As much as we wish technology could do everything for us, there are times that we’ll all most likely have to write a check or two. It might be to pay some bills, rent, or anything else. Regardless of the reason, here’s how to write a check.
This article will work for both beginners that have never written a check, or as a refresher on how to do it properly. Nothing worse than your check not going through because you filled out the wrong spot, causing delays and late fees! Yuck!
How to write a check
To start us off, I’ll first show you what a standard check looks like. This will give you a good idea of what to expect and what all the sections of a check mean.
99% of checks look like this, except for a few differences like color and some of the wording. Regardless, this guide will apply to the majority of checks out there, and how to fill them out properly.
1. Check written date
Looking at the diagram, the date section represents when the check was filled in. Most checks will have this date section on the top write of the check.
In 99% of the time, you will write the date that you are signing the check. Remember that the check will be valid for 180 days from that date you fill in. Some checks might be only valid for 90 days from when you date it.
You write the date you are filling out the check. Checks are usually only valid for 180 days from the date you put here unless otherwise specified on the check.
On this line, this is where you write the name of the person or organization that you want to pay. Sometimes the recipient is also know as the Payee, depending on your check.
Also make sure you don’t misspell the name here because that might also void that check.
The recipient is “who you are writing this check to.” It can be the name of a person (Bob Jefferson) or the name of an organization (Summit Apartments LLC). Just make sure to make it legible and spelled correctly.
3. Amount (Numeric)
Inside the small box on the top right of your check is the Amount section. This is where you write out the payment amount in dollar amounts. For example, you can write $850.00. Remember to include the Cents in that dollar amount.
Sometimes people run out of space when writing down large amounts so make sure you start right up against the left side of that box as much as possible.
Don’t include the Dollar Sign $ since that is already written on there, and don’t forget to put the cents in your amount. Even if you don’t have any cents, just write .00
4. Amount (Words)
This part is where most get confused, but its super simple. You simply write out the payment amount in words. So for example, if your payment is $805.00 you write EIGHT HUNDRED AND FIVE —————–
To better protect yourself against fraud, always use Capital Letters. These are harder to alter and better protect your check from alterations.
Remember to use capital letters so that your check is harder to alter. For additional security, you can put a dash across the rest of the empty space if your words don’t take up the entire line.
On the bottom right of the check, that’s where you will sign! Unlike those payment terminals in a store where you can put any random signature you like, checks are a little different.
They are more strict when it comes to signatures, so make sure its as close to your real one as you can. It doesn’t have to be perfect, but something to keep in mind.
Your signature will only go on the Signature Line. Make sure to make this signature close to the real thing as some banks verify the authenticity of your signature so see if it matches what’s on file (or at least close to)
The last thing is the Memo line. You don’t have to write anything on there and doesn’t affect how your check is processed. This might be used as a personal note for yourself or for who you’re writing the check for.
For example, if you’re paying your mortgage and want to make it easier for your lender to process your check, you might add your loan number on the memo line for them.
The memo line is completely optional and you can leave it blank.. In fact, to not confuse yourself, just leave it blank. Doesn’t affect anything, but it’s there for you to use.
Some important things to note
Now that we’ve gone through the process of writing a check, this process will account for 99% of checks out there. Some checks might be a little different in color and font, but majority of them will look very similar.
Here are some important things to remember when it comes to writing your check:
1. Do not sign the back
This one confused me a lot when writing checks! When you turn over a personal check, there might be a line that says Endorse Here or something like that. Don’t sign that part.
The person you are writing the check to is the one that endorses the check, not you. So, if you’re ever tempted to sign the back of your check, don’t. That line is not meant for you buddy 🙂
2. Never sign a blank check
This is a BIG no no! Never sign and give away a blank check, unless if you have an unlimited bank account. A signed blank check gives fraudsters the ability to write themselves a check and cash it in, especially if it’s signed.
So make sure you keep your checkbook safe, since it also contains your account number and routing numbers.
3. Use cashiers checks if you can
Checks aren’t necessarily risky, but because what you fill in is with a pen, alterations are still possible. This puts you at some risk if that check lands in the wrong hands and they modify the check a little. Opt to use Cashiers Checks instead if possible.
To be even safer, use electronic methods instead. In this day and age, the majority of people and institutions accept electronic payments. This is definitely the safest and most secure method of payment.
4. Knowingly writing a bad check is illegal
Lastly, here’s something you might not have known. If you willingly write a bad check that will bounce, this is actually an act of fraud. According to the law, writing bad checks is a crime! Yikes!
If you know you don’t have the money in your bank account, do not write out that check. This can have serious repercussions, a huge effect on your credit, fines, and even jail time! Of course, the severity varies for each state, but something to always remember!
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