If you grew up in the millennial or Gen Z generations, you probably think of checks like cassette tapes: some people still use them, but by and large they’re a relic of a bygone era. These days, direct deposits, apps, and card payments rule most financial transactions. But sometimes, there are situations that call for writing checks or depositing them, so it helps to know how to deal with them.
Some of the important things to know include:
- How to write a check with cents
- How to sign over a check to someone else
- Can I write a check to myself?
- Can I deposit a check for someone else?
Let’s dive into these questions about writing checks!
How to write a check with cents
First of all, here’s what a check looks like for you to reference during these instructions:
Let’s go top to bottom to show how to write a check!
The “Date” line is self-explanatory—the date you’re writing the check. (
On the first blank line with “Pay to the order of,” in front, you’ll write the recipient’s name.
In the little box with the $ in front, you write the numerical amount you’re paying. This takes a normal dollars-and-cents format: “$99.99”.
The second blank line is where you need to know how to write a check with cents, because it’s a little different. You write the dollar amount as words (ninety-nine), and the cent amount as a fraction out of 100 (so, 99/100 for 99 cents).
All together, $99.99 on the second line of a check translates to “Ninety-nine and 99/100.”
Let’s make the numbers even bigger and do $150.25: “One hundred fifty and 25/100.”
Make it four digits with $1200.50: “One thousand two hundred and 50/100.”
Once you get used to writing a check with cents, it makes a lot of sense. Writing the cents as a fraction saves a lot of space compared to writing out “ninety-nine cents” as words.
Okay, let’s finish the check! At the bottom of the check, you’ll see a line that says “For” or “Memo”. This is optional to fill out. You can choose to write the purpose of the check, like “Rent” or “Toyota Camry,” but you don’t have to.
The last part of the check, next to the memo line, is the signature line. This is where you sign to authorize the payment.
How to sign over a check to someone else
What exactly does it mean to sign over a check? In short, it means you’re trying to transfer or pay someone with a check that someone else wrote to you.
As an example, say that you received a check for $500, and you owe your friend $500. You might decide it’s simpler to just sign that check over to them, instead of depositing the check in your account, waiting for it to clear, and then writing a brand-new check to them (or transferring the money another way).
So, how do you sign over a check to someone? Here are the steps:
- First, ask them to confirm that their bank will accept a signed-over check, as not all banks like to take them.
- Turn the check over to the back, where there will be a space that says “Endorse check here.”
- Put your signature in that area like normal
- Beneath your signature, write “Pay to the order of [name of person you’re paying]”
- Give them the check—all set!
Signing over a check isn’t difficult, so the most important part is just making sure your payee’s bank will accept the third-party check.
Can I write a check to myself?
If you have multiple bank accounts, you might wonder, can you write a check to yourself?
The short answer is that yes, you can.
How to write a check to yourself: all you have to do is fill it out like any other check, with your name in the Payee section. If you want to deposit it in another account, sign the back and write “For deposit only.” If you want to use the check to get cash, you could write “Cash” in the payee line (just make sure not to lose it, because this means anyone could cash it!).
However, most banks have better tools for moving money than writing a check to yourself. For instance, you could do an electronic bank transfer between your accounts. If you want cash, you could withdraw cash from an ATM using the debit card connected to your bank account.
But if writing a check to yourself is the best option for your situation, you can absolutely do that!
Can I deposit a check for someone else?
If you’re running errands and your partner needs a check deposited, is that possible? Can you deposit a check for someone else?
Yes! As long as the check payee is able to endorse the back with their signature, it shouldn’t be a problem. If they aren’t able to sign the back (e.g. they’re on a trip and need you to deposit the check), you can write “For deposit only” on the back before you take it to the bank. The teller shouldn’t have a problem depositing it into the payee’s account as long as the names match.
Checks still might not be your favorite method of payment, but if you have to use one, now you know how!
Kate is a writer and editor who runs her content and editorial businesses remotely while globetrotting as a digital nomad. So far, her laptop has accompanied her to New Zealand, Asia, and around the U.S. (mostly thanks to credit card points). Years of research and ghostwriting on personal finance led her to the FI community and co-founding DollarSanity. In addition to traveling and outdoor adventure, Kate is passionate about financial literacy, compound interest, and pristine grammar.