How to void a cheque (and why you’d want to)

These days, you probably pay for most of the things you buy using a debit card, credit card, or even Apple Pay. Sure, you probably carry some cash around for small purchases and emergencies. But because you have to trek all the way to an ATM to get it, you tend to keep cash payments to a minimum. And cheques? You can't even remember the last time you used one.

Sowhen a new employer or a life insurance provider asks you for a void cheque, you may have no clue about what they want from you. And you may feel too embarrassed to ask.

That's why in this article, we tell you everything you need to know about void cheques and how to create them.

What is a void cheque?

A void cheque is really just what the term says it is … a cheque with the word "VOID" written across it. This invalidates the cheque so that you can send it to someone without having to worry that they'll fill in a blank cheque and take money out of your bank account.

Source:NationalResearch Council Canada

What do you need a void cheque for?

In most cases, when you need to void a cheque, it's because someone needs to set up an electronic link between their bank account and yours. To do this, they need the numbers that identify your unique bank account. These include the routing number and your account number.

Your routing number and account number appear on every cheque in your cheque book. (They're the funny-looking numbers at the bottom.) So when someone's setting up an electronic link to your bank account, a void cheque gives them the info they need to do this.

There are two main reasons why someone would need to set up an electronic link to your bank account: for direct deposits or pre-authorized payments.

Direct deposits

If you were employed decades ago, your employer probably paid you by writing a physical cheque every time payday came around. But these days, it's common for employers to deposit money directly into employees' bank accounts. With direct deposit, you can get paid instantly on prescheduled dates and you don't have to go through the trouble of depositing a cheque. Pretty convenient, right?

Pre-authorized payments

You probably have expenses that you pay for on a monthly basis. These may include mortgage payments, utility bills, or car payments. Pre-authorized payments make it easier to pay these recurring expenses because they automatically withdraw the money from your bank account each month.

Void cheques are useful because they allow you to share your bank account number and your bank routing number without having to worry about someone actually using the check.

Paying for life insurance

Life insurance companies are behind the times and that means that they rarely accept credit cards. When applying for your life insurance policy, your insurance company may ask you to provide a void cheque to set up monthly withdrawals via direct deposit.

It's also handy when you make a mistake

If you still use cheques, you may occasionally make a mistake when filling one out and decide that you need to start all over again with a new cheque. In this case, you don't want to just stuff the partially filled cheque in a drawer or toss it into the garbage. Because if someone gets their hands on an incomplete cheque, they might be able to fill it in and use it to take money out of your account.

So what should you do instead? Void the cheque.

How to void a cheque

Even if cheques seem like mysterious relics from the past to you, voiding a cheque is actually pretty easy. In fact, it's even easier than filling out a cheque.

To void a cheque, all you have to do is take a cheque from your cheque book and write "VOID" across it using a dark pen or marker. Make the letters large and space them out so that they fill all of the fields you would normally fill out. This way, if someone gets their hands on the cheque, they won't be able to fill in the fields and use the cheque.

Just be sure that you don't cover the numbers at the bottom of the cheque. Remember, these are the numbers that someone will use to set up an electronic link between their bank account and yours. So you want these numbers to be visible.

What if you don't have a cheque book?

If you don't pay for things by cheque, you might not even own a cheque book. So what do you do if someone asks you for a void cheque? Do you need to shell out the money for an entire cheque book that you may never use again?

Probably not.

Most banks now have direct deposit/pre-authorized debit forms that you can download with your routing number and account number pre-filled. You can often access them from your online banking account and then send them to the organizations that need your banking info. It really is that simple!