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Last Updated on January 17, 2024 by Andrej
Every year, more than 40 million Americans move – and need to change their address in the process. However, in 2018 there were 14.5 billion check payment transactions – and while this number is declining, it’s a long way from being totally obsolete. And so it begs the question – can you use checks with an old address?
Can you use checks with old address?
A bank can still process a check with an incorrect address – and as long as the routing number and account information is valid, the money can be withdrawn from the checking account. However, merchants, vendors, businesses, and institutions have a discretionary capacity to decline to process the check if they are not satisfied with the validity of the information – which may include a discrepancy between the address on the check and what they have on file.
- Using Checks With An Old Address
- Can You Use Checks With An Old Address
- How To Manage Your Checks When Your Address Changes
- How To Manage Mistakes On Your Checks
- Reasons To Still Use Checks
- Alternatives To Paper Checks
- Using Checks With An Old Address
Using Checks With An Old Address: What to Know
Throughout our lives changing addresses is almost inevitable – and the best thing to do when this happens is to proactively keep on top of your paperwork. This will involve systematically coordinating a widespread reorganization:
- Inform the post office to ensure your mail is forwarded
- Notify tax agencies to keep the IRS happy
- Inform the SSA to prevent any disruption to Social Security
- Notify all utilities
- Notify all banks and financial institutions
And as part of your change of address checklist, you’ll want to make sure your bank re-issues your checks with your updated address. But as we all know, moving house is a stressful endeavor – and having up-to-date checks is likely not high on the list of priorities.
And for that reason, knowing if your old checks can still be used is a worthwhile question to ask – at least while you’re getting your affairs in order after a highly stressful move.
Is The Address On the Checks Checked
Technically speaking, checks can be accepted either without an address or with the presence of an outdated or incorrect address – as long as the account information is valid.
If you are using apps to cash your checks then the validation process will be algorithmic, and the success or failure of checks containing incorrect current address information will vary from platform to platform.
With human validation, the individual policies of the merchant will be at the discretion of the person accepting the check.
What Information Is Required On A Check
Firstly, if a check is going to include an address (which it isn’t required to) then it will usually be printed on the top left-hand side. If you have checks that don’t include a printed address you are not required to write it in yourself.
The information that is required for a check to be usable is the payee’s name, the cash amount (value), the payers routing number, and account number. As you can see, the routing and account number will be pre-printed (as issued by your check provider) and the payer’s name and the amount will be blank fields – ready for you to fill in.
Additional information can either be added at your own behest or be required by the institution accepting the check. This may include for the address to be handwritten (if it is not printed) and then used as a means to confirm the ID by way of fraud prevention measures.
You may also need to include the purpose for the check within the memo section provided (if there) or write this information on the back of the check. Sometimes a phone number may also be required for additional security measures.
Reality Of Checks Getting Accepted With Wrong Address
When it comes to actually cashing your checks with the wrong address you may in fact run into problems. This will largely depend on the policies and procedures of check recipients. Some retailers will require the checks to contain a matching address to that which is on your personal identification.
Moreover, when dealing with Governmental Departments, the rules can be somewhat ambiguous – especially with the wording of their internal policies.
The IRS states within their Federal Tax Payment guidelines:
Always provide on the front of your check or money order your correct name, address, Social Security number listed first on the tax form, daytime telephone number, tax year, and form number.IRS
Note how the wording states the address must be correct, and while your current address may not be the same as the address printed, there is no stipulation against your crossing out the incorrect address and replacing it with your current residence.
In fact, many people dealing with the IRS have explained how as long as the check is valid with the correct routing and account number – as well as the name, then matching address does not appear to be an issue.
However, if you have recently changed address it would be advised to inform the IRS immediately – as this can help avoid complications further down the road.
How To Manage Your Checks When Your Address Changes
So, you’ve moved address and now have to decide how to manage your checking situation. Ideally, you would have informed your bank of your address change and had them reissue a new checkbook.
However, in the modern busy world, this is often something overlooked, and one can also feel pretty wasteful throwing away a perfectly good checkbook. We have already established how (technically) the accuracy of the address is a relatively unimportant piece of information. The only problems you may encounter are when dealing with a particularly persnickety stickler for the rules – and when cross-checking personal information is used for security reasons.
And so you could continue writing checks with your old checkbook – and as long as the account information remains valid, there should be no problems in the checks passing through the financial system unencumbered.
