How to write a cheque

If you don’t know how to write a cheque already, that’s probably because it’s a dying art. But, now and then, the need arises. So here’s a simple guide to help you make sure you can write a cheque without making a mistake that would make it unusable.

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Hand writing a cheque

Why you need to know how to write a cheque

Cheques aren’t the most popular way of paying for things these days. But knowing how to write a cheque remains a worthwhile skill to have. What if you need to use a cheque to pay a bill? Or what if you want to send someone money in a card for their birthday, but don’t want to post cash? In those situations, knowing how to write a cheque can be handy. 

What is a cheque?

A cheque is a way of paying for things.

Essentially, you fill out a special ‘form’ called a cheque. This orders your bank to pay a specific amount of money to someone else. Once filled out, a cheque is a legal document.

How to write a cheque, UK wide

When it comes to how to write a cheque, UK residents will need to include the same information every time to make sure it goes through.

On your cheque, you’ll need to include: 

  • The payee's name (the payee is the person you’re paying)

  • The date (usually today’s, but it might not be)

  • The amount you’re paying – written out in words

  • The amount you’re paying – written out in numbers

  • Your signature.

How to fill out a cheque

Follow these simple steps and you’ll learn how to fill out a cheque in no time. 

Don’t forget that you should always use permanent pen when filling out a cheque. Never use pencil or erasable ink. This prevents anyone from changing the details once you’ve passed it on.

The other thing to remember is that if you make a mistake when you’re writing a cheque, it’s usually best to void it and start again. Although some people cross it out and add their initials, this can lead to the bank refusing it as it can look suspicious.

Here’s how to write a cheque, UK wide. The process is the same, regardless of who you bank with.

Write the payee’s name

You’ll need to write the payee's name as it appears on their bank account.

If you’re making the cheque out to an individual, you’ll need to make sure their surname is included. For example, you’d usually write ‘Martin Lane’, but you’ll also get away with ‘M Lane’.

Remember that if you write a cheque to joint names, it’ll have to be paid into a joint bank account.

If you’re paying a company, it’s important to find out exactly how you should write their business' name on the cheque. This information is likely to be on your bill, statement or invoice.

Write the date

The date is usually the day you’re writing the cheque. You’ll need to include the day, month and year, so there’s no room for confusion

You can also choose to post-date your cheque by writing a date in the future. This will prevent the recipient from cashing it until that date. This can be helpful if you’re waiting for money to go into your account. You could also post-date it if you’re giving someone money for their birthday.

Cheques don’t expire. However, some banks reject cheques that are over six months old.

Write the amount you’re paying – in words

You’ll need to write the amount in full, followed by the word ‘ONLY’. This stops anyone from being able to amend the amount written on your cheque.

For example, £56.23 would be written as: Fifty-Six Pounds and Twenty-Three Pence Only.

It’s also common practice to draw a line through the rest of the amount box after the word ONLY.

Write the amount you’re paying – in numbers

There’s a small box on the right-hand side where you need to write the amount you’re paying in numbers, including pounds and pence. The amount in here must match the amount you’ve written in words.

You have to write the amount in both letters and numbers for your cheque to be valid. And you should write the first digit close to the pound sign. These steps help minimise the risk of fraud and confusion.

Add your signature

Finally, you’ll need to sign your cheque in the space in the bottom right-hand corner. 

This signature must match the signature on record with your bank, or your cheque will bounce. If you don’t sign the cheque, it won’t be valid and will be rejected.

Fill out the memo section (if you want)

This step’s optional, but it’s a good way to help you stay on top of how much you’ve spent and how. 

When you tear a cheque out of your cheque book, you’ll leave behind a memo stub. On here, you can make a note of how much the cheque was for, what date it was for and who it was made out to.

The importance of knowing how to fill in a cheque, UK wide

If you fill out a cheque but you do it incorrectly, it could bounce.

By learning exactly how to fill in a cheque, UK residents can make sure their payment goes through as planned. It’s a simple process, and could save you the hassle and embarrassment of your cheque bouncing. 

What else you need to know about cheques

So what happens after you have written your cheque and given it to the payee? Here’s how cheque clearing works and how long it takes.

It is always worth checking that you have the right current account for your needs, too. You can switch your current account in just 7 days. Take a look at the best current accounts on the market to find the one that is right for you.

And, if you don’t feel a cheque is the right payment method for you to use at any point, here’s how to use internet banking to send money instead of writing a cheque.

New bank accounts are offered all the time, so compare all of the best options to make sure you get the right one for you.