This blog post covers the different parts of how to write a check and includes some ‘common cents’ recommendations for writing a personal check (or cheque) as well.
Wondering how to write out a personal check? Or perhaps a refresher on how to read a check or how to write-out cents? Look no further! This quick reference guide is here to help!
SOLVED! HOW TO WRITE A CHECK, STEP-BY-STEP
Here we go step-by-step with a personal check example for consideration along the way. If it has been a while since your had to write out a check, or if this is your first time doing so, we’ve got you covered!
Ever wonder how to fill out a check? While filling out a check is probably less common than it once was, it is still important to understand the proper fields, check formatting, and procedure to securely complete it.
Parts of a Check
Welcome to the anatomy of a check! Ever wonder how to read a check? Here is a sample check with 12 different parts to be aware of. We’ll go through each field with a brief explanation for each. (For items #5 and #6, we’ll also provide examples on how to write a check with cents).
- Your Personal Information
- Check Sequence/Number
- Pay to the Order of (Payee)
- Amount written in Number Format
- Amount written in Word Format
- Security Padlock
- Bank Branding and name
- Memo Field
- Signature Field
- Bank Routing Number
- Bank Account Number
#1. Your Personal Information
This include things like the name(s) of the account holders, address, phone number, etc.
#2. How to Write a Check: Date
Are dates just dates? This is the date that you authorize the transaction. As a general rule of thumb, checks can be honored for a period of up to 6 months. If you have an old check that you’d like to deposit or cash, then try contacting the person who wrote you the check for a new check. This could help to avoid bouncing a check and creating a hassle.
#3. Check Sequence/ Number
This is the numbered, sequential order of the check. For example, a checkbook of 50 checks will be individually numbered from 1-50. Use the check number to keep track of your transactions and to assist in the process of balancing your checkbook.
It is at the top and along the bottom in the MICR (Magnetic Ink Character Recognition) line, commonly furthest to the right, after your routing (#11) and account number (#12).
#4. How to Write a Check: Pay to the Order of (Payee)
Whomever you are writing out the check to! Person, or place of business, etc.
#5. How to Write a Check: Amount written in Number Format
Wondering how to write a check with cents? Or with no cents? This field is the full amount in terms of dollars and cents.
Example with cents: 96.95.
Example with no cents: 100.00.
#6. How to Write a Check: Amount written in Word Format
Continuing with the question of how to write a check with cents, this portion is the written amount in terms of dollars and cents. However, this is the full written amount with cents in fractional format.
Example with cents: “Ninety-six dollars and 95/100”
Example with no cents: “one hundred dollars and 00/100”
or “one hundred dollars and no cents” for cases where it is just whole dollars.
Note: You can strike a line through the rest of the open space on this line to help avoid fraudulent activity as well.
#7. Security Padlock
This “Enhanced Security Features padlock icon” is from the Check Payments Systems Association (CSPA). According to their website, this icon (visible on both sides of your check), is an “indication to all parties accepting checks that additional security features have been incorporated in the design of the check, the production process, or the materials being used.” Ultimately, this is a security measure aimed at combating fraudulent checks.
#8. Bank Branding and name
This is your bank, and sometimes contains the banks address as well. Various banks use different logos, etc. If your check has the specific branch you opened your account listed it can be helpful! I’ve looked at my personal check to get that exact location before when filling out various employment forms and paperwork, etc. Ideally, it should also contain the legal name of the bank which is also helpful in the same way.
#9. How to Write a Check: Memo Field
This is not required, but I’ve always tried to fill it out in order to add more context about what the check was for. Additionally, I’ve used this field to write things like “Happy Birthday” when giving money to family and friends.
Here are few more examples:
You could also use this to write your membership number or something like that when paying dues or fees for your specific account. I’ve also done this for mortgages as an extra effort to ensure the payment is applied to my account.
In addition, this field can direct the payment to a sub-loan if you want to target a higher-interest sub-loan (although, that should be a standard).
#10. How to Write a Check: Signature Field
This is important! Sign here to authorize the transaction. I’ve been told by our banker that this should ideally match the signature card you have on file, and it should be the full name as spelled on your check and account. Perhaps, consider this as a best-practice. For example, if your name on the account and check and signature card is John M. Doe, your signature should align accordingly.
#11. Bank Routing Number
This is your bank’s routing number. It is the left-most number on your check, along the bottom. It is public, and identifies the bank by numerical form courtesy of the American Bankers Association (ABA).
The ABA was developed in 1910, and according to the ABA the routing number “identifies the specific financial institution responsible for the payment of a negotiable instrument.”
The routing number is also part of the MICR (Magnetic Ink Character Recognition) line along with your account number (#12) and check number (#3).
#12. Bank Account Number
This is your account number and is unique to you. It is the second group of numbers in the MICR (Magnetic Ink Character Recognition) line along with your routing number (#11) and check number (#3). (Note, as mentioned in #3, your check number is also typed down here as well). If you ever need to reference your bank account number off a check take care to avoid including your check number in that sequence!
Another point to consider: Take care to avoid leaving checks/ cheques around as this will expose your information. In today’s day and age, so much information is available publicly, and privacy appears less and less important to some. However, I think it is prudent to keep your personal information as safe as possible.
Here are a few more posts that might interest you:
- Mint.com budgeting platform| My Honest Review
- 8 Ways to Save Money on Back to School Supplies
- How to Save Money on Gas with GetUpside App
- 5 Financial Commitment to Improve Your Love Life – A Valentine’s Day Post
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