Today’s topic on how to fill out a personal check makes me feel very old.
When I started work in Finance in the 1990s checks were very commonly used. Almost all the payments were through checks.
How things have changed now! Nowadays checks are not as widely used in modern Accounts Departments as they were before. The majority of the payments are now done online.
There are still occasions where checks are still used. Therefore even though they are on their way out it is still important to learn how to fill checks as we might still use them.
This is not just confined to corporations and organizations as anyone with a checking account can issue a check.
For example, you could have a payee who is not willing to reveal his bank accounts and therefore needs to be paid in checks. I remember my former landlord demanded to be paid in checks for whatever reason.
This also happens in the workplace as well. I remember when I was responsible for payments at a certain company, an old person told me that he could only accept check payments and not any other type of payment.
How Do You Fill Out A Check?
Below are the steps
- Date: This is usually at the top right-hand corner of the check. Here you will put the date you are writing the check. On the other hand, if you are short of cash or don’t want to pay right away you can post-date the check i.e. put a future date. You should, however, be aware that banks can still cash a post-dated check before the date on the check.
- Payee. The next line to fill is the payee line which in most checks has the words, “Pay To The Order Of” or just “Pay”. On this line, you will write the name of the individual or company or organization you are paying. You, however, need to make sure that you have the correct name as sometimes the banks can turn down a check if the name is incorrect. It is important not to assume that and individual or an organization uses the names you are familiar with. They may have a different name for their bank accounts.
- Numeric amount. Right next to the payee line is the box where you write the amount you are paying. To prevent fraud it is advisable that the amount you write is as close as possible to the left-hand border of the box. If you don’t do this you open yourself for fraud as someone can insert another digit.
- Amount in words. This is the line where you put in words the amount you are paying. Banks will consider this to be the official amount or the legally binding amount. Therefore if it differs from the numeric amount the bank will choose the amount in words. The tradition is to put the amount in cents in numeric form as a fraction of 100 i.e. if you are paying someone 1000.10 you will write as, “one thousand dollars 10/100”.
- Signature: This is the most important part of the check. Therefore you need to make sure that the signature you write here matches the signature your bank has in its records. Otherwise, your check will bounce.
- Memo: This is an optional line and the banks don’t mind what you write on this line. Having said that I should also point out that some utility companies may ask that you put your account number on that line. The utility company may not post your payment to your utility account if you don’t do this. However, even if you don’t write your utility account number the check will still clear the bank.
Below are some articles to help you learn more about checks.
How to fill out a personal check to some Frequently Asked Questions
Do you have to fill out Memo on the check?
You don’t necessarily have to write anything in the memo area. The check will still go through even if you don’t write anything on that line. It is, however, a good space to write something for the benefit of yourself or the payee.
How do you fill out a check without cents?
In the amount in words line, you can put the zero as a fraction of 100 i.e. 0/100. That is if you were paying someone $1000 then you can write, “one thousand dollars 0/100” and then put a parallel line to the end of that line to close it. You can also just write, “one thousand dollars only”.
Can you write a check with no money in your account?
If you do that and the check gets deposited it will bounce unless of course, you have sufficient overdraft limit to cover the amount on the check. If you don’t have money in your account then don’t write any checks. You can then avoid bank charges for bounced checks also known as non-sufficient funds (NSF) checks.
Can you use a pencil on a check?
It is possible to write a check using a pencil but a dumb idea. Anyone can easily erase the details and put whatever he wants and as long as your signature is intact the check can be cashed. Always use a pen when writing a check and your fund will be safe.