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Do You Have to Write Dollar Amounts in Words On Checks?

Updated on July 5, 2020
NateB11 profile image

Like most people, I'm concerned with the practical needs of everyday life, and therefore research issues of health and livelihood.

To avoid trouble you might want to be at least a little bit meticulous in writing out your checks.
To avoid trouble you might want to be at least a little bit meticulous in writing out your checks. | Source

I was writing out my rent check and got to the part where you write out in words the dollar amount of the check and I wrote a little bit too big and couldn't fit in the No over 100 in the cents part. I thought, "Oh, God. Do I have to write this check all over again. Not in the mood." So, rather than go to the trouble of writing the check again, I turned to Google to see if I have to write the cent amount in that field where you write the dollar amount in words. I suppose I took more time trying to find out if I had to, than it would have taken to just write another check (like you are doing, I suppose), but for future reference, I was curious.

Paying bills of course can be a pain and you might be looking for shortcuts just to get it done. But think twice, y'all!
Paying bills of course can be a pain and you might be looking for shortcuts just to get it done. But think twice, y'all! | Source

Why Do You Have to Write the Dollar Amount in Words?

In short, to prevent fraud. It is harder to alter a check when the amount on it is written out two different ways, in numbers and words. If I write a check for $1500 and also write on it, "One Thousand Five Hundred Dollars and NO/100", it's harder to mistake it for $7500 (if the number amount were changed). Of course, this would also be true if I wrote, "Fifteen Hundred Dollars and NO/100", too.

Who watches out for these kinds of things? The first line of defense are bank tellers. It's very possible a bank could reject a check if it looks fraudulent or, in other words, it is not written out properly or has strange mistakes.

Outside of that, in a court of law, if litigation on the matter ever occurred, part of the evidence would be how the check was written. If you fail to make it clear on the check how much the check is for, other parties, like the bank, might not be liable. You might be stuck with whatever error might occur in the process if you don't make sure the amount of the check is clear.

In short, a dollar amount written in words is harder to falsify than numbers.

In addition to all of this, it is law to write a check out a certain way. Or, it appears this way from what is written in the Uniform Commercial Code, Article 3, Section 3-114, which states:

"If an instrument contains contradictory terms, type written terms prevail over printed terms, handwritten terms prevail over both, and words prevails over numbers."

Of course, the phrase "...words prevail over numbers" are the pertinent words here. It appears that the written words on the check are the prevailing part of the document and supersede the numbers. So if an unscrupulous merchant tries to con you or somehow it goes to court, you can point to the words written out on the check and maybe have the possibly altered numbers disregarded.

Dealing with money can be a pain, and you can watch that cash slip right through your fingers. At any rate, you don't want to make it even more stressful than it needs to be, so it might be judicious to dot your I's and cross your T's. Literally!
Dealing with money can be a pain, and you can watch that cash slip right through your fingers. At any rate, you don't want to make it even more stressful than it needs to be, so it might be judicious to dot your I's and cross your T's. Literally! | Source

How Should You Write Out the Check Then?

So, obviously, you write in the date. You write in who the check is to, in words. You then write the number amount in the box to the right and then write the dollar and cents amount in words in the long line in the middle. In the memo you might write, for instance, the apartment number to the apartment you are paying rent for, and then sign the check in the signature line. Ta-da!

Anyway, you get the point. Most of it is self explanatory, but if you were curious about whether writing the dollar amount in words is necessary hopefully I answered your question.

It seems that it is best to write the dollars and cents in words, as is traditionally done, to avoid legal problems that might occur in the future or to avoid a delay due to a meticulous bank teller.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

Comments

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    • Danny Fernandes profile image

      Danny 

      4 weeks ago from India

      Enlightening article. I would write it in words and the $sign will be in the box with figures.

      I don't know about others.

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