A voided check is a lot more than a piece of paper with the word ‘VOID’ written across the front. The check’s information gives the recipient information necessary to set up direct deposit or direct debit in your bank account. Be careful who has your canceled checks and know how to use them wisely.
What Is a Voided Check?
At the most basic level, a voided check is a check with the word VOID written across the front. When you write on the paper check, make sure you cover enough area so no one can write anything on it that could make it usable, deducting the money from your bank account.
In other words, make it obvious that the check is voided without question. This is important whether you must void a written check because you made a mistake or need to supply a blank check to an employer or service provider.
How Voiding a Check Works
When you write void across a check, you make it unusable. In other words, anyone who gets their hands on it can’t cash it. This is true even if you wrote it out to someone but changed your mind or made a mistake. The word ‘VOID’ changes everything.
Even though you voided the check, there is still useful information on it. Your employer, a lender, or any other business you provide it to will look at the bottom where your banking information is located and use this information to pay you or get payment from you.
The first set of numbers on the check is your routing number. This tells the company what bank to direct the request to, such as Chase, PNC, or Bank of America. Each bank has its own routing number. The next set of numbers is your account number. This is what tells the person depositing or withdrawing funds which account to use.
The user will also verify your name and address appear on the check. This ensures the account belongs to you before they make any financial transactions.
5 Reasons to Void a Check
You may void checks more often than you’d think. Here are the top 5 reasons to void a check:
- Set up direct deposit with your employer – You could provide your employer with your routing number and bank account number, but providing a canceled check ensures greater accuracy when setting up your direct deposit.
- Set up direct payments with someone besides your employer – If you receive payments from the government or any other business, you may want the money deposited directly into your account. Providing a canceled check gives the payer the information needed to set you up.
- Set up one-off payments – If you’re a freelancer and will do a job or two for a client, you may want direct deposit rather than waiting for payment in the mail or paying PayPal fees.
- Automatic bill pay – If you’d rather have your rent, mortgage, car payment, or student loan payments withdrawn from your account automatically, the lender must set it up. It’s the reverse of direct deposit, but the creditor needs the same information along with your signature authorizing direct debit of the stated amount each month.
- Mistakes – We all make them even when writing checks. If you make a mistake (wrong person’s name, wrong date, or wrong amount), you shouldn’t cross out on the paper check. Instead, void it and start again. Don’t ever leave a check with a mistake on it without canceling it. That’s like leaving a blank check for someone to do what they want with.
How to Get a Voided Check
You don’t need to go to the bank to get a voided check. You use the next one in line in your checkbook. For example, if you just wrote check #125, the next one in line, check #126 would be your voided check to send to whoever needs the information to set you up on direct deposit or direct debit.
If you don’t have any checks left, you have a few other options when determining how to get a voided check:
- Counter check – Most banks print checks on demand if you ask. There may be a charge for it, so check with your bank.
- Deposit slip – If your checkbook included preprinted deposit slips, ask if that is acceptable. It contains the same information your checks provide.
- Letter from the bank – Your bank may also write a letter on their letterhead that includes your banking information.
How to Write a Void Check
It’s easy to learn how to write a void check. Pull out the next check in your checkbook and write its number down in your check register.
Take a black marker or any other obvious writing utensil and write VOID in big letters a couple of times (or once in large font) over the front of the check. Just make sure you leave the information on the bottom, your routing number, and account number visible. Also, make sure your name and address are easily visible.
Void Check Example
Usually, any check with the word ‘VOID’ on it can’t be cashed, but it pays to be cautious and make sure the word ‘VOID’ hits all the right areas.
How to Void a Blank Check
Take extra care when you void a blank check. Since there aren’t any names or amounts written on it, anyone could slip information in there and try to pass it off. Write ‘VOID’ large enough, making sure that you cover all important areas, including the ‘to,’ ‘amount box,’ ‘amount line,’ and ‘signature’ area.
What Is a Voided Check FAQ
What Can Someone Do With a Voided Check?
Use caution when you issue a voided check. While most banks won’t cash them, you may find one that lets it slide through, especially if the person deposits it electronically. When written correctly, no one should be able to use it, but the bank account information is on it, so a thief or hacker could take the information and either create fraudulent checks and/or set up direct payment to themselves.
Is a Voided Check a Blank Check?
No, a voided check voids a blank check if you do it right. If you don’t, and you leave room for others to write on the check, then yes, you could supply someone with a blank check without meaning to.
Can I Just Write Void on a Check?
Yes, to cancel a check, all you need to do is write the word ‘VOID,’ and as long as it’s obvious enough (large enough), the bank shouldn’t cash it.
How Do I Get a Voided Check for Direct Deposit?
You can get a voided check for direct deposit from your checkbook (take the next check in line) or from your bank if you are out of checks.
What Can I Use Instead of a Voided Check?
If you aren’t confident using a voided check, a few other options include:
- Photocopy of a voided check
- Direct deposit authorization form
- Printed deposit slip
- Counter check (voided) from the bank
Can You Cash a Voided Check?
While you shouldn’t be able to cash a voided check, there are some cases when it happens. If you find a voided check cashed, contact your bank right away.
Understanding a Voided Check Meaning Is Important
The chances are that you’ll need a voided check at some point. Understanding how to write a voided check is important to ensure you do it right so no one can use it. Voiding a check is a great way to give important people your banking information, like the people paying you (your employer) or the people you’re paying (your creditors). Do it right, and voiding a check can save you time and make you money.
Samantha uses her BS in Finance and MBA to help others get control of their finances through budgeting, saving, investing, side hustles, and travel hacking. Due to following the FIRE Movement’s principles, she was able to quit her high-stress job in the financial services industry in July 2019 to pursue her side hustles. She is now a full-time entrepreneur and blogger. When not working, she enjoys spending time with her dog “Simba” and traveling with her husband, John.