All About Checks
Checks have been in use in the United States since the turn of the century. There are many reasons why the check has become "America's favorite way to pay"...over 40 billion checks are written each year, that's about 130 checks per person. Of course, credit cards, debit cards and online payments are also very popular ways to make payments. But, what makes the check so special?
First, it is a tangible document that proves payment. That gives most Americans a genuine feeling of security. It is important to have the confidence that there is genuine control over the checking account. Writing a check is probably the next best thing to taking actual cash out of your pocket and paying for goods and services. But, checks give us freedom from carrying lots of cash which has obvious potential problems if we carry too much.
Did you know that credit cards can motivate consumers to spend as much as 30% more than if they paid in cash? It's just so easy to pull out the plastic and buy just about anything. That can fall into the category of impulse spending. But, writing a check can help most of us by watching our balance as we make entries to the check register. The control factor can help greatly in following a budget and controlling the desire to spend more - it's good old fashioned conservatism. That's a benefit that cannot be denied. Checks and healthy money management go hand in hand.
Most people are a little foggy about the numbers on a check, so here are some helpful explanations:
- Personalization - this is the easy part..your personal information goes here.
- Bank Personalization - your bank's name goes here, address and other information like the bank phone number are optional.
- Fraction Number - is simply an abbreviated or fractional form of the routing number, the prefix identifies the general location of the bank within the banking system.
- Sequence Number - this number simply helps you keep track of each individual check you write.
- Custom Message - most Promise Checks will provide two lines for you to say something that is meaningful to you.
- Routing Number - each bank has its own identification number, the first 9 digits tells the banking system the name of your bank.
- Account Number - this is your personal bank account number.
- Sequence Number - this number matches the Sequence Number in the top right corner of your check. Sometimes it appears before your Account Number, sometimes after.
- The Routing Number, Account Number and Sequence Number combined is called the MICR or Magnetic Ink Character Recognition. Your check payment is "read" or scanned with the help of the MICR.
Of course, your personal information such as the Date, Pay to, Amount Box, Payment Description, For memo and Signature make the check complete. Since October 28, 2004, checks are required to be printed to comply with what is known as Check 21 regulations. All the elements of your check must comply with these regulations to make your check process more efficiently and faster within the banking system. All Promise Checks are Check 21 compliant. You may notice that some of our images are faded somewhat in order to meet practical and legal requirements. Designing a check so that all the pieces in the puzzle fit correctly can be quite a challenge! But, you can be sure that every Promise Check is much more than a work of art, they are also functional, guaranteed to work in every financial institution in America.