With the many ways to transfer money and make payments online, checks are less common. If you need to write a check, learn the proper way.
Estimated reading time: 4 minutes
Table of contents
Step-by-step guide for writing a check
Digital payments are becoming more and more common. However, checks are still widely used. If it’s your first time writing a check or you need a reminder, take the following steps to properly write a check:
Step 1: Write today’s date
On the line at the top right of the check, write today’s date. It ensures that you, the recipient, and your financial institution knows when you wrote the check. It also helps everyone keep accurate records.
There are times where you may want to post-date a check. That means you’ll write a future date, which is helpful when mailing a check. It ensures that the check can’t be cashed early.
Step 2: Who is the check for?
Next, go down to the line that says “Pay to the order of” and write the name of the person or organization that you’re paying.
Avoid writing “cash” or leaving it blank because it can get in the wrong hands, and anyone would be able to cash the check.
Step 3: Amount in numbers
To the right of the payee, there’s a box or line with a dollar sign next to it. That’s where you’ll write the amount that you’d like to pay in numbers.
You must write all of the digits clearly so that the correct amount will be withdrawn from your account.
Step 4: Amount in words
Under the payee information, there’s a line for you to write the payment amount in words. The numbers and words must match to ensure the correct amount is processed.
Step 5: Your signature
At the bottom-right corner, sign the check. Without your signature, the check won’t be valid.
It’s also important for you to have a consistent signature to ensure your financial institution can spot forged checks.
Step 6: Add a memo (optional)
The memo section is optional. However, you can add any short note that you’d like. It works as a reminder for you and the payee for the check.
Tips for writing a check
Since a check has your name, address, account number, and routing number on it, you must do your best to keep it safe.
The following are tips to help you decrease the chances of fraud or theft:
- Keep track of the checks you write. Use a check register or make a note to yourself with the check number and information. Keeping a record will ensure you catch any lost checks and if it withdrew an incorrect amount.
- Use a pen. Writing a check with a pen will ensure that the information can’t be changed.
- Keep your signature consistent. One of the ways a financial institution can detect fraud is with your signature. Fraud can be caught much easier if your signature is consistent.
- Write “void” if you make an error. If you make a mistake, write “void” in big letters and start a new check.
- Don’t make it payable to “cash”. When you write “cash” in the payee field, anyone can cash the check. To ensure it gets to the right person or organization, write their name.
- Place a stop payment on lost checks. If someone loses a check or it hasn’t been deposited after a few weeks or months, contact your financial institution to place a stop payment on the check.
Try to make payments or transfers digitally. Sometimes it isn’t an option, and writing a check is the only choice. It may seem intimidating at first but after learning the 6 steps for writing a check, it’ll become second nature.
Featured image courtesy of Unsplash.
About David Em
David Em is the founder of More Money More Choices, which he launched to help you take control of your finances and build your dream life. Before More Money More Choices, David worked in leadership positions in the finance industry.