Frequently asked questions about filling out checks

Since checks aren’t as common as they used to be, we’ll answer some of the most frequently asked questions here to help you feel confident every time you draw your checkbook.

Can you use a pencil to fill out a check?

If you need to write a check in a hurry, you may wonder if using a pencil instead of a pen is okay. Answer: It is possible to write a check in pencil, it is not a good idea. The pencil can be easily erased, and someone could change any details you have written. So that little check for a few dollars could be cashed into thousands of dollars, without altering your signature . To have a better protection against any fraud, it is important to use permanent ink whenever you write a check.

When should you use a check?

This depends, but today there are not so many scenarios where you have to pay with a check. However, there are still companies that do not allow credit or debit card payments , so a personal check may be the safest option.

On the other hand, sometimes writing a check can save you some money. Businesses must pay a fee for processing credit or debit card payments, so if you pay with a personal check, you may get a discount . While this may only be a percentage, it could add up to a few hundred dollars if you make a large purchase. We know that there are some credit cards that offer reward points, but you would need to spend a lot to accumulate equivalent savings.

Is it possible to write checks for yourself?

Although ATMs have made this a bit outdated method, it is still possible to write a check payable to you to get cash from your checking account or to move money between accounts.

If you live in an area where there are no ATMs, or if you don’t have one nearby, or if they charge too high a fee, you can write a check and endorse it by signing on the back. Just make sure to wait until you are at the bank before endorsing your check, because if you lose an endorsed check, someone could cash it and you end up losing money .

How is a check postdated?

As we mentioned earlier, it is not mandatory to use the current date on your check . In this vein, post-dating a check simply means that you use a future date on your check. This is usually because there isn’t enough money in your checking account to cover the amount, so the later date gives you time to get the additional funds for check processing.

In general, while you can post-date checks, it is not a good practice and should be avoided. Post-dated checks can be a sign that you are not managing your finances as well as you could or that you are spending more than you can afford. Additionally, payees are not required to accept post-dated checks, so you can run into problems, including fees for returned checks.

What if I make a mistake filling out a check?

It is important to avoid any mistakes whenever possible. We recommend that you always check your check for errors such as not signing, putting the wrong date, or entering different amounts in words and numbers. Any errors on your check that prevent or delay processing could cost you money. If your bank or business can’t process the payment, it could result in returned check fees, late fees, or other costs.

How do you write a voided check?

To process direct withdrawals, direct deposits, automatic bill payments, or other transactions, a business or employer may require a voided check. This helps ensure that they have access to the correct accounts and can process the transaction without making any mistakes.

Voiding a check is pretty easy to do. You only need to write “NULL” in very large letters in the middle of the check. You can also write null in other places on the check, as many times as you like to make it clear that it is no longer valid.

If you made a mistake filling out the check and need to void it, just do what we’ve instructed and then shred or tear it.

What alternatives to checks do I have?

Today, there are many alternatives to writing a check that can make your life easier.

  • Online bill pay. The Most banks allow you to set up electronic bill payment through your online interface. In this sense, payment is made electronically when possible, and in some cases they will print and mail a check.
  • Debit and credit cards. The most retailers accept debit and credit cards these days, which was unusual when the checks were the preferred method of payment.
  • Person-to-person payment services. These services (like VenmoPayPalZelle, Google Pay) allow you to send money to friends, family, or anyone else. They are often free, but sometimes there is a charge, so be sure to do your research before using them.
  • Of course, you can always use cash too , so don’t forget to ask for your receipt!