Despite the rise of digital payment methods, checks are still commonly utilised. Although paper checks are a cheap and efficient way to transfer funds, chances are you don’t write them very often.
This guide will teach you everything you need to know to write a cheque correctly. Go through the process one step at a time, or use the preceding check list as a template for your own. The sequence in which you do the tasks is not important, so long as you sign at the end and nothing is left out. Moving from the top to the bottom of a cheque is shown below to illustrate how to avoid missing any stages.
Before Writing the Check
Think carefully about whether you truly need to do anything before you write a cheque for it. To transfer money through cheque is time-consuming and inconvenient. It’s possible that there are alternative choices available to you that might reduce your workload and save you money. As an example, you may
- You may use the internet to pay your bills, and you can even set up recurring payments with your bank. You won’t have to worry about creating a cheque, buying stamps or mailing it.
- Instead of using cash, switch to using a debit card. You’ll still be using the same account, but payments will be made online instead. You may avoid writing out checks (which you’ll have to reorder) and save a digital record of your payment’s details (amount, date, and payee’s name).
- Automate the payment of reoccurring expenses, such as rent or insurance premiums. This method of payment is convenient and often free of charge. Make sure there is enough money in your checking account to pay your bills on time.
Make sure you have enough money in your bank account or other payment method of choice at all times. Failure to do so might result in “bouncing” payments, which can lead to difficulties such as late penalties and even legal action.
You may also like reading: How to Create an Effective Sales Report (+ Free Template)
How To Fill Out a Check
The ideal check is described below.
In the upper right corner, jot down this information. To facilitate efficient record-keeping on both ends, the current date is often used. Postdating a cheque is another option, however it doesn’t always function as expected.
Under “Pay to the order of,” specify who or what you’re sending money to. Because this information must be correct, you may need to inquire, “Whom do I make the cheque out to?” if you are unsure of what to write.
Amount in numeric form:
Fill up the right-hand box with the total amount you want to pay. Get as far to the left as you can when you first start writing. If you’re paying $8.15, make sure the “8” is flush with the left edge of the dollar box to avoid fraud. Check out some input samples to learn the correct format.
Amount in words:
Avoiding fraud and misunderstanding by writing down the amount in words. This is the final amount that will be deducted from your account. If the written amount is different from the numeric amount provided in the previous stage, the written amount will be considered the amount of the cheque for legal purposes. Capitalise all words to make them more difficult to change.
Make sure your signature appears legibly in the bottom right corner of the cheque. Don’t change your name or signature if the bank already has it on file. This is a necessary step since a voided cheque cannot be cashed.
Memo (or “For”) line:
Incorporate a remark if you so like. This is completely unnecessary and will not affect the way your cheque is processed at the bank. You might provide a helpful reminder of the check’s purpose on the message line. You might also use this space to provide any notes the recipient might need to complete the payment (or locate your account in the event of a mishap). If you’re sending money to the Internal Revenue Service or a utility company, for instance, you may use this space to include your Social Security or account number.
After You Write the Check
Make sure to keep track of your payment once you’ve written the cheque. Whether you choose paper or digital, this should be done in a check register. Until the cheque is deposited or cashed, the funds will still appear as accessible in your account, so it’s important to keep track of the transaction to avoid spending the money twice. Making a note of the payment now, while it is still fresh in your memory, is highly recommended.
Keeping a chequebook record of all your written checks enables you to:
- Maintain a budget to avoid having your checks bounce.
- Be aware of the destination of your funds (your bank statement may just reveal the cheque number and amount, without identifying the recipient).
- Safeguard your bank account against identity theft.
A chequebook isn’t complete without a matching check register. You may quickly and easily create your own on paper or a spreadsheet if you don’t already have one.
Make a copy of your whole cheque, including the following details:
- Number of the cheque
- Date of check’s creation
- Whom or what the cheque was written to describe the transaction.
- What was bought with the money
A check’s diagram will show you exactly where to look for each piece of information.
Your chequebook register may help you maintain a healthy financial balance. You should always verify your bank transactions to ensure that your records match those kept by the financial institution. For example, if someone you gave a cheque to fails to deposit it, you won’t mistakenly think you have more money to spend than you really have.
The amount of cash you now have on hand may also be quickly seen by consulting your chequebook register. When you write a cheque, you can usually depend on having no access to that money again; this is especially true if your cheque is transformed into an electronic cheque and the funds are immediately withdrawn.
Tips for Writing a Check
Make sure your cheque is cashed for the correct amount and given to the correct person or organisation.
If a cheque is lost or stolen, the thief may easily modify it. If you don’t want to deal with the hassle of missing checks, make it hard for fraudsters to steal them from you. It takes time and energy to clean up after fraud, regardless of whether or not any money was lost.
Adopt the following practises to lessen your vulnerability to account fraud.
Make it permanent:
When writing a cheque, always use a pen. If you write your cheque with a pencil, anybody with an eraser may alter the amount and the payee’s name.
No blank checks:
Don’t sign a cheque before you’ve written down the amount and the name of the recipient. Instead of handing someone your whole bank account number if you aren’t sure who the cheque should be made out to or how much it will cost, simply carry a pen.
Keep checks from growing:
Be careful to print the monetary value in a manner that makes it difficult for fraudsters to add to it after you’ve filled it in. Draw a line after the last digit, beginning at the far left edge of the area. In the case of a cheque for $8.15, the “8” should be written as far to the left as practicable. Then either make the numbers so big that it’s impossible to add them up, or draw a line from the right side of the “5” to the end of the area. Leaving a blank might result in the cheque being for $98.15 or $8,159 if the recipient adds their own zeroes.
Invest in chequebooks that include carbon copies if you value a paper trail of your financial transactions. Each check you write is duplicated on a tiny page stored at the back of the chequebook. The checks you made and the amounts they represent are easily traceable.
Some individuals even draw funny pictures as their signatures on their checks and credit card slips. However, you may assist yourself and your bank spot fraudulent activity by sticking to one signature. If a signature doesn’t match, you have less of a chance of being held liable for the accusations.
Without “Cash” Never make a cheque or money order payable to cash. This is as dangerous as walking about with a stack of cash or a blank cheque that you have already signed.2 You can acquire cash from a teller, an ATM, or even a pack of gum if you use your debit card to pay for it.
Write fewer checks:
Paying with a cheque isn’t the safest option, but it’s not the most dangerous either. Electronic transactions eliminate the risk of misplacing or stealing payment documents. A date and the payee’s name are often included in the electronic format, making it simpler to trace payments. Make regular payments through a method like online bill payment, and make smaller purchases with a credit or debit card.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Can I write a check to myself?
When should I sign the check?