These days, banks and credit unions issue debit cards to go with checking accounts. You can probably also send electronic checks by using your online account or just giving the payee an account and routing number. As debit cards and other electronic payments have grown more accepted and popular, people find that they don't write checks very often if at all.
Perhaps it's not surprising that many younger adults have checking accounts but have never or only rarely written checks. In a few circumstances, paper checks are the only way to pay, so it's a good idea to review the basics.
A Guide to Writing Checks
Follow these steps to write a check:
- Date: There is usually a line for the date in the top, right corner. In the US, you can format it MM/DD/YY. However, the bank will probably accept slightly different formats too. For instance, you can write the date as 02/08/2018, February 8, 2018, and so on.
- Payee: You should see a line near the left and center of the check that could have a caption like Pay to the Order of. You simply write the name of the person or business on this line. For most bills, this name doesn't have to follow a precise format. For some legal contracts, the name may have to be written exactly as it is on the legal document.
- Numeric amount: Just the the right of the payee, you should find a box to enter the amount in numbers. For example, you could enter $132.45 to represent that payment amount.
- Amount in words: Below the payee, you will have a line to write out the amount in words. For the previous example, you could write one-hundred and thirty-two and 45/100.
- Memo: In the left, bottom corner, you should have a line to write a memo. You can use this to write a note to yourself or the payee. This is entirely optional.
- Signature: Finally, you will need to sign your check on the line in the bottom, right corner. Match your writing style and name to the way you wrote it on your signature card. For instance, if you included a middle name or initial on your signature card, you should also include it on the check.
After your write the check, you should make a note of it in the ledger provided in your checkbook. This helps ensure you don't accidentally write any overdrafts and can help you check for errors later. Even if you tend to use your debit card more often than your checkbook, it's a good idea to record purchases.
What Else Should You Know About Writing Checks?
You should never write a check for an amount greater than you have in your checking account. That's called an overdraft. Your financial institution may choose to honor it anyway, but they will charge you a fee. Then you will need to deposit enough money to make up the difference and pay fees. You can put overdraft protection on your account, but you still may get charged. Typically, overdraft protection reduces fees, but it doesn't do away with them.
Today’s consumers have the information and the tools they need to take control of their finances—and Bundlefi is ready to empower consumers to make a change. Contact us today, or start exploring local institutions to see why it pays to keep your money close to home!