Writing out paper checks is less common these days, as more people manage their finances online and opt for electronic checks instead. For instance, 55% of Americans say they prefer to pay bills online. And nearly 93% of Americans are paid via direct deposit, rather than with a physical paycheck.

Setting up those types of transactions means mastering a fairly simple financial skill: voiding a check. If you don’t know how to do it, read on.

Key Takeaways

  • A voided check may be necessary to set up direct deposits, automated clearing house (ACH) transfers, or electronic bill payments.
  • Voiding a check means it can’t be used to make a payment or otherwise withdraw money from your checking account.
  • The process for voiding a check is very simple.
  • If you don’t have checks, there are other steps you can take to set up direct deposit or electronic payments.

How to Void a Check

Voiding a check isn’t that difficult. Here’s what you have to do, step by step:

  • First, get a blue or black pen.
  • Next, write “VOID” in large letters across the front of the check, or write “VOID” in smaller letters on the date line, payee line, amount line, and signature line, as well as in the amount box.
  • Make a copy of the voided check for your records and note the check number in your register if you keep one.

That’s really all there is to it. Once you’ve voided the check, it can no longer be used to make payments.

Voided Check
Example of a voided check. Justin Pritchard

Don’t cover up the routing or bank account number at the bottom of the check when voiding it, as those numbers are necessary for identifying your bank account to send or receive payments.

Reasons for Voiding a Check

There are several scenarios in which you might need to void a check, some of which have already been mentioned. To recap, here are the most common scenarios in which you may need to know how to void a check.

  • To set up direct payments. Voiding a check may be necessary if you want to schedule electronic payments, either for personal use or if you run a business. For example, if you have a business and your vendors prefer to be paid electronically, then voiding a check may be part of the process to set up automatic payments.
  • For direct deposit. Direct deposit can help you get paid faster, but your employer needs certain information from you to get it started, including your bank account number and bank routing number. Voiding a check is a simple way to provide those details.
  • Regular bill payments. If you want to pay your mortgage, car loan, or other bills online, then you may have to submit a voided check to schedule payments from your checking account.

Keep in mind that voiding a check may also be necessary if you’re writing a check and make a mistake. For example, if you write the wrong dollar amount, then you’d have to void the check to keep the person or business you write it out to from cashing or depositing it.

It’s important to note that you can’t void a check once you’ve given it to the payee. At that point the only way to stop the check from being cashed or deposited is to request a stop payment from your bank, which may involve a fee.

You can’t void a check once you’ve given it to the payee.

If You Don’t Have Checks

Not every checking account offers checks. Chase, for example, is one of the larger banks offering checkless checking. These types of accounts may appeal to unbanked and underbanked individuals, who represent 6.5% and 18.7% of American households, respectively, according to the most recent FDIC survey, which dates back to 2017.

If you have a checking account that doesn’t offer checks, you can try these options for setting up direct deposit or electronic payments.

  • Use a deposit slip instead. Deposit slips should also have your routing number and bank account number, and this could be an option if your bank offers them.
  • Submit banking details online. If you’re trying to set up online bill payments, you may be able to do that through your online banking access, with no voided checks or paper forms required.
  • Ask the bank for a starter check. Your bank may be able to print you a starter or sample check with your routing number and bank account number that you could use for voiding purposes.
  • Get other documentation from the bank. If you can’t use a deposit slip or starter check, your bank may be able to provide you with an official letter with your routing and account number that you could use in place of a voided check.