How To Read A Check

Figuring out how to read a check is important if you want to handle your financial matters, such as setting up online billpay, by yourself. Whether you're a young person or a new English learner, a check can seem confusing or intimidating. However, with a little knowledge, you can learn to interpret the information on checks quickly and easily.

Personal Or Company Information And Bank Information
In the top left-hand corner of the check is the name of the person or the institution who issued the check to you. Their name will appear along with the address and sometimes their phone number. This information is helpful because you can get in touch with the person or company if there is a problem with the check.

Toward the middle or the top right corner of the check there will be the bank information. This will include the name and the address of the bank that created the check. It will be where your bank will withdraw money from in order to cash the check.

Date And Payment Information
The other important parts of the check are the date and payment information. In the upper left-hand corner there should be a line where the issuer has written the date. The check cannot be cashed until that date. If you try to cash the check before that date, the check will in most cases be returned. Always be sure to check the date of a check before you try to cash it.

Your name will appear on the Payee line. You cannot cash checks unless they are addressed to you. In some cases, an issuer will make the check to "CASH." When a check is made out to "CASH," you will still be able to cash the check, which is why you need to use this option as little as possible. Otherwise, someone you don't know might get the check and withdraw your money.

The payment information will also appear in the center of the check underneath the payee information. The payment amount will appear in numerical form and written out as words. Be sure that the two payment numbers match.

The issuer will have signed or stamped (in the case of some companies) their name at the bottom of the check. The check must be signed in order to be processed by your bank.

Check Processing Information
In addition to the information that the issuer fills out on the check, other numbers on the check are important for check processing. The numbers printed on the bottom of the check are all significant. If they are somehow blurred or missing, the check can't be cashed.

The first set of numbers on the check is the bank account number of the person or institution who issued the check. This will help your bank collect the money when the check deposits. The other set of numbers is the routing number, which is an important sequence of numbers that is unique to each bank. If your bank has the account number and the routing number, they can cash the check successfully.

Money orders are a similar form of payment you may also receive on occasion, and it is important to make sure the sender understands how to fill out a money order correctly. Otherwise, there may be problems with cashing or depositing the money order.

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