Whether you want to transfer money from one account to another or withdraw cash, you may be wondering if it's possible to write a check to yourself and deposit it or cash it as a way to achieve your goal. Is it l-egal? What's involved? Are there limits regarding the amount? Are there any risks to consider?
Writing a check to yourself and cashing or depositing it is perfectly legal. You simply need to name yourself as the payee. However, there are circumstances under which there may be consequences—both legal and financial. Therefore, it's crucial to understand how the process works and what to avoid.
In this post, we'll discuss the practicalities of depositing or cashing a check where both the payer and payee is Y. O. U. With that in mind, let's dive in!
Can I Write A Check To Myself And Cash It Or Deposit It?
Yes, you can. But let's first be clear about the difference between cashing and depositing a check.
Cashing a check to yourself means that you'll walk away from the transaction with physical cash in your hand. Depositing a check means the amount will be added to your account at a bank or credit union.
Before online transfers became so popular, people used to write checks all the time. Although things have changed and most transactions are now done electronically, there are still scenarios where writing a check is necessary. In fact, many people prefer this method of getting cash or moving money from one account to another when certain transaction policies may delay access to their money. In such circumstances, cashing or depositing a check may be quicker. For those who don't have other methods available, such as a debit card, credit card, or online banking, using a personal check to deposit funds or withdraw money can fulfill their purpose.
However, it's important to be aware that cashing and depositing checks isn't always free. While most banks and credit unions won't charge you a penny—specifically those you belong to—other businesses and retailers do attach fees. Certain retailers and outlets with check-cashing services typically charge anywhere from $1 to $8. Some even charge as much as 12% of the check's value, while others add a flat fee on top of their service rate.
How To Write A Check To Yourself
Now that you know you can do it, you're probably wondering how to write a check to yourself. The reality is that it's as easy as making a check out to someone else—only with your name on the "Pay to the order of" line. To ensure you do it correctly, here's a step-by-step breakdown of the process.
Step 1: Date The Check Correctly.
Believe it or not, this is one of the most important lines to get right. If you write the wrong date or year, there's a chance your check may be voided. Ideally, you should write the current date or a date in the future (known as "postdating") in this line. While some banks will accept an outdated check, they're unlikely to accept one older than six months.
Step 2: Write Your Name As The Payee.
On the "Pay to the order of" line (or similar), write your name. Although you can also make the check payable to "Cash," this can be a risky choice since anyone can cash or deposit it. As a result, you could lose your money if you lose your check and someone decides to take advantage of your misfortune.
Step 3: Write Out The Transaction Amount.
Just below the "Pay to the order of" line, you should spell out the numbers of the dollar amount you wish to cash or deposit. For example, if you're cashing a check for $257.23, write "Two Hundred and Fifty-Three Dollars and Twenty-Three Cents." While you technically don't have to fill out this section, the written amount serves as verification and helps ensure your cash or deposit amount is accurate.
A word of warning: DON'T make the check out for more than you can cover. Regularly cashing checks when you know you have insufficient funds in your account to honor the amount is called "check kiting." This is illegal and can result in your arrest. In addition, your bank will likely penalize you with additional fees for insufficient funds.
Step 4: Fill Out The Money Box.
Next, you'll need to add the numerical dollar amount of the transaction in the box provided on the right side of the check. Sticking with the previous example, this is where you'd write $257.23 instead of the words.
Step 5: Add A Note To The Memo Line.
Leaving this line blank is fine. However, consider adding a note about the transaction for future reference since writing a check to yourself isn't something you're likely to do often.
Step 6: Sign And Endorse The Check.
The last thing you need to do is add your signature to the signature line. You'll also want to endorse the check by signing the back of it. If you're planning to deposit it, you can also add a restriction by including the phrase "For deposit only."
Voila! You've just written a check to yourself that you can now cash or deposit. You can do this at any of your local banks or credit unions, as well as certain retail stores and businesses that offer check-cashing services, such as Walmart, Kmart, Kroger, Safeway, Publix, gas station travel centers, and 7-Eleven.
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How Much On A Check Can You Write To Yourself?
You can write a check in your name for any dollar amount you want. A personal check has no limit as long as there are sufficient funds in your account to cover it. However, there are three key things to be aware of for larger amounts.
Banks, credit unions, and other relevant financial institutions are required by law to report any transaction over $10,000 to the Internal Revenue Service as per the Bank Secrecy Act of 1970. This is to prevent criminal activity, such as money laundering.
Your bank might put a hold on funds until your check clears. This usually happens when the check is for a large sum (typically $5,000 or more), and the account into which you're putting the check doesn't currently have a lot of money (i.e., enough to honor the check). This is to ensure the bank is protected from losing funds should the check fail to clear.
Depending on the amount you require, you may have to call ahead to ensure the bank has enough cash on hand. If you're cashing a check at a Walmart, gas station, grocery store, or any one of the numerous businesses that offer check-cashing services in the US, you will likely be limited by how much you can get. Walmart, for example, limits the amount to $5,000 with the exception of January through April when they accept checks for $7,500 to accommodate customers with tax refunds.
Ultimately, there is no maximum limit per se. You simply need to ensure you have enough in your account to honor the check, as well as understand the limitations of using a bank versus a retailer like Walmart.
Can You Write A Check To Yourself For Mobile Deposit?
Again, you can. Instead of taking your check to a bank, a mobile check deposit saves you time by allowing you to do the transaction remotely. You simply need to snap a photo of the front and back of the check using your iPhone or Android device and then use your bank's mobile app to deposit it.
The transaction is both safe and convenient. You just need to make sure the banking app you download is direct from your bank and not some random source. Unfortunately, a report by fraud protection service provider, Outseer, reveals that fake mobile apps accounted for nearly 40% of all fraud attacks in 2021. You can never be too careful, so only download the app from your bank's website.
What else should you know about mobile check deposits?
- Your bank can put a cap on the amount. The maximum varies across banks, but they usually restrict how much customers can deposit daily or monthly.
- Like regular checks, your bank can place a hold on funds. Most commonly, this occurs when you send the deposit after a certain cutoff time for the day. It can also be due to the delayed availability of funds, so keep this in mind if you need to deposit money from one account into another urgently.
- You will need to endorse the back of the check just as you would if depositing it at a bank. Some checks already have a box that says "For mobile deposit," which you'll need to check. If there is no check box, simply add "For mobile deposit only" next to your signature on the back of the check.
- Use your bank's app to guide your snaps. Position the check within your screen's frame, and then let the app prompt you when to take the picture. Some apps will take a photo automatically. Placing the check on a dark background can help improve photo quality.
At the end of the day, mobile despot features can save you a trip to your local branch. Although it's not as convenient as an online transfer, it is a quick solution if you need to write a physical check to complete your transaction.
Writing a check to yourself to cash or deposit isn't necessarily the most convenient or easiest way to get money from your account or move money between accounts, but it serves its purpose when needed. Just make sure you fill out the check correctly and that you have plenty of money in your account to cover the amount.
Shawn Manaher is a former financial advisor, has founded 5 online businesses, and is a coach, speaker, podcast host, and author. He's been featured on Forbes, The Consults Corner on TAE Radio, The Writing Biz, What's Your Story, and more.