The world is slowly going digital, and there seem to be fewer reasons for any individual to know how to write a check. Why would anyone need that information when they can use their debit or credit cards to make payments, carry out their transactions online, or even now, with the invention of the crypt technology, transfer digital coins in return for a purchase?
Still, certain payments require an individual to write a check or two. As a result, checks remain one of the most inexpensive means to move your money from your account to another account or even another individual, especially in cases where large amounts of money are involved.
The paper check process is simple and not complicated, and the first step to writing a check is to understand the small details that make up the check.
Basic Information Found on a Check
Like any financial transaction, some lines require filling. These lines should contain specific information about the payer/owner of the account and the receiver of the payment.
Here is a blank template that will help you understand the position of the information given below in the check:
The required information includes:
Name: The name required must be the name belonging to or associated with the receiver of the payment being made. The receiver could be an individual or an organization with a bank account to receive payment. This name must be written in full and correctly spelled. In the case of a business, it is advisable to verify the name before writing.
Check number: They are the last set of numbers and the shortest set of numbers that can be found printed on a check. They are usually about 3-4 digits long and indicate the number of the check being written. It can be found at the top right corner of the paper check. Check number appears two times on a check, first at no 2 and then at no 10.
Date: The slot should indicate the actual date the check was signed. For some checks, the dates are written for a date in the future, known as post-dated checks. But the check still stands as binding as long as the signature is provided.
Purpose of payment: This contains the reason for the payment. It could be for monthly rent, or as monthly or weekly salaries.
Amount in words or number: The amount to be paid should be indicated in full in words in the indicated slot. For example, if the check is for $33,000, the amount would be written as “Thirty-three Thousand Dollars”. The amount in words should also be written in full, including any amount in cents if available.
Bank/company name: This indicates the company’s name or the individual’s bank making the check payment.
Memo: This can be optional and should contain any additional information on check that the bank or receiver must know.
Routing number: The first set of numbers in the lower-left corner of the check is the bank routing number. They are usually a nine-digit number, and they indicate the financial institution associated with the payer’s account.
Account number: These are the most extended set of numbers found on the check. The account number belongs to the payer and is given by the financial institution they patronize.
Signature: The slot should contain the signature of the payer. This signature should be the same used on other legal or financial documents.
How to Fill a Check
Fill the check as indicated in the template by following the steps provided below:
Step 1: First is the name of the individual, school or association, receiving the check. The name must be clearly and correctly written to avoid problems with cashing the check.
Step 2: Write the amount to be paid in numbers; this must include the entire amount paid, in both dollars and cents. It must be written correctly.
Step 3: Write the amount to be paid in words. This must be the same as the amount written in numbers. It must be clear and correct.
Step 4: Write the date. It should be the date the check is being written, and sometimes it could be the date the check is to be cashed.
Step 5: Note the check number, just as said earlier, is a 4-digit long number that appears in two different places on a check, and is basically the identification number of that check. Noting and recording the number helps to keep track of payments made with checks.
Step 6: The next thing is to fill the memo or the purpose of the payment slot on the check. This should contain the reason for payment or any other additional information.
Step 7: This is the final but most crucial step of the check-filling process. Without the signature, the check cannot be cashed, and it becomes void automatically.
Types of Checks
The truth is that in the professional world, an individual may come across several types of checks. Therefore, it becomes the individual’s job to identify and differentiate between these checks and determine what they represent.
The following are the types of paper check templates that can be written or received:
Bearer check: This type of check is one where the payment is made to the individual carrying the check. In this check, the bearer section is either marked or canceled, so banks require no other authorization to pay cash. However, this method of writing checks is usually unsafe, as the check, if lost or stolen, can be cashed by anyone.
Order check: Provided on every check is a slot where the name of the individual to receive the payment is to be included, either written or printed. If the section ‘or bearer’ (which represents the bearer of the check which might or might not be the payee/receiver of the check) is canceled or marked, then the check becomes an order check. The check can then only be cashed by the payee or receiver whose name is printed or written on the check.
Crossed check: A crossed check is a marked check – usually with two parallel lines drawn or printed- with specific instructions on how the check is to be paid. The universal way of paying crossed check is into the bank account of the receiver.
Open check: If a check is not crossed or imprinted with parallel lines and can be cashed by the receiver, the check is known as an open check.
Anti-dated check: A check cashed earlier than the date written on the check becomes an anti-dated check. Usually, this type of check is cashed within three months, which becomes invalid after those three months.
Stale check: A check that has not been presented at the bank to be cashed after a three-month duration has passed since the date written on the check is known as a stale check.
