How to Fill Out a Check, Step-by-Step
While many people have moved to use credit and debit cards for payment, about 20 percent of people still use checks.
Whether you fall into that group or not, you should know how to fill out a check. That way, you can make sure the information is correct before sending the check or depositing it at a bank.
Keep reading to learn more about how to write a check.
Verify Your Name
Before you start to write a check, you should verify it's the right checkbook. If you have checks for multiple accounts, you need to make sure you write the check off an account with enough money.
You can check this by looking at the name and address in the top left hand corner. If you know your account number, you can also look at the black line of numbers at the bottom of the check.
The bottom line should display your account number and the check number. It will also show the routing number for your specific bank.
If you only have one checkbook, you don't have to do this. But it's still smart to make sure the check is yours and not your partner's or roommates.
Fill Out the Date
Next, write in the date for the check. You can use numbers for the month, day and year, or you can write out the month's name.
However, you need to make sure the date is correct. Some banks won't process checks before the date written on the check, so if you write a check for the next week, the person you have to pay may need to wait.
On the other hand, banks may not process checks that are more than six months old. These are called stale-dated checks, so you may need to write a new check.
This can be a common problem near the beginning of the year. If you aren't used to writing the new date, you may accidentally write a check that's a year old.
Write the Payee's Info
The next step in how to fill out a check is to write in the name of who the check is for. You can write a check for an individual, multiple people, or a business. Make sure you spell the payee's name correctly. If you don't they may have a hard time cashing it at their bank, and they may ask you to write a new check.
When writing a check to multiple people, you have a couple of options. You can write the check to John AND Jane, or you can write it to John OR Jane. It may seem small, but that can make a huge difference.
Checks made out with "and" have to go into an account with both people. But checks made out with "or" can go to one person or the other.
You should also consider a woman's name after she gets married. Ask if she still has her maiden name so that you can write the check with the correct name.
Fill Out the Written Line
The written line, or legal line, is the line on the check where you write the amount in words. An example of this would be One-hundred and 00/100.
You should be careful when writing this line because it is the legal amount of the check. If for whatever reason it doesn't match the numerical line or box, the bank will take the check for the amount on the written line.
It may seem like a small mistake, but it can cost people money. It's also a more common issue than you might think.
Bank tellers look at checks, and they can recognize the difference more often than someone who receives your check. Always verify this line is correct, and don't forget to block out any extra space to keep people from tampering with your check.
Write In the Numbers
Once you write the legal amount on the written line, you can write in the numbers. The numerical box makes it easy for people to see the check amount.
But it should match the written line to avoid confusion at the bank. You can use this time to check the written amount again to make sure it's accurate.
If you wrote the wrong amount, you can change it to the written line, or you can write a new check. Either way, don't rely on this part of the check to state the amount of the payment.
Still, writing the numbers in the box is important. You can verify the check's value, and it will make it easier for a teller or a banking app to track the amount.
Sign the Check
You're almost done writing a bank check, and your last step is to sign it. Use your signature and don't try to get fancy with it.
If someone doesn't have a bank account and needs to cash your check at your bank or a check-cashing place, your signature has to be as close as possible to the one on file.
When your signature doesn't match, that can be a sign of fraud. And if the person you pay can't get their cash, you may need to write a check with the right signature.
So make it easier on everyone and sign your checks the same way each time. And if someone else needs to sign your check, make sure they're on the account and that the bank has a record of their signature.
Initial Any Changes
If you know how to fill out a check, you shouldn't have this issue often. However, people make mistakes, and you may not want to write a new check each time you have an issue.
Luckily, you can initial next to any changes you make. Whether you wrote the wrong date, name, or payment amount, you can alter it.
But your signature will show that you authorized the change. Then, your payee can deposit or cash the check easily.
How to Fill Out a Check
Knowing how to fill out a check properly is an important skill for many adults. If you can't write a check correctly, you could cause some issues when someone deposits or cashes it.
Writing a check is just a part of personal finance. So keep these things in mind next time you have to write a check or get one as payment.
Would you prefer to pay for things with a card? Check out these prepaid cards.