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Complete Guide to Writing and Cashing Checks

Updated on August 23, 2022 01:09 pm
writing a check

A check is a written, dated, and signed valuable document that serves as an instruction to a bank to pay the bearer a certain amount of money. 

If you are the one writing the check, you are the payor, and the person to whom you are writing the check is the payee.

There are many types of checks, such as: 

  • Personal checks
  • Cashier's checks
  • Traveler's checks
  • Certified checks

Checks are still used today, even though they are becoming less prevalent in the digital era, given the abundance of online options for sending money. You might still use checks to pay your rent or to cash checks you receive as gifts from your elderly uncle.

This article will teach you all you need to know about writing checks, including how to write them step-by-step, cash them, identify fraudulent checks, and much more.

How To Write A Check: Step-by-Step Guide 

6 Easy Steps to Write a Check:

  • First, write the date in the box or line that says "Date" in the upper right corner of the check. Always write the same date that you signed the check.
  • Next, write the name of the recipient on the line next to the words “Pay to the order of.” If it is a person, write their first and last name. If it is a company, make sure you have their company name correct for payments. If you write “Cash” here, anyone can cash the check and get the money from your account.
  • Fill in the amount next to the dollar sign ($) in numerals. Write the pennies, even if that amount is zero. For example, $100.00. (Avoid leaving any blank spaces in the box to prevent fraud so that no one may alter the dollar amount or cents you like to pay. To ensure there is no blank space before or after the number, draw horizontal lines in the box.)
  • Next, write the dollar amount again, but in words, with cents as a fraction. To prevent someone else from writing on your check, fill in the space by writing the amount as far to the left as you can or draw a line afterward.
  • The memo line is optional. You can specify the purpose of the check, such as rent or utility bills. Although it is not essential, knowing this can help you manage your finances.
  • Sign the check in the bottom right corner of the check. If you don’t sign the check, it won’t be valid.
  • Finally, tear off the check if you are using a checkbook. The top copy is what you give your recipient. A carbon copy is the second, lighter copy that you can preserve for your records. Some banks will print out a check for you at the teller if you don't have a checkbook.

What Are The Numbers On The Bottom Of The Check?

You will see along the bottom of the check three groupings of numbers printed there. The first is the routing number, the second is the account number, and the third is the check number. 

Even if you don't need to be familiar with these when learning to write checks, it's nevertheless beneficial to know what these numbers stand for if a fake check is being presented.

Routing Number: Your bank's routing number serves as an identification number and is unique to each bank. If in doubt, check your bank's routing number.

Account Number: The number immediately to the right of the routing numbers is your bank account number-the account from which the check is drawn.

Check Number: This number serves as a unique check identification. It can be found in the check's top right or bottom right corners.

What Is A Blank Check?

If you don’t fill any amount on the check even though it has been signed by you, the check is a blank check.

How To Write Cents On A Check?

For example, if you have to write a check for $700.50, it would be written as ‘seven hundred dollars and 50/100’. You have to write the cent in fractional format when you are writing the amount in words. 

How To Write a $1000.00 On A Check?

You have the write $1000.00 as ‘one thousand dollars and 00/100’.

What Do You Write On The Back Of A Check?

You will need to write your signature on the back of a check that is written to you. Only then will you be able to cash it. Additionally, if you are depositing the money into that account, you must include particular information, such as the account number.

What To Write On The Memo Line On A Check?

The memo line is to write the purpose of the check, such as rent or utility payments. This is optional. But it is a good idea to use the memo line to remind you of the reason for writing the check. Later on, it will be much simpler for you to maintain track of your finances or balance your records.

Can You Write A Check To Yourself?

You can write a check to yourself by putting your name in the Pay to the order of” field. To cash it, you sign the check on the back of it. You can do this if you wish to transfer money from one account to another account.

How To Cash A Check?

The act of converting a check into actual cash after receiving it is known as "cashing a check."

To cash a check made payable to you:

  • You must first sign on the back of the check to endorse it.
  • You can cash it or deposit it online, if available, or bring it to your local bank office to deposit it into your account.
  • Bring identification or a bank card to the location where the check can be cashed.
  • Write the account number on the check's back if you plan to deposit it directly into an account.

The majority of checks clear in two business days. 

You can go directly to a bank location and ask to have the checks deposited and paid right fast if you need the money in your hands right now. You might be given the money right away by a teller.

Delays may occur because banks must also confirm the validity of the deposit to guard against fraud and potential losses from risky deposits.

How Long Do You Have To Cash A Check?

More than six months old checks are typically not accepted by banks. If you wait too long, there's also a potential that the check writer will close their account or utilize the money set aside for your check, leading the check to bounce. It’s always best to deposit or cash a check as soon as possible. 

Can You Cash A Check At An ATM?

Yes. Although it is not as simple as cashing a check at a bank, you can cash a check at an ATM. Keep in mind that not all ATMs will have this feature; some will merely let you deposit the check, and some won't even accept it.

Simply bring your check, your bank card, and a pen (to sign the check) to the ATM if it accepts checks, and then follow the on-screen instructions. You might need to have enough money already available in your account before the ATM can dispense the funds on the check.