While this is certainly a manageable way to continue making deposits and transfers with checks, eventually (or as soon as possible) you’ll want to embark on a more permanent resolution:
Order New Checks
Ordering new checks from your bank is the most straightforward way to have an incorrect address amended. The bank will update your details on their system (as per your requirements) and then reissue you a newly printed checkbook with the updated address information.
Although ordering new checks from your bank may seem like the most logical solution – in most cases it will cost you $35 or more (with duplicates). However, many people feel comfortable with their banks, and trust in the security of the checks provided, the handling of their personal information, and the ease with which you can make the re-order request (over the phone, online, or in branch).
But there is a cheaper alternative where security is just as robust and the designs can be super cute – if that sort of thing floats your boat!
Always look for the little padlock (🔒) sign next to the ‘amount’ box on your checks. This icon is an indication that the check printing company has been cleared and vetted by the Check Payment Systems Association. You can browse a list of all CPSA authorized printers here.
Ordering checks online has never been easier – and with modern internet security protocols as well as printing developments, all your checks can be ordered in a completely safe environment.
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Offering the latest in high-security checks in an array of designs – at super affordable low prices!
You also get a free 7-ring check binder with your first purchase.
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The great thing about ordering printed addresses online is you can actually opt-out of having your address included. This has two main benefits which may be worth considering.
Firstly, if you are prone to moving, then having a blank space in the address area means you automatically avoid any conflicts of information. And you can keep your checks and use them until they run out – no waste and less hassle!
Secondly, if you do prefer to maintain as much privacy as possible, you avoid providing unnecessary information – as having the address is not required. If your checkbook is stolen then you deprive the thieves of this extra piece of personal detail.
And if you are running into problems whereby providing an address is necessary – perhaps with a certain retailer – you do have additional options to avoid the inconvenience these types of address-less checks may cause.
Use Money Order Or Cashier’s Check
If you don’t want to order new checks from the bank or a reputable online printing merchant, you can always use Money Orders or Cashiers Checks.
You may not have considered either of these two options as a realistic long-term alternative to personal checks – but if you rarely use checks as a form of payment anyway, then it’s worth considering.
Of course with both of these options, there is a fee involved. But if you are using checks infrequently, then this fee might offset the amount you would typically need to spend on purchasing your own checkbook for your checking account.
And another benefit of this method is that you are not tied down to using the account with which the checkbook is associated. Money Orders, for example, can be purchased with cash – or with a debit card from the account of your choice.
Money Orders can be purchased from banks, credit unions, grocery stores, convenience stores, and the post office. When you purchase a money order you will need the amount in either cash or as available funds with an ATM card – and the name of the payee.
The maximum amount for Money Orders is $1000, and you can use multiple Money Orders to cover larger transactions. These are ideal when you don’t have a check, or if you do have a check but it has the wrong address and you fear it will be rejected.
Cashiers Checks can be purchased from your bank or credit union, and essentially eliminate the need for you to have your own checks. You could view them as a pay-as-you-go check solution, and they are often considered safer than personal checks since the funds are guaranteed by the bank.
Once you purchase the Cashiers’ Check, the funds will be removed from your bank account and transferred to the banks. You will state the name of the payee and any additional information you wish to be included in the memo section.
How To Manage Mistakes On Your Checks
Beside asking yourself “can I use old checks with an old address”, it’s good to be aware of all the mistakes that can appear on your checks.
Re-ordering new checks with the correct address is by far the best way to handle inaccurate financial information. Next, you have the option to navigate entirely away from personal checks and use Money Orders or Cashiers checks – albeit with a small fee involved each time.
But there is another possible solution.
Not everybody is perfect, and as such making mistakes when writing checks is to be expected. And the financial institutions that handle billions of dollars worth of checks every year know this! This is why there is a widely accepted protocol to actually self-correct mistakes on your checks.
And even though this is usually something done when a mistake is made with a pen – the same logic can be applied to printed portions of the check that are no longer accurate – including, you’ve guessed it, the address!
How To Make Minor Corrections
When writing out a check it is very easy to make mistakes – especially if it’s for a large sum of money and nerves begin to get the better of you. I remember when I had to write a check for the deposit on my first house – it was the most money I had ever had to part with and there was a slight shake to my hand when pen met paper.
Thankfully, with small mistakes, you have a quick-fix solution which will generally mean the check can still be used. You simply need to draw a straight line through the mistake and write the correct information immediately above. It is also best practice to initial the mistake to authenticate it.
This can be applied to the incorrect printed address as well – simply follow the steps outlined and insert your new address with your initials.
