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
Step 1. Fill 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.
Step 2. 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.
Step 3. 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.
Step 4. 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”.
Step 5. 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.
Step 6. 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.
Cashier’s Check vs Money Order: How to Decide. This post shares some wonderful tips on when to use a cashier’s check or money order. It shares the advantages and disadvantages of both instruments.
What is a Cashier’s Check and How Does It Work?. Have you ever heard about a Cashier’s check? If not this post will help you understand a cashier’s check and when to use it.
What Is a Certified Check?. Learn more about a certified check and how it differs from other forms of payment.
How to Cash a Check Fast and Easily. Do you have a check and don’t know how to cash it fast and easily? This post will help find ways to cash your check fast and easily.
Where To Cash A Check. List places where you can cash a check in America and other western countries.
How To Fill Out a Personal Check to Someone 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.
How Can I Check The Status of My Issued Check?
The easiest way to check the status of your issued checks is to check your bank statement either online or on a paper statement.
If it has been paid it will show on the statement and if it is missing then it could be that the payee has not deposited the check yet.
Sometimes it could be that the payee has deposited the check but it is yet to clear the bank.
In some online banking services, one can check the status of all checks whether presented or unpresented.
How Do I Issue Cash Check?
If you want to issue a cash check you need to write the word, “Cash” in the “Pay “line. In this case, the check has no specific payee.
Once you do that the check will be open for the encashment as long as you don’t cross the check.
Just be aware that since the check has no specific payee anybody can cash the check as it is as good as cash.
How Long Do You Get To Cash A Check?
In most jurisdictions 6 months after the date on the check is the period within which a check has to be cashed or deposited into a bank account.
Once the six months are over some banks may refuse to process it. However, banks still reserve the right to pay a check that is past this 6 months period.
How to write numbers in words on a check?
Standard practice is that when you are writing a check you only need to write in words the full dollar amount. The cents side is usually written as a fraction.
An example would be where you want to write a check for $2,000.42 In this case you will write it as “Two thousand dollars 42/100”.
You can however choose to write the whole amount in words. That is acceptable and the banks will still honor it.