A check is a written order for a payment of money. In America, checks are commonly used to process a money exchange such as a payroll check, or to pay a merchant for their goods and services. A normal American check will typically feature the name and address of the drawer, or the person who is giving the money. The drawer will have to fill in either by typing or writing the name of the person or company that they are presenting the check to, the amount of the check in numerals, the amount of the check spelled out, the date, and the drawer’s signature. Some checks will also feature a small memo line where the drawer can write the reason that the check was written such as rent, cable, payroll, Johnny’s birthday, or whatever the occasion.
Certain information will already be printed on the check, such as the name of the bank where the payment will be drawn from, that bank’s routing number, an account number, and a check number. Checks also typically feature the name, address, and telephone number of the drawer already printed on them in the upper left hand corner of the unit, as can be seen in the diagram here. The very bottom row of numbers on a check is where the routing number, account number, and check number are stored. The routing number is always the first number on the bottom, starting from the left. The order of the second two numbers afterward, the account number and the check number, are irrelevant as long as they are there.
How Do Checks Work?
When a merchant receive a paper check, they deliver it to their bank to be cashed. Typically, that bank will either present the merchant cash or make a deposit into their account. A check is essentially a promise that the funds that the check is written for will be available at any time that the check is presented to be cashed. The merchant’s bank will then “send” the check to the drawer’s bank. Once the check is verified as authentic, the drawer’s account is checked for the availability of funds. Those funds are then transferred to the bank where the merchant cashed the check as a reimbursement to the bank for advancing the merchant the amount of the check, or a hold on the funds are released so that the merchant may access that dollar amount from their account.
This is, of course, assuming that there are no problems with the check physically, and that it is authentic with the funds available at the time it is presented.