Can You Cash A Check Online? 

Online check cashing is possible with mobile banking. You can complete it quickly and easily from the convenience of your home. Open the mobile app for your bank, find the check deposit page, and follow the on-screen directions to deposit a check online.

To deposit a check directly into your account, you might need to take a picture of it with your smartphone and submit it using the mobile app for your bank.

Can I Cash A Check At Any Bank?

Not every bank or credit union cashes checks for people who are not their customers. Only particular kinds of checks, such as government or salary checks, may get cashed at such banks. Banks favor checks that have guaranteed funds, such as certified and cashier's checks.

Call ahead and bring your ID if you're heading to a bank where you don't have an account so that the bank can be sure the appropriate person is receiving the cash. IDs can include:

  • Your driver’s license
  • Passport
  • Government-issued photo ID

If you don't have an account, banks will charge you a fee to cash a check. You may have to pay a flat fee of roughly $6 to $10, or the larger of a minimum fee or a percentage of the check amount, like 1%.

The best place to cash a personal check is the bank that issued the check. Look for the name or logo of the bank on the check to identify the issuing institution.

Remember that it should cost nothing to deposit a check into your checking account, and within a day or two, you can withdraw money from an ATM or bank branch.

In addition, banks normally only cash checks up to $5,000. However, this can vary from bank to bank. For checks over $5,000, banks frequently impose a higher fee.

Where Can I Cash A Check?

You can cash at a bank, a credit union, a check cashing business or a few retail places. However, you must be aware that you cannot simply stroll into any bank and expect the teller to instantly convert your cheque into cash. If you don't have an account with the bank, the banks may not cash your checks. 

You can also do it online using your bank’s mobile app. 

Here are some places where you can cash checks if you don’t have a bank account. They will charge for it, and the fees will vary.

  • Check cashing stores: You can cash small-business checks, personal checks, insurance checks, and money orders. Before you cash your checks, enquire about their fees.
  • Payday advance stores: This can be an expensive option. These payday lenders may impose hefty flat fees or percentage fees as high as 10%.
  • Walmart or other big retailers.
  • Grocery stores.
  • Pharmacy chains.
  • Some retailers can load your cash onto a prepaid debit card. These cards, however, can carry monthly fees or withdrawal fees.

How To Write A Voided Check?

A check can be voided or canceled by writing the word "VOID" across the front in the largest and clearest font you can manage, ensuring sure it completely covers the check.  A voided check cannot be deposited or paid. It becomes invalid.

A check can also be voided online. You might be able to log into the account depending on the bank, and if you have the choice to void a check or stop a check payment, choose this option and cancel the relevant check number.

You can contact customer service to cancel it. Before you call, have your account number, check number, and the exact amount on the check ready. If you give the erroneous check number, the incorrect payment may be canceled. 

Remember that if the bank needs to approve a stop payment request, there will be fees, and they will differ between banks. Usually, they cost around $30.

How To Spot A Fake Check?

One of the most prevalent types of fraud is the use of fake checks. You must confirm its validity before cashing it.

Here are some tips to spot a fake check:

  1. Spelling errors, a faded or absent bank logo, or problems in the bank's address—such as a P.O. box or the incorrect ZIP code—are examples of printed errors. These errors would not be present in a real check.
  2. Verify the numbers on the check. If the check number is absent, the transaction is fraudulent. If the routing number is written in shiny ink rather than the matte magnetic ink or if the number is either too short or too long, that might a fake one. If you are unsure, double-check the bank's routing number.
  3. Fake checks frequently have a fragile or ordinary printer paper feel to them. The edges of real checks are frequently rounded or perforated. Checks with smooth edges, which show they were printed rather than torn from a real checkbook, should be avoided.
  4. A forgery is evident if the signature is faded or if it appears to have been photocopied rather than handwritten.
  5. Call the bank immediately if the check is for less than $5,000 or if it arrived unexpectedly in the mail. Fraudsters usually always send less than $5,000 since banks sometimes release lower amounts without first checking the check. Also, letter carriers rarely deliver free money.
  6. If you have any questions or want to see if the check is in the record, contact the issuing bank. It is best not to call any number that is printed on the check. To get the bank's official phone number, visit their website.

Tips For Writing A Check

Here we share some tips for writing a check that will ensure a smooth transfer of funds to your payee:

  1. Your text is made clearer and less likely to be misinterpreted or misspelled when it is printed on the checks. When written by hand, it can occasionally be challenging to read.
  2. Never hand in a blank check. Fill out every field to ensure that you are completely protected.
  3. Make sure to accurately write the information, including the date, recipient's name, and amount.
  4. Get a consistent signature every time.
  5. Keep track of the payment in your checkbook.

In conclusion, while sending money online is the fastest and easiest way of sending money, Online payment is the simplest option. If you must go with the old ways, writing a check is easier than it appears once you get the hang of it. Just be sure to properly fill in the date, amount, and your signature. Remember to include the cents in the fractional form when writing the words version of the amount. 

And if the check is made out to you and you need to cash it, don't forget to endorse it by signing your name on the reverse. Writing or cashing a check will be a piece of cake after you have mastered the techniques.

