Understanding the parts of a check – TBEN


Although checks are less frequently used in the digital age of payment apps and automated bill payment, they can still be a convenient method for making official payments or sending money by mail. You can also use them to find information like your bank routing number and checking account number, which you’ll need for certain transactions, like setting up direct deposit or logging into a payment app like Venmo. Here are the different parts of a check to know when filling out or depositing a check.

1. Your information

In the upper left corner of your check, you will usually find the name and address that you registered with your bank. If you have moved and no longer live at that address, you should still be able to use checks as long as your account number has remained the same.

2. Check number

Located in the upper and lower right corners of the check, the check number is used for tracking. For example, if your checkbook is stolen, you can report to the bank which numbered checks have been withdrawn (for example, checks numbered 1 to 100), so that the bank can identify fraudulent check withdrawals.

Frequently Asked Questions

3. The date

4. The name of the recipient

The top long line in the middle of the check, usually preceded by “pay to the order of,” is where you write the recipient’s name. The recipient can be a person or an organization.

You can also pay to the order “Cash” which means anyone can cash the check. This option can be useful if you don’t know the name of the payee, but you have no control over who is cashing the check. generally a better idea to write the name of a specific recipient.

5. The payment amount

There are two places on the check where you will write the payment amount. The first is in the box in the middle of the right side, just after the beneficiary’s name, where you will write the amount numerically (for example, “$ 50.50”). The second is on the long line under the recipient’s name, where you write the amount in words (for example, “Fifty and fifty cents” or “Fifty and 50/100”). This helps the bank to clarify the total amount in case the words or numbers are difficult to decipher.

6. Memo line

Completing this line in the lower left corner is optional but recommended. You can write something like “June rent” or “summer camp fee”. It helps your payee know what the check is for and can help you remember what it was for when you review your finances later.

7. Bank name

In this area, you will usually find the logo and / or address of your bank.

8-9. Routing and account number

At the bottom of the check, you will see a string of numbers. You will need to refer to these numbers when performing tasks like setting up direct deposit or ordering checks.

Bank routing number

The first set of digits is the routing number, which is your bank’s identity within the banking system (and usually indicates regional location as well).

Account number

The second set of digits is your account number, for the account from which the funds will be withdrawn; it’s unique to your account.

10. Signature

In the lower right corner of the front of a check, there is a blank line that you must sign. This signature indicates that you have authorized the withdrawal of funds from your account.

How to endorse a check you received from someone else

If you are returning a check that you received, you will see a blank line on the reverse side at the top of one of the short ends. When you’re ready to deposit a check through an ATM, ATM, or mobile banking app, sign your name on the blank line. This indicates that you are the intended recipient and that you have authorized the deposit.

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