Fact: checking accounts aren’t always about checks. You can also use them to make automated payments and receive direct deposits. These transactions give you more control over your withdrawals and deposits, as well as give you peace of mind by simplifying your finances.
Most of the time, you can set up automated online transactions. But there are times when you have to fill out some paperwork and present a voided check.
Voided checks carry your bank account information. Anyone who requests a voided check can use those details to set up an electronic link to your bank account. But apart from setting up an account, do voided checks have other uses?
Voided checks are part of any business owner’s financial strategy. Before we discuss when you can use your voided checks, how to write them and other basic details involved with your voided check.
First: What is a Voided Check?
The word void check refers to a check that is voided, as indicated by the word “VOID” written across the paper check (often in bold letters). As mentioned, they contain details about the check holder, such as the name of the person for whom the check was created for or the payee. The word “VOID” makes it impossible for banks and other financial institutions to process the payment.
The notation of “void” is necessary, since all checks need to be accounted for. Plus, they are pre-numbered for control purposes.
Second: When Do You Need Voided Checks?
So, when do you void a check? You can’t cash them, deposit them or even fill them in. This may make them useless, but voided checks have a specific purpose, which is to simplify the secure sharing of banking information.
In most cases, you should keep your banking details private to protect yourself from identity theft and fraud. Avoid leaving your blank checks, checkbooks and copies of your checks to prevent other people from using them.
But when you need to give your banking information to another person for a legitimate reason, a voided check is handy. Instead of copying your account number and your bank’s routing number from the bottom of your check onto a form. This reduces your margin for error, as well as the number of paperwork you have to fill. The person receiving the voided check can use the information to set up your account’s electronic transactions.
You want to void a check to:
- Set up auto-pay or direct deposit. If you want to set up a direct deposit with your employers, you’ll need a copy of a voided check. Although your HR department may ask you to provide your account number and bank routing number on a form, they may also require a voided check. This helps your employer easily expense reimbursements or direct paychecks.
- Set up automatic electronic bill payments. Most automatic payment systems require you to void a check. You can use a voided check to set up auto-pay for utility bills, rent or phone bills. If you choose to use direct debit from your bank account, a voided check is also necessary. The extra savings can also make the additional effort worth your while. For instance, insurers offer big discounts if you make automatic payments.
- Set up automated loan payments. Most often, you’ll need to void a check to set up automated loan payments such as an auto loan, a student loan or mortgage payments. You can also earn a better rate by automating your payments to make the effort of auto-pay set-ups worth your while.
- Authorize government agencies to directly deposit your benefits. Similar to your direct-to-deposit paychecks, set up a direct deposit and have government offices send benefit payments directly to your account. For federal benefits, you don’t have to pay additional charges for direct deposits. In fact, you can have the IRS directly deposit your tax refunds.
Third: How to Write a Voided Check
Voiding checks are fairly simple but if you’re not careful, you could make a checking mistake. If you do make a mistake filling it out, don’t shred or throw away your voided check. Checks are sequentially numbered, so if you destroy the check instead of marking it “VOID,” you may forget that you didn’t use that check.
To void a check, write the word “VOID” across the check in large letters. The letters should be wide enough and tall enough to cover the entire paper check. But avoid covering the numbers at the bottom of your check. The recipient needs the numbers to link with your bank account. Use a fine-tipped marker or a pen so that no one can erase the word “VOID.”
Once you’ve voided the check, keep records. Make a note of it in your check register, so you’ll remember where all the checks go. If you don’t, you may experience a gap in check numbers, which can cause confusion in the future. Instead of wondering when the money will hit your account or if you wrote a large check and forgot, keep records of voided checks, including the reason you voided them.
Once you’ve recorded the check, send it. If you’re going to send a voided check electronically, send them via a standard email message. Practice caution by hiding your account’s information from hackers and thieves. Upload the image to a secure file vault or encrypt the image.
Finally: What If You Don’t Have Any Checks?
Is it possible to void a check if you don’t have any checks? Yes!
When you want to void a check minus the actual checks, you have to get creative. Instead of a voided check, you can use:
- A voided counter check. This is also a blank paper check similar to the starter or temporary checks that you received when you opened your account. If your credit union or bank offers counter checks, request one at any of their locations.
- A direct deposit authorization form. When you use this form, be careful to not make any mistakes when filling out your account number or your bank’s routing number.
- A photocopy of a deposit slips or check for your account.
- A deposit slip with your banking details already printed on it. Your check supply may already include printed deposit slips.
The option you choose depends on what your credit union or bank offers, your personal preferences and what your recipient needs.
You also have other options beyond the checks. If you’re not up for waiting for checks or using the options suggested above, there are alternative ways to link your bank account.
- Online options. Check if you can set up your bank account link online. Instead of using forms, which require the use of voided checks, log into your bank account. In most cases, you have to provide all of your bank account details on the form.
- Check printers. Another creative solution is to have a check printer create an image of a voided check. This method is not advisable if you plan to mail the check but it can give you an electronic image of a check with your account’s information. Process the ordering checks first and when you can preview your order, you’ll have a customized check image for voiding.
- Deposit slips. You can also set up withdrawal or deposit instructions using a deposit slip instead of using a voided check. Pre-printed deposit slips may also be required but these aren’t the blank checks that you can get at the bank. Most pre-printed slips are available in the back of your checkbook.
- Other documents. If all else fails, you’ll need official documentation from your credit union or bank. Ask for a letter that lists your routing number, account type (savings or checking) and account number. Some banks provide letters for direct deposit. You can also use these when you’re logging into your online banking system.
Voided checks are useful, especially for your business’s growth. But you can’t use them always. Consider when to use these checks and when using them, be careful with filing them up and sending them. Spare yourself from financial stress get in touch with your local credit union or bank to learn more.