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Filling out a check used to be a habit for many people. But with debit cards, online banking and mobile payments, it's now a bit of a lost art. If you need help with how to write a check, the Nerds at NerdWallet have you covered:
1. Include the date.
This goes on the line in the top right corner of the check. If you're in the U.S., write it as month-date-year. You can choose to fill out the date completely or use numbers. For example, write June 20, 2021 or 6/20/2021.
2. Name the recipient.
Who will receive the check? Write their name on the line that begins with “Pay to the order of.” You can name a person or a business. For a person, be sure to use their full name and not a nickname.
3. Fill in the amount with numerals.
This is the easy part. Just write out in numbers how much you owe. In the animation above, the check is written for nine hundred dollars and fifty cents.
4. Write out the amount in words.
Put this on the line below the “Pay to the order of” line. Add a cap so the recipient can't add money. Do this by including cents — use a fraction, such as 50/100 — or the word "even" if the amount is even.
5. Say what it's for.
Write this on the “Memo” line. This part is optional but handy. It helps you remember why you wrote the check.
6. Sign your name.
This goes in the bottom right hand corner of the check. Note that your check will be rejected if you don't sign it.
Have more questions? Check out our FAQs section.
» Looking for top checking options? Check out our list of the best free checking accounts
How to write a check: FAQs
Q: What should I do if I make a mistake?
A: If it’s a minor slip-up, draw a single line through the word and rewrite it. Otherwise, invalidate the check by writing “void” across it in large letters. You might be asked for a voided check when setting up direct deposit with a new employer.
Q: What is a post-dated check?
A: A post-dated check has a future date written on it. For instance, if you’re mailing your December rent check on Nov. 28 but won’t have the necessary funds until the first of the month, you might date the check Dec. 1. However, post-dating checks is not recommended. The bank doesn't have to honor that later date, and overdraft or non-sufficient funds fees may apply if you don't have the money to cover it.
Q: Why do some people write lines on their checks when the amount is even?
A: Instead of writing the word “even,” you can simply draw a straight line through the empty space that follows the written-out dollar amount. That way, fraudsters can’t add numbers to make the check worth more than you intended.
Q: Is writing a check to myself allowed?
A: Yes, you can do so by naming yourself as the recipient. That’s one way to move money from one bank account to another. Either deposit the check at your new bank or use its mobile check-deposit service, if it has one. Be sure to have a valid, government-issued photo ID.
Q: Can I write a check for “cash”?
A: Yes, you can, but it’s not a good idea since someone else could cash it if it fell into the wrong hands. If you still really want to write a check for cash, you write “Cash” as the payee in the “Pay to the Order of” line on the check.
Now that you've gotten an overview on how to write a check, take some time to compare your account to the best checking accounts and savings accounts on the market. You might find that it’s time for a change.
» Want to dig deeper? Read more about the parts of a check