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Also, there is no law preventing employees with bank accounts to opt for paycards as their payment option.Though generally, employees tend to prefer direct deposit because of its efficiency and the least costly method of payment, as a business owner or an employer, it is better to give options instead of imposing only one method.Ask your employees about their preferred method of payment and what benefits (convenience, low fees, etc.) serve them the best.In fact, Federal law requires employers to offer alternative payment methods like paper checks or direct deposits.Should Employer Provide Pay Stub?Pay stub provides details of the employees' pay for each pay period. Employers are not required by federal law to give employees their pay stubs. However, many states have laws that require some form of written pay statement.Even if your state doesn't need you to provide pay stubs, you are still required by the Fair Labour Standards Act to keep track of your employees' working hours.For employees, a pay stub gives a record of their wages, deductions, contributions, and other information. It is also proof of income or employment, which is often needed when applying for a loan, credit card, or housing.For employers, a pay stub is useful for tax purposes, and it can be used to resolve any discrepancies with employee pay.Is it Possible for Paycards to be Overdrafted?Usually, paycards works like debit card, allowing cardholders to withdraw up to the limit of the loaded amount. However, there are paycard that allows overdraft for employees. But it can come with hefty overdraft fees if employees use funds over the limit in their account. Usually, you should be able to prevent misuse by subscribing to an overdraft protection service.Will Paycard Affect Credit Score?Paycards, like all prepaid cards, do not affect an employee's credit score.What is a Paycard Gets Lost or Stolen?A replacement card can be issued in such cases. The employee needs to notify the employer, and then the employer should immediately notify the card issuer. The employee is not liable for the incident as long as the issue is timely reported. Paycards come with similar protection as that of a prepaid card.The reporting time is determined by the card issuer. If you wait longer to report after learning of the loss and theft, the fraudulent charges may increase. You may have to pay a fee for the replacement card.Pros and Cons of PaycardsProsA win-win situation for unbanked employees and their employers.Green alternative to paper checks.Immediate payment to employees.No hassle of cashing a paycheck.No monthly or maintenance fees.Added security when assessing their funds (paycards require a PIN).Employees can report to the issuer if funds are used unauthorized.Paycards can be reloaded during each payday, saving money on issuing paper checks.Added efficiency for the employer as the employer would not have to physically present or mail paychecks to unbanked employees.ConsEmployees may incur fees for several reasons. Be aware of such potential fees.Employers have certain responsibilities to educate employees about the usage of paycards.Limited range of services and flexibility in managing your funds compared to bank accounts and other prepaid cards.The best paycards programs are easy to set up, have lower fees, quick access to funds, and provide a range of benefits such as cashback and discounts. We have made a list of popular paycards providers for businesses:Wisely Paycard by ADPOnline portal and mobile appCompatible with Apple Pay, Samsung Pay, and Google PayZero cost sign upNo hidden feesNo credit checkNo overdraft feeZero cost direct deposit of pay and other sources of income (including government benefits)Accepted wherever Visa is acceptedKeep track of spending and account balances 24/7 on the appGet cash back at major retailersSurcharge-free ATM withdrawalsFDIC insuredSecurity features include instant card lock, purchase protection, and travel alert notificationsRapid PaycardDirect Deposit onto rapid paycardLoad funds from approved checks with Ingo Money mobile appsNo fee for cashing paycheck24/7 account access with rapid! Access mobile appNo credit checkCan be used at ATMs, merchants worldwide, wherever Debit Mastercard or Visa debit cards are acceptedPay bills and make purchasesBook airline and hotel reservations onlineEarn interest on savings accountGet cash back rewardsFDIC insuredMoney protected with Zero Fraud LiabilityKittrell PaycardNo fees to use (there are fees for certain situations)Fee-free ATM network with MoneyPassWebsite and Kittreall AppGet real-time alerts and push notificationsCash back at point-of-sale terminals2-way texting to manage your card and accountCompatible with Apple Wallet, Google Pay, Samsung PayEasy portability (Get direct deposit of stimulus checks, tax refund, benefits)Freeze or unfreeze card on-demandSkylight PaycardZero sign up feeNo credit checkNo minimum balance Personalized your card with a family photo or unique imageManage money anywhere on Mobile AppDirect deposit your government benefits, tax refundsUse anywhere where Visa Debit & Debit Mastercard are acceptedFDIC insuredZero liability protectionPay bills onlineEarn interest on savings accountEarn cash back with Payback RewardsSend money to or receive money from friends and family with Netspend cardsSet text alerts about transactionsRefer a friend and boost your card balanceSkylight overdraft limit is $100 & 3 times/ monthConclusionOverall, paycards can be convenient and cost-effective for employees and employees when compared to paychecks or for those employees with no bank account. And the paycard fees are becoming more transparent and competitive.While paycards can be challenging at times, especially when you are employed in multiple jobs and have a separate paycard with each employer, your funds are scattered in multiple cards so it becomes difficult to manage your finances. Some may prefer to put all their money in one place, like a checking account.However, if you can't open a bank account, a paycard is a great option to get paid. Read the fine prints before signing up for a paycard and know the potential fees that come with it.

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