Check Writing Rules

Whether you’re just beginning to manage a checkbook or you've been doing it for years, you must be aware of current regulations. Here are some basic rules you should know when it comes to writing checks.

Use a Pen

Do not use a pencil, not even a colored one. Your writing can be erased. Gel pens work better than ballpoints because the writing doesn’t totally disappear when it comes in contact with liquids used to remove ink.

Write the Correct Date

Most banks say they won’t cash checks that are more than 6 months old. In reality, bank equipment does not read dates, so banks reserve the right to pay those checks.

Request Stop Payments When Necessary

If you think a check is lost or you do not want it cashed, issue a Stop Payment order through your bank. You will most likely pay a fee for this service.

Be Careful if You Post-Date

A check is negotiable when written, and bank tellers don’t always note the date. If you don’t have the money in your account, you can ask the payee to wait before cashing it but, if he doesn't, you will be liable for insufficient funds charges.

Prevent Changes in Amounts

Draw a line to fill the space after writing the amount; this prevents additional zeros from being added.

Avoid Bounced Checks

Balance your checkbook when the statement comes. This way you can be sure that you have enough money in your account to cover any checks you write.