How to Write a Check: A Step-by-Step Guide
Nearly everything is digital these days, but there are some situations in which you still have to write a physical check. Ever since the late 1990s, people have been using checks less and less, but billions of checks are still written each year in the United States, meaning that your time will come; one day you’ll probably have to write a check.
Get to know the different parts of a check and learn how to write a check so that it clears without any problem. We’ll walk you through a step-by-step guide to check writing so that you can send a check smoothly.
Get to Know the Parts of a Check
To write a check you have to have a check. So, get in touch with your bank to order checks with your information on them. Most bank accounts include a set number of free checks that will cover you for a few years as long as you don’t write checks that often.
Now, take a look at your blank check. It might look confusing if you’ve never filled out a blank check before. The parts of a check include:
- In the top left-hand corner, you’ll see your information. This usually includes your name and your address but sometimes it might include your phone number.
- In the top right-hand corner, you’ll see the check number.
- In between the above two items, you’ll see a line for the date. You’ll have to fill this out, and make sure you write it clearly!
- The recipient line will say something like “pay to the order of,” which essentially means that you’re writing the check to be paid to that person or business.
- Underneath that is the payment amount line where you’ll write out the amount in words, not numbers.
- To the right is the payment amount box, which is where you write the amount of the check (in number form).
- At the bottom of the check, you’ll see two lines. The one on the left is for a memo, which is just a place to write what the check is for (if you want), such as rent or bills. To the right is the signature line where you’ll sign the check.
- Then, at the very bottom of the check, you’ll see your bank’s routing number, checking account number and check number.
Fill Out the Check
Now that you understand the parts of a check, it’s time to fill it out! The only parts you have to fill out are the:
- Pay to the order of
- Payment amount line
- Payment amount box
And, we’d suggest filling out the check in that order. Usually, you’d start with the date. This is the date you’re writing the check. Or, if you don’t want somebody to cash it until a certain date, write that future date.
Next, fill out the “pay to the order of” line. Here, you’ll write the name of the person you’re writing the check to. Or, you’ll write the name of the organization. Usually, if you’re making a check out to a specific organization (such as the DMV, for example), they’ll tell you exactly what you write.
Then, don’t forget to fill out the payment amount. You’ll have to write it in number form in the payment amount box and then write it out with words on the payment amount line. Never leave either blank as someone could potentially take the check and fill it in to cash it for a higher amount.
Finally, you need to sign the check. You don’t have to write a memo, but it’s helpful for your records. And, depending on who you’re writing the check for, they might request that you fill out the memo line as well. This is usually for billing accounts, apartment numbers, or other identifying information.
Tips for Writing a Check
When you learn how to write a check, it’s easy to make mistakes. Follow these tips to help ensure you don’t encounter any problems:
- Use a pen! Never write a check with a pencil as it’s easy to erase and write in different amounts or change the name of the person you’re sending the check to.
- Never give out a blank, signed check. While it can be tempting to hand a check to a friend or family member with the number amount left blank for them to fill in later, that’s a huge no-no. If you don’t know the exact dollar amount just yet, wait to write the check. Sure, they might not forge the check for a higher amount, but it could fall into the hands of someone who would.
- Always fill out the dollar amount to the left side of the amount box. Write the number amount of the check as far to the left in the box as possible. This prevents anybody from adding any extra numbers at the front.
- Avoid paying with checks. Set up automatic bill payment or make electronic payments when possible. While it’s not necessarily dangerous to send checks, online secure payments tend to be both faster and safer.
Online Banking Without Checks
If you don’t want to ever write a check again, sign up for online banking and set up automatic bill payments online.
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