Recently, I’ve been hearing this rumor that checks with an old address won’t work and that you can go to jail for even handing over such a check. However, that can’t be further from the truth. If you’re careful and do some research on the matter, I guarantee you won’t have any issues using the old checks.
After all, it’s 2020, and such a silly misunderstanding doesn’t just send innocent people to prison. Everything’s electronic now, and you can easily fix almost every problem you run into. That being said, if you have an old check that contains the wrong address, stick around, as I’ll give you all the information you need.
But before we get to the core of the issue, let’s talk about the checks. What are they? What do they contain? And why are they so important in the first place? In order to understand what the fuss is all about, you need to know the basics.
Why Use a Check?
In short, a check is a document that a person uses to transfer money from their bank account to some other place. The person writing it, or the drawer, inputs the bearer’s name on it. After that, the bearer, which can be either a person or a business, can cash it in (exchange it for money).
Obviously, it’s not the most popular means of payment, especially among younger people. However, it can come handy at times. For instance, when you plan on making a big payment, you are better off using a check than paying in cash or with a credit card. It’s much safer that way, and you have solid evidence that you’ve completed the payment.
What’s on a Check?
Now onto the contents of a check. If you’re not familiar with the structure of one, then you most likely won’t know how to fill it in when the time comes. In my opinion, every adult should know how to do that. So here’s a reminder:
Firstly, there’s the section featuring the drawer’s personal information, and it contains their name and address, which I’ll get to a bit later. The next element is the payee line that the drawer uses to indicate who will receive the money.
Then, you also have the dollar box, and that’s where you need to write down the amount of money you want to transfer. In this box, you need to write the sum in a numerical format, whereas on the line below, you’ll jot down that same number again using words.
There are two other lines that you need to fill in. The memo line is where you should mention the purpose of the payment. The line on its right is a place where you, the drawer, need to leave your signature, thereby implying that you’re consenting to the transfer fully.
Of course, a check would have no value without the drawer’s banking account, so that information needs to be featured on it too. Naturally, you’ll notice the bank’s logo and contact info on there, as well as your account number, ABA fractional and routing number, and check number. This number serves a simple purpose — to prevent fraud and make sure that every check is unique.
As you may know already, you have to be careful when writing a check. You want to make sure all the information is correct. Still, in some cases, such as when you move and are left with checks with an old address, the rules are not as strict.
Can I Use Checks With an Old Address?
If you’re like me, you tend to move around a lot. If so, you know that you need to get your mail and documents in order every time you move. Besides that, you’re left with checks with an old address.
The first time this happened to me, I remember being unsure whether the check would bounce because of the address. Not wanting to embarrass myself, I took some time to look it up. As it turns out, it shouldn’t pose a problem at all.
Simply put, as long as the account and routing number are all right, you should be alright, regardless of the address. Naturally, your balance should also be in order for that to happen.
On the other hand, writing a check with an expired address could give off an impression of unprofessionalism. If you’re writing one to your customers, subcontractors, and business partners, the paperwork needs to be impeccable.
Even though it will go through, it’s in your best interest to be on the safe side and avoid any potential inconveniences. On top of that, having valid info on your checks brings about transparency, and you’ll be ‘clean’ if any problems occur.
Can I Change the Address on a Check?
Since all of your old checks still work, the only thing stopping you from using them is the fear of getting rejected by a mildly aggravated counter worker. However, in my opinion, that’s not a good enough reason for you to throw out a batch of perfectly functional checks. Besides, it’s unnecessary, as you can also change the address yourself.
Depending on how much effort you’re willing to put in, you can change the address in a few different ways.
For one, you can go with the ultimate old-school method — pen and paper. First, you carefully erase, cover up, or black out the old address. Then, you simply write the new address next to the old one, and you’re all set. However, you might not have enough room to do that. If so, you can freely write it at the top of the check, or even at the back.
On the other hand, if you feel a bit more creative, I’ll give you another idea. For starters, you should print out a page filled with your check’s address labels. Then, you cut out each label as precisely as you can. Finally, paste the new label on top of the old one, leaving you with more than enough room for your new address. To save extra time, you can print out the labels with the address already on them. That way, you don’t have to write it by hand.
No matter which option you choose, your checks will now be absolutely and totally up to spec. To emphasize again — as long as the account and route numbers are correct, you’re in the clear.
How Can I Get New Checks (and Where)?
OK, so you’ve used up all of your checks with an old address. What is your next move?
When the time comes for new checks, you should let the bank teller know that you’ve changed your address. Trust me; they’ll gladly update the info they have on you and give you a new batch with the correct address.
On the other hand, I guess a sizable portion of people simply forgets to update their address. You go out, get a new batch… Only when you’re back home do you realize that you didn’t update the address.
Fortunately, I have a quick and easy solution just for you. Simply use your bank’s online banking service to update your address, and you’re done! The next time you go to the bank for new checks, they’ll have the updated address on them.
However, nowadays, not all banks tend to be as generous. With the advent of online banking, checks became something of a niche item. As such, more and more banks are starting to charge for new ones. Typically, the bank includes the cost of new checks in the annual account maintenance fee.
If not, you can buy them in more than a few places.
Hailing as the newcomer to the online check market, checks.com is the most cost-effective option. Naturally, the checks themselves are nothing to write home about. However, they’ll work perfectly when you need a lot of them for cheap. On top of that, this site offers a few higher-tiered packages if you need something a bit more professional-looking.
The staple of the checks-for-sale industry, Walmart Checks offers them cheaper than anyone else, most of the time. In addition to their cost, Walmart Checks have the advantage of no waiting time. Basically, you can get checks in almost any Walmart in the States.
Finally, Bradford Exchange serves as an excellent option for all of you who want personalized checks. No matter what comes to your mind, Bradford Exchange will make it into a check and send it in the mail. Additionally, you can choose from an extremely wide variety of designs they have to offer.
Hopefully, this article I wrote taught you what to do when you have checks with an old address. Such a thing can happen to anyone, and it’s crucial to know what to do in case it does. And as you can see, it’s not a big deal at all!