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How to Write a Check: 6 Simple Steps

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Although it’s not as common, there may come a time you’ll need to write a check.

Recently, I had to write a check to renew my passport. I could have gotten a money order, but it was actually easier (and cheaper) to write a check. As I wrote the check, my niece asked me what I was doing. So I showed her how “the olden days” paid other people. That experience inspired me to share with others how to properly write a check.

What is a Check?

A check is a written, dated, and signed instrument that directs a bank to pay a specific amount of money to the bearer or a designated person. In an era of digital transactions, checks remain a crucial part of the financial system, especially in business transactions, rent payments, and situations where electronic payments are not feasible.

What Are Checks Used For

Checks are used for a variety of purposes:

  1. Security: Checks provide a secure method of payment. Unlike cash, if a check is lost or stolen, it can generally be canceled or stopped.
  2. Documentation: They offer a paper trail and proof of payment. Each transaction is recorded by the bank and on the individual’s checkbook ledger.
  3. Non-Digital Payments: In scenarios where electronic payments are not possible or preferred, checks serve as an alternative payment method.
  4. Control Over Funds: Checks can be post-dated, which means they provide control over exactly when the money is withdrawn from an account.
How to Write a Check

Steps to Write a Check

Writing a check is a straightforward process, but getting each step right is important to ensure the payment is processed without any issues.

Step 1: Date the Check

Write the date on the line at the top right-hand corner. This informs the bank of the date the check was written and can also be used to post-date a check to be cashed or deposited in the future.

Step 2: Write the Payee’s Name

On the line that says “Pay to the order of,” write the name of the person or company you’re paying. Ensure the correct spelling to avoid problems when the payee deposits the check.

Step 3: Write the Amount in Numeric Form

Next to the dollar sign on the right, write the numerical amount of the check (e.g., $123.45). Make sure to start writing as far left as possible to prevent fraudsters from adding another digit to the amount.

Step 4: Write the Amount in Words

On the line directly below the payee’s name, write the dollar amount in words to match the numeric form. For example, you write, “One hundred twenty-three and 45/100.” Writing the amount in words is critical as it confirms the numeric amount.

Financial institutions rely on the written amount more so than the numerical. Ensure it’s legible and clear.

Step 5: Make a Note (Optional)

The memo line at the bottom left of the check is optional but recommended for noting the reason for the check. This can help with record-keeping and clarifying the check’s purpose to the payee.

For example, in the memo field, I wrote “Passport Renewal” and added my Social Security number. You can use the memo field to write in 1-2 word reasons and also add account numbers or payment IDs.

Step 6: Sign the Check

Sign your name on the line at the bottom right of the check. This is the most crucial part, as the check will not be valid without your signature.

Conclusion

Writing a check involves detailing the payment amount, recipient, and your authorization. It’s still a useful skill in the world of digital payments.

Ensure your checks are written clearly and securely to avoid fraud and misunderstandings.

When was the last time you wrote a check?

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