Do you remember when you learned to ride a bike? Probably you felt insecure at first. The same can happen when you start writing checks for the first time. But, as with a bicycle, the good news is that once you learn through these simple instructions, it’s something you will never forget.
As a business owner, one of your essential duties is to write checks to make purchases, pay creditors or pay yourself an owner bonus.
Here’s what a filled-out check looks like. We’ll take an in-depth look at all 6 parts of the check so you understand how to complete each section with a check of any financial institution.
How to Fill Out a Check Step-by-Step
Checks are preprinted with your name and address, your bank’s name, the check number, your account number, and the routing number. Some include the date you opened the account which appears near your name. Please note this suggestion: Before identity theft became a common occurrence, people would have the bank print their social security numbers and birthdates on the checks. Don’t even think about doing that. Likewise, you should always use a pen and not a pencil to fill out a check.
The six blank areas are where you write in information.
1. Fill in the check written date
Most checks have a blank line on the top-right corner where you can write the date. You can write the date like this: 12-01-2019, 12/01/2019, or write out the month as of December 1, 2019. Avoid post-dating the check (writing on a future date) and telling someone not to cash it. If you don’t have funds to cover it, you could easily overdraw your account. The financial institution bank teller may overlook the future date, and a person may decide to cash the check early.
2. Pay to the order of
Write in the name of who you are releasing funds to (the recipient). This could be a person or company. Avoid filling in the blank with the word “cash”. If the check is lost, anyone can deposit the check to their account. Plus, checks made out to cash look suspicious if your business’s records are audited.
3. Fill out the payment amount
In this section to the right of the pay to the order of line, write the amount of the check, in numbers. Make sure you write the numbers clearly to avoid any discrepancies. If you write the wrong amount, it’s better to void the check and write a new one.
4. Write the amount in words
The amount in numbers must match the words written out. If they don’t, banks follow section 3.114 of the Uniform Commercial Code which states, “If an instrument contains contradictory terms, typewritten terms prevail over printed terms, handwritten terms prevail over both, and words prevail over numbers.” In other words, banks will cash the check for the amount in words if the numbers and words don’t match. That may not happen if a bank clerk doesn’t notice the discrepancy
5. Complete the memo line section
On the bottom left of the check, there’s space to indicate the reason for writing the check. You could also enter an account number so the payment is posted correctly to your account.
6. Sign the check
For good reason, banks don’t cash unsigned checks. Sign in the space provided using the same name you used to open the banking account. By signing the check, you’re validating that all the information is correct.
Now, you know how to fill out a check but you may still have other questions.
FAQs on How to Fill Out a Check
Doing something for the first time like riding a bike or rollerblading always seems harder because you have more questions than experience. Here are some common questions about how to fill out a check.
- Where do I write my account number on a check? Some companies will require you to write in the check the account you have open with them (for example, your energy provider, medical insurance, or the IRS). Please note that this doesn’t refer to your account number (as shown on the bottom of your check), but to the account number of your service provider. You can write this account number in the “memo” section (as shown in step 5) and also at the very top of the check, next to your name.
- How do I write a check with cents? If you fill out a check for $89.35, make sure to put a decimal after the dollar amount. When you write the amount in words, write it as a fraction: “eighty-nine and 35/100”.
- How do I void a check? In big letters, write the word void through the amount in numbers and words as well as through the signature. Save the check to record that check number as a voided check.
- What does endorsing a check mean? When somebody writes you a check, you typically need to endorse it so you can cash the check or deposit it. To endorse a check, sign your name on the back. You should endorse the check the same way the name is written on the front of the check.
- How can I avoid having someone change the amount on my check? Write the amount of the check close to the dollar sign in the numbers box and as far left as possible when writing out the amount in words. In the wrong hands, someone could change $5,000 to $15,000 when you leave too much space. After writing the amount in words, draw a line to the right up to the printed word “dollars” so no one can change the amount in words.
Tips to Have a Healthy Checking Account
Knowing how to fill out a check is one thing but it’s equally important to optimize your checking account’s financial health.
- Shop banks: Before opening a checking account, compare the best business checking accounts to determine which one offers the best features. How much do they charge for ATM, monthly and overdraft fees, and checkbooks? What online services do they offer?
- Take advantage of automation: Pay your bills automatically online each month and save time by not writing checks. You also save on postage because you don’t need to mail the payments. Remember that it’s also possible to automatically transfer funds from your savings to your business checking account to make sure you don’t run low on cash.
- Set up checking alerts: You can keep tabs on fraudulent activity by setting alerts to notify you of suspicious-looking activity. If something does happen, you’ll be immediately notified and you’ll have time to secure your account.
- Get free checks, if possible: Ask your bank if they have any promotions involving free checks. For example, many banks offer free checks to seniors. Also, make sure you keep at least 3 months worth of checks on hand.
- Keep one single checking account: If you have multiple checking accounts, it’s hard to keep up with transactions and therefore, easier to make mistakes.
- Record transactions: As soon as you write a check, enter the check number, the name of the recipient, and the amount into the check register. If you use a mobile app, you can enter the check information by logging into your online account. Remember you can also make mobile deposits without actually visiting a bank.
- Reconcile your bank statement each month: Knowing how much money is in your checking account doesn’t mean that’s the amount available to spend. You must take into consideration any outstanding checks that haven’t been posted and recent deposits that aren’t shown on your current statement. By comparing your records with the bank’s records, you can make adjustments to balance your checking account.
Having more knowledge is always better
After you learn how to ride a bike, you never forget it. The same is true when you know how to fill out a check. Writing checks becomes second nature.
Our goal at Camino Financial is to provide relevant information to grow your business. Keep reading to learn more:HOW TO CHOOSE A BANK FOR YOUR SMALL BUSINESS CHECKING VS SAVINGS ACCOUNT: WHAT DO YOU NEED FOR YOUR SMALL BUSINESS?