When cash isn’t convenient, and a credit card isn’t possible, writing a check is often a convenient and satisfactory method of purchasing goods or services. A check is a promissory note guaranteeing funds availability and designates a specific person or entity to whom the funds are payable.
Familiarity with the entries on a check ease discomfort and speed the check-writing process:
Pay to the order of: The “payee”-to whom the check is written. Ensure proper spelling and name form-capitalize when appropriate or use all capital letters. If writing the check to yourself, and you’ll be cashing it, write the word “Cash” on the payee line. Financial institutions recommend entering a solid line from the end of the payee name to the end of the payee line to reduce the possibility of the payee information being changed in case of a lost or stolen check.
Date: The date when the check is written. Not all banks honor such additional entries as “postdated until” and “do not deposit until” or “void until.” Make certain the check will be honored and have sufficient funds to cover the amount.
Numerical amount: How much is being paid to the payee on that check. The first entry is a numerical entry designating the currency transaction. A sample entry might be “$15.98”-noting the currency type (the dollar sign) and the numerical amount.
Written amount: As a safeguard against unauthorized changes to the numerical amount, on the long blank line below the “payee” line, write out the amount payable. Most financial institutions recommend using a “dollars last” format on this line. For example, the numerical entry of $15.98 would be written as “Fifteen and 98/100 dollars,” with the currency designation at the end. Add the line from the last written word to the end of the space.
Signature: The authorized signature of the account holder or authorized agent. The signature should match the one on file with the issuing bank.
Never sign a check until ready to actually issue or deliver it. If the check is made payable to “Cash,” presigning is particularly dangerous. Anyone who finds or steals the check can cash it. Sign at the counter or drive-up window only.
Never leave the payee line or the amount blanks empty when using the check to pay a bill or debt.
Always immediately note in the check register the check number, payee, amount, and date of the check. Correctly subtract the amount from the available balance.
Federal Deposit Insurance Company; FDIC Consumer News-Spring 2000; “Paper or Plastic,” found at: http://www.fdic.gov/consumers/consumer/news/cnspr00/cvrstry.html
US Department of the Treasury, FAQs: Currency; found at: http://www.ustreas.gov/education/faq/currency/legal-tender.shtml
Bank of America, Customer Service; 1-800-432-1000; http://www.bankofamerica.com/