It is worth mentioning that any mistakes made in relation to the amount figure (either numerically or written) should not be corrected with this method. Banks will likely perceive this as fraudulent and therefore the check should be voided!
The Label Solution
If you are planning on using multiple checks from a checkbook with the wrong address – then making corrections with a pen may become somewhat tedious. And if you’re like me and hate things to look messy – then a neatly printed address label is probably a better option.
These Mailing Address Labels are perfect for your Laser or Inkjet printer – and for less than $30 you get 150 sheets with 3000 labels. You’ll probably want to double up and use each label for two addresses – as the area on the check is quite small and you must ensure important information is not covered (routing number, account number, etc).
How To Safely Dispose Of Checks
If you decide that none of the aforementioned options are right for you – and instead wish to buy new checks, then you may be wondering how best to destroy old checks? After all, you don’t want them getting into the wrong hands!
The absolute best way to get rid of old checks is to shred them. This is safe, secure and will give you peace of mind when it comes to protecting your personal information.
I’ve got this AmazonBasics Cross-Cut Shredder, and it’s one of the best investments I’ve ever made when it comes to disposing of sensitive information safely. It cuts the paper into confetti-like pieces which means they can not be easily reassembled – giving you that extra security.
It can also be used for credit cards and any other sensitive documents you wish to destroy.
Reasons To Still Use Checks
However, when you are faced with an outdated checkbook that no longer contains your correct address information – you may want to consider some of the advantages before cosigning this historic form of payment to the history books.
- Extra Time For Withdrawals – Unlike online payments, checks often take a couple of days to clear. When you’re in a financial pinch, a few days can make all the difference to get your finances in order.
- Business Preferences – Some businesses simply prefer checks – and while this may seem unusual in this day and age, it is always handy to be able to comply when required.
- Traceability – If you are unable to pay online or with a bank transfer – then sending checks offers a level of traceability that you just can’t get with cash. You can request a mailing receipt when sending your check to document the mailing date.
- Gifts – Checks are a much nicer way of gifting larger sums of money as opposed to cash. You can place the check into a nice card and present your gift to the lucky recipient.
Alternatives To Paper Checks
Checks are just one form of money transfer, and you’ll be pleased to know you have many options when it comes to getting your cash to where it needs to be.
There are a number of alternative payment methods available that are safe, simple to use, and often very inexpensive – which is always good!
- ACH Payments – The Automated Clearing House network allows payments to be transferred without paper checks. An instruction is sent from your bank to the recipient bank and the payment is processed securely.
- Wire Transfer – This is simply a direct bank transfer from one party to another. Processing is usually immediate, but there are fees involved.
- Direct Deposit – This uses Automated Clearing House to transfer money directly from one account to another. The fees are usually considerably lower than that of credit cards or wire transfers but will usually take 3-5 business days to complete.
- Peer to Peer Payments – Mobile apps such as PayPal and Venmo make transferring money as simple as knowing an email address or phone number. The fees are usually relatively low and transfers to a bank account take around 3 days (but you can often pay a small additional fee for instant transfers). The main befit of P2P payments is the usability and widespread usage.
Do checks actually need to include your address?
No, checks are not strictly required to contain an address in order for them to be successfully processed. However, you may encounter certain financial institutions or merchants that do make this a requirement.
What information needs to be included on a check?
You will need to include the payee’s name, cash amount, routing number, and account number. You can also add additional information to the memo section, as well as the address – but these are not required.
Do you need to order checks through your bank?
While checks can be ordered through your bank, you also have the option to buy checks from third-party vendors. Just ensure you are using a reputable company that provides safe and secure checks.
How much does it cost to order checks through your bank?
Banks will usually charge $20+ for a box of checks. Certain account types however will offer free checks.
Is it safe to order checks online?
Yes, buying checks online is safe, as long as you are using a printing company that has been cleared and vetted by the Check Payment Systems Association.
Can I order checks online that do not include my address?
Checks are not required to contain your address, and as such, you can order checks where this information is not included.
What is the best place to order checks online?
I always recommend Checks In The Mail – and you can use the code BIZ20 to get 20% off your first order.
What should you do if your stimulus check is sent to the wrong address?
If your stimulus check (or any other Government-issued payment) is sent to the wrong address, then it means they have the incorrect address on file. You can try and have your mail forwarded to the correct address via the UPS website or contact the people that now live at your old address.
You should also contact the IRS immediately and have them update your information.
Can you use checks with old name?
Using checks with an old name might cause issues, as banks typically require current legal names for transactions. It’s advisable to update checks with your current name to avoid complications when depositing or cashing them.