount of the check in numbers. Be sure to include the decimal point in the right spot, so there are no errors in the withdrawal process.
4. Write the numerical amount in letters.
Just beneath the payee line is a blank line with the word “dollars” to the right of it. On this line, fill out the dollar amount of the check in words.
For example, if your check is in the amount of $142.57, the numerical amount on the line should read “one hundred forty-two and 57/100.” If the dollar amount is even, you should still include “0/100” to clarify that there are no cents that were mistakenly omitted.
To the right of this line, you may also see a number 100 with a line above it. If your check has this option, you may include the number of cents here instead of with the dollar amount. You can simply enter “00” for an even dollar amount here as well.
4. Clearly sign the check.
On the bottom right-hand corner, you’ll notice a blank line. You’ll have to clearly and legibly sign the check.
The check cannot be cashed unless there is a valid signature of the primary account holder on that line. A checking account may have more than one signing authority.
5. Jot down notes on the memo line.
Filling out the memo line on the bottom left-hand side of the check is optional unless the payee has requested it. This field can help the recipient keep track of incoming payments. It’s also useful to you for record keeping purposes.
Use the memo line to record what the check is for.
6. Keep track of your checks.
Once you have completed a check, it’s a good idea to record the transaction in your check register if you don’t have another method of tracking expenses. At the back of your checkbook, you’ll see a register where you can list what each outgoing check is for. You can write the check number, the check amount, the payee, and the date of the check. This helps when budgeting your personal finances and keeping track of outgoing payments.
Online banking can also help you track your checks. Many banking apps will allow you to see a scanned image of your checks once they’re cashed. You’ll see these in your account activity.
How to Void a Check—and Why
You may sometimes need to void a check. What is a voided check? It’s simply a check that you’ve filled out and then canceled before it can be cashed.
Consider this common scenario. You start a new job that requires you to receive direct deposit for your payments. To ensure your employer has the correct account number, they may ask for a voided check. You may also submit a voided check if you want to set up recurring electronic payments with a vendor or other employer.
If you make a mistake when filling out a check, void it. It is best to void or destroy a check with a mistake on it.
To create a voided check, cross out the signature line, the dateline, and the small box where the check amount usually goes. Then write “VOID” in capital letters across the check to make the check unusable, meaning no one can manipulate it or cash it.
By voiding the check, you protect yourself from fraud. Once you have successfully voided the check, be sure to make a note of it in your check register, so you can keep track.
Do not provide your employer, or anyone else, with a blank check. Anyone can fill a blank check out and wrongfully cash it.
How to Order Checks
You can order checks associated with your checking account directly through your bank. You may do so in person via a teller at your local branch, or you can apply for your checkbooks online.
In most cases, your banking institution will deduct from your checking account the cost of your checkbooks. Many banks will work with a third-party check supplier. You may order checks from the supplier directly or through your own financial institution. Your checkbook will also include an information sheet with the contact info you need to reorder again in the future.
Remitly makes international money transfers faster, easier, more transparent, and more affordable. Our reliable and easy-to-use mobile app is trusted by over 5 million people around the world.