Teaching yourself how to void a check should be a requirement for anyone who has a bank checking account. Voiding a check comes in handy for a variety of reasons, and banking consumers should know the what, why's and how's associated with voiding a check.

How to Void a Check

To void a check, write the word "VOID" in large, capital letters in the payment amount box and the signature line using dark ink. Don't write on the bottom of the check where your bank's routing and account numbers are displayed, since your bank's routing and account numbers may need to be accessed for setting up direct deposit or other uses.

Some other considerations:

  • Blue and black ink pens are the preferred colors for voiding checks, but any color will work as long as it's dark ink.
  • Make sure to not sign the check and to not write anything other than "VOID," although it's OK if you previously had anything written. A blank check is always better for setting up direct deposit.
  • Jot down the check number in your checkbook or check registry so you know where the check was headed and who received it.
  • After you void your check, you can contact your bank to request a "stop money order."
  • If you want to void a check online for setting up direct deposit, you usually only need to know your routing and account numbers.

What Is a Voided Check?

A voided check is a paper bank-account utensil with the term "VOID" written across the it in capital letters.

By writing "VOID" across the check, the check is no longer valid as a form of legal tender and can never be presented to a bank for payment. Additionally, the term "VOID" on a blank check means the check fields, including name, date, check amount, and signature can't be completed and used for payment.

Why Would You Void a Check?

You void a check for a variety of reasons. The following are the most common reasons you would void a check:

To set up direct payments. To establish automatic payments with an employer, vendor, individual or business. The data on the check, including the bank's name, the customer's name, address, account number, the check number, and the bank's routing number are used by payers to set up automatic payments.

For employer's usage. Perhaps the most common reason to void a check is when an employer needs your bank information to set up automatic paycheck deposit. The business accepts a check with the term "VOID" across the check. The company's accounting or payroll department will use the voided check to collect your bank account data and enter that information into its payroll system, or the payroll system of a third-party provider. Direct deposit from a voided check means an employee can have his or her paycheck deposited directly into their bank checking account, saving them the time and trouble of waiting for a check to clear and having to visit the bank to deposit the check.

To pay bills electronically. Another reason to void a check is to set up direct bill payments that are automatically debited from your checking account. Automatic debit payments can be used to pay a wide variety of bills electronically, including rent, mortgage, credit card, auto loan, phone and cable, and utility payments, among other household or business-related bills. That saves the payer the trouble of writing multiple checks and mailing them for payment.

To correct mistakes. When a bank account holder writes a check and makes a mistake in doing so (like writing the wrong amount on the check) that person can either tear up the check or write "VOID" across the check, rendering it useless for payment.

Can You Void a Check Online?

As the need for paper checks dissipates and more consumers are conducting financial transactions online, voiding a check online is rapidly becoming more commonplace.

By and large, voiding a check electronically is set up by the company, person or organization requesting the voided check. You'll be asked to void the check on a secure website page, listing the same information you would normally provide on a voided paper check.

What Happens if You Don't Have a Check

If you don't have a check handy, you can visit your bank branch and ask for a "counter check".

The bank customer service representative will print out a check document with your bank checking account data on it, and you can void that check. A word of caution - not every financial institution accepts counter checks - make sure you clear a counter check with the intended recipient of your voided check.

You can also ask your bank for a non-check financial document on its letterhead, listing your name, bank account number and bank routing number.

The Takeaway on Voiding a Check

Learning how to void a check can pave the way for multiple financial transactions, including direct payroll checks, automatic debit bill payments, and to correct and resolve checks written mistakenly.

Every bank checking account customer should know how to void a check, as sooner or later, bank customers will get a request for a voided check.