Advantages of Paper Checks
Although there are no real advantages when using paper checks, considering the existence of digital payment platforms, there are multiple reasons why people prefer using them. Some of them are:
When it comes to proper management and security of funds leaving an organization, paper checks are still the safest route to go. With check payments, it is easier to keep a physical record of payments and make proper cash flow statements, and so they are used mainly by smaller organizations for these purposes. Also, paper checks are better for organizations that don’t accept any other forms of payment. For cash payment, paper checks make it easier to be carried out. The check written in the name of the receiver/payee can be presented at the bank for payment.
With other payment platforms, there’s usually a specific fee attached to their transaction called the transaction fee. For organizations that use paper checks, the route is cheaper as it requires no extra fees. Although a money order is an appropriate way of carrying out a money transfer, charges might make payment more expensive. Paper checks are cost-free and better than other means.
Useless for thieves
When a name is written on a check, it means the check can only be cashed by the individual bearing that name. If lost or stolen, anyone who isn’t bearing such a name would not cash the check. Without a signature from the account holder, a stolen check or checkbook is practically useless to a thief. Which means the route is safer and more secure.
Best way to keep a record
Paper checks are an excellent way to retain a firm or organization’s record of payments. Checks can have carbon copies made as proof of payment, and that’s why most firms use them. Likewise, recording payments is an excellent way to show proof of a payment or transaction made.
In the case of a lost or stolen checkbook, the account holder can report to the bank and request that all payments through checks be stopped. Once requested, payment by check through the holder’s account is prohibited immediately.
Free Check Templates
A check template comes in many basic forms which might not be quite easy to design. Fortunately, there are online sites where you can get these templates. But we will provide some here for you to download so as to ensure easy accessibility.
Also, it would be easier for you to select the right one for you since you now have basic knowledge of a check. After choosing your desired check template, all you have to do is to customize it to uniquely represent your brand or organization.
Alternative to Checks
When a check is not required, there are other forms of paying money.
Pay bills online: Transactions between payer and receiver can be carried out online with the help of bank apps or sites. The process is easy but might require an internet connection, a smart device, and a unique code to carry out transactions.
Get a debit card: A debit card is a portable electronic card linked to the holder’s account to make payment for this purchase and pay bills. It can also hold an electronic record of transactions carried out. A debit card can be carried about and used quickly with just a swipe of the card.
Automatic payments: Regular payments, including; utility bills and insurance bills, can be set up for automatic payments via the bank. This is an easy way of paying bills, as long as the cash required is present in the bank.
Record the Payment in the Check Register
Most organizations that make use of paper checks usually need to keep a record of their payment. A check register is used to keep these records. Check registers can be in paper form or electronic form. This record helps prevent the firm from making double payments or tracking spending to prevent bounced checks since money will remain in the account until the receiver cashes the check.
It is usually best to record check payments when it has just been made, and this way, mistakes can be avoided. Recording payment in a check register is an easy way to discover frauds or criminal activity against a checking account, or a way to what money went to whom and for what.
With online transactions, an individual might be required to apply for a statement of account and wait a while before receiving it if the need arises to balance his accounts. Check payments recorded on registers, allowing for easy balancing of accounts. Account balancing is a process that involves double-checking payments to see if there are any mistakes, or if an issued check has not been cashed.
Every transaction can be verified to ensure that money in the bank tallies with money put there. Electronic check registers provide an alternative as check payments registered are automatically deducted, and money is assumed to be gone.
Effective Practices for Writing a Check
When writing a check template or filling one, the following must be considered:
- Ensure that all the details are spelled correctly. A single misspelling could render a check void if presented to the bank.
- Avoid making errors, and remember to write ‘void’ on a check that contains an error before writing a new one. If a payer makes a mistake and throws a check away carelessly after signing it, the check can be picked up and used by a random person.
- Write down details as neatly as possible. Writing should be clear so that bankers at the bank can identify the details written on checks.
- If possible, make use of prints instead of writing a check by hand to be more apparent. In addition, printing means less room for mistakes or cases where the receiver or banker cannot see the written details.
- Double-check all the added information to make sure they are correct. This is to prevent future problems when the check is to be cashed.
Using a paper check template is an easy way to make a payment. Most organizations prefer going this route when paying their employees, and some individuals use paper checks to pay their rent or their bills. However, the most significant advantage of using paper checks is that it helps maintain a physical record of payments.
You must ensure to use paper checks the way they are meant to be used, and the only way to do that is by knowing what type of check is being used. Thieves can also come across written checks since they are only made of paper. Thus, there are many opportunities for a check to go missing or stolen.
Although most checks can only be cashed by the bearer of the name written on the check, it is still vital to avoid misplacing or losing these checks. Paper checks are also secure and straightforward to use as long as all the steps are followed when writing them. If appropriately filled, the right amount mentioned on the check template will be paid to the expected person without any problems.