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How to write a check: Step-by-step guide

Blank check
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If you haven’t written one in a while (or ever), here is a handy guide on how to write a check.

picture of a check
Photo by Adobe Stock, Illustration by Bankrate

Steps to fill out a check

Many of us send money electronically these days. Every now and then, we may write physical checks to make a payment to a person or business. Here are the steps to write a check.

1. Fill in the date

Write the current date on the line at the top right-hand corner. This information will notify the financial institution and the recipient of exactly when you wrote it. You can write out the date completely or use all numbers. For example, 6/10/2020 or June 10, 2020.

2. Write the name of the payee

On the line that says “pay to the order of,” write the name of the individual or company you’d like to pay. Use the recipient’s full name instead of a nickname. If you’re making a check out to a company, verify the name of the business before writing it on the check.

If you don’t know the exact name, you can write the word “cash.” However, this can be a risky move because anyone can cash or deposit a check that’s made out to “cash.”

3. Write the check amount in numeric form

The check will contain two spots that will require you to state the amount you’re paying. First, write the numerical dollar amount in the small box on the right of the line for the recipient’s name. For example, you may write $100.30 if you wish to write a check for one hundred dollars and thirty cents. Make sure you write this clearly so that the bank can subtract the correct amount from your account.

4. Write the check amount in words

Next, you’ll need to write out the dollar amount in words to match the numerical amount you already wrote on the line below “pay to the order of.” Put the cent amount over 100. For example, if you wrote $100.30 in the box, you’ll write “one hundred and 30/100.” If the check is for $100 or another round number, you should still include 00/100 for extra clarity. When you write the dollar amount in words, you verify the total payment.

5. Write a memo

The memo section of the check is optional. However, it’s a good idea to fill it out because it can remind you of why you wrote the check. If you’re writing the check to pay your hairdresser for your haircut, for example, you can write “haircut.” In the event the check is for a certain bill, write your account number in the memo area.

A company may ask you to write your account number or invoice number in this section. This helps them apply the payment to your account.

6. Sign the check

Sign your name on the line at the bottom right hand corner of your check. Be sure to sign legibly and make sure you use the same signature that is on file at your bank. Your signature informs the bank that you agree to pay the stated amount to the payee you noted.

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Written by
Anna Baluch
Contributing writer
Anna Baluch is a former Bankrate contributing writer. She is a personal finance freelance writer from Cleveland who enjoys writing about debt, mortgages, student loans, personal loans and auto financing.
Edited by
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Reviewed by
Founder of Financial Staples