How to Write a Check With Cents, And Other Check Qs You’re Afraid To Ask

Coins, Pennies, Money, Currency, Cash, Finance, Banking

We’ve got the answers to your biggest questions about check writing.

If you’ve never written a check before, or if it’s been years since you did, this guide is for you. It’s time to overcome your apprehension about writing checks

This comprehensive guide will answer all of your questions about checks and their usage, from “What is a check?” to “How do I sign my name on the back of a check?”. Along the way, we’ll talk about what checks are made out of and how you can get started with this important form of payment.

What is a check, and what does it do?

A check is a written document in which you instruct the bank to make an electronic funds transfer or debit from your account. You write a check and sign it, which records your identity and that this transaction is between the two of you. 

It’s similar to sending someone a quick note stating that you want this money transferred into their account, but it involves more accountability and security for both parties involved.

The bank compares your account information to what it has on file from when you opened your account. The routing number is then used to send an electronic message instructing their computers to transfer money from one account to another. Checks are used in nearly every financial transaction, whether it’s an online payment or a cash purchase at a store.

When do I use checks?

There are many different situations where you may need to use a check.

For example, if you want to pay a bill by mail or make an online payment from your bank account. You can also write out a check as a way of making payments in-person (e.g., getting money back after paying for items at the store) or just to split the dinner bill with your friends.

How do I get started writing checks?

First, you’ll need to have a checking account with your bank. Once that’s set up, just write the check out as if it were any other document and then sign at the bottom of the page where it says “For Deposit Only” (exact wording may vary depending on your bank).

How do I write a check?

Writing out checks is pretty straightforward, but you should follow some crucial rules to make sure that they’re processed smoothly every time. 

First of all, always start by filling in the payee’s name and address on line 1 (e.g., “Steve Jones”). Then you can fill in the date, followed by your name and address, on line 2. 

Note: Usually, your name and address are already printed on your checks, but in the slight chance it is not, you can handwrite them here. 

After that, write out how much money you want to pay from your account using words like “Twenty Dollars” or “$20.00”. You don’t need to write out the dollar sign ($) when you’re writing numbers in total, but it’s not wrong if you do so anyway (e.g., $25). If your check is for a certain amount of money and there are cents included on that line, then always put them on their own line (e.g., “$25.00”).

Finally, sign it with your signature on the last line. If you have a stamp with your signature on it, then that’s perfectly fine to use instead of writing out your name by hand each time.

How to write a check with cents?

If you need to make a check with cents, like $421.41, for example, you will have to write out the total as a word and use the decimal point. In this case, “four hundred twenty-one and 41/100” would work here. The following guidelines will help you fill out the amount correctly and avoid confusion:

  • For amounts with no decimal point, write out the total as a word. For example, $73 would be “seventy-three dollars.”
  • For amounts with decimal points, include the total as a number and place the decimal point between whole numbers. Write out cents using words instead of numerals (e.g., 45¢ would be “forty-five”). Don’t use commas to separate thousands from hundreds or hundreds from tens—write them as a single number.

Who should sign the back of my check?

The person who’s receiving the check endorses the back by signing it.

This is called endorsing the check and can be done by anyone physically present at the time of the transaction (e.g., if you’re buying something in person). If this isn’t possible, then any authorized user of your account may do so on your behalf as long as they have legal access to sign checks for your account.

What do I write in the memo?

The memo is a section where you can let someone know what your check’s specifically for. For example, if it’s a donation to a specific charity or an item bought from a particular store. This helps prevent any confusion about why this payment is being made and ensures that the money doesn’t get accidentally sent to someone else. For example, you could write “September rent”, or “charity donation”, in this section. 

How should I write out the amount?

When writing checks, there are some basic guidelines that you can follow to prevent any confusion over how exactly the total should be written down. Here’s a quick overview of what you need to know: 

  • For numbers with no dollar signs, write out the number as a word. For example, $12 would be “twelve dollars.”
  • When writing checks to express specific amounts of money (e.g., for exact purchases), use words instead of numerals while including cents in their own line. If your check is made out for a certain amount of money and there are cents included on that line, then always put them in their own line (e.g., “$25.00”).
  • For amounts with no decimal point, write out the total as a word. For example, $73 would be “seventy-three dollars.” 
  • When writing checks for large numbers (e.g., for businesses), put dollar signs before all numbers except zeros (e.g., $12,000).

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What information goes on a check?

In addition to your name, the bank’s routing number and account number for each checking account will need to be written on the front of every check, as well as some other additional pieces of information that you’ll see depending on who wrote out the check (e.g., company payee names and addresses) and its specific purpose.

What is the difference between a business and a personal check?

Business checks are often more extensive than personal ones since they have more space for additional information. They also don’t feature designs or colors that might show off your personality. 

For example, you’ll likely notice that many businesses use black ink when writing out their payee name instead of the bright blue that you might see on a check issued by your account.

What is the difference between a check and cash?

The most significant differences are that checks aren’t as flexible (you can only use them for specific transactions). In contrast, cash is easy to spend on anything you want, including bills or debts. Checks also take longer than using cash since they first need to be deposited before funds become available in your account.

What is a post-dated check?

A bank will consider a check as “post-dated” if it has a date in the future. A lender may refuse to process checks that have dates set for after your next payment is due, or decisions about whether or not to accept them could be made on a case-by-case basis depending on the situation.

What is a stale-dated check?

A bank will consider a check as “stale dated” if it has an invalid date (e.g., January 31, 2012). A lender may refuse to process checks that have these kinds of dates, and decisions about whether or not they’re allowed could be made on a case-by-case basis.

What is a stopped check?

A “stopped check” has been marked by the bank that issued it as insufficient or invalid. This could occur if there are insufficient funds to cover the entire amount of a check, for example. 

If someone tries to deposit a check that’s been marked as invalid and they’ve already received payment from you or your bank account doesn’t have the necessary funds in it, their deposited money will be returned to them, and you’ll have to make up the difference. The lender may refuse to process checks with these markings, and whether or not they are permitted may be decided on a case-by-case basis.

What should I do if my check is lost or stolen?

First, you’ll need to report the loss by calling your bank immediately and submitting a replacement request in person at their local branch office. If it’s been endorsed already (e.g., for cashing), any additional endorsements made on that particular check will also be voided.

How long does it take for a check to clear?

It depends on who wrote the check and their bank’s policies, but most checks are processed within five business days once deposited into your account or cashed at another institution. However, if you need faster funds, be sure to put in requests with the payee or your bank to see if it’s available sooner.

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