How to Write a Check

By Jay White

February 11, 2015   •   Fact checked by Dumb Little Man

Though checks were once a very common way of spending money, as time goes on they have become less common. This is for several reasons. One major reason is that banks have become stricter about issuing checking accounts to people, and will not give an account to someone with a bad enough credit history without a significant amount of cash on hand. A second reason is that there are a lot fewer free items that come with accounts, and many people are avoiding checking accounts and the fees that come with purchasing checks and paying for monthly maintenance fees. Though these can often be avoided with a minimum balance or with direct deposited paychecks, this is not an option for many people with limited funds. Finally, many people have taken advantage of the many pay online or pay by card options that a debit card can offer, and this has made checks less common. There are many cases where having a checkbook can be very handy, however. If you have never written a check, here is the way to do it correctly:

1. Before you write a check, verify that you have enough funds in your bank account to cover them. Writing bad checks is considered a felony, and can be easily avoided if you keep good track of your money. Checking your balance online is one great way to verify your account balance, though money that was recently deposited or withdrawn may not be reflected.

2. Ensure that whoever you are trying to pay will take your check. Not everyone will take the temporary checks that a bank issues at the start. Also, some people don’t take personal checks as a general rule, or only take local checks. Before you write a check to anyone who doesn’t ask for payment by mail, it helps to ask. Checks are still the most secure way to mail a payment, however.

3. To begin writing a check, write the date in the upper right-hand corner. This is usually the day that you pay, and not the day that you expect the person to cash the check. There are times that you will write the date on the check for slightly later. This is called post-dating. However, since there is no real way of controlling when someone cashes a check, there is risk to doing this.

4. Enter the name of the person or business that you are writing the check to on the first main line of the check.

5. In the box on the right of the check, enter the amount you want to pay. On the second line of the check, write that same amount in dollars. If you are not paying an exact dollar amount, you can either write your cents as a fraction over 100, like “thirty and 9/100 dollars,” or you can write “thirty dollars and nine cents” on that line. It is always a good idea to draw a line from the end of your writing across the rest of this line. It keeps people from adding extra money to your check, like turning something that says “thirty” into something that says “thirty thousand.”

6. Sign the bottom right, and add any notes you want on the bottom left. These notes are great if you are paying a bill, because you can put your account number on there and prevent confusion. Once this is done, your check is ready to use.

7. Finally, make a note of the amount paid, so that you can keep track of your proper balance even before the check is cashed.

Jay White

I started Dumb Little Man many years ago so great authors, writers and bloggers could share their life "hacks" and tips for success with everyone. I hope you find something you like!

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