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Checkbook Definition & Meaning

A checkbook typically consists of a pad with paper checks you can use to pay bills and make purchases with the money in your checking account. Typically when customers pay bills with cheques (like gas or water bills), the mail will go to a “lock box” at the post office. There a bank will pick up all the mail, sort it, open it, take the cheques and remittance advice out, process it all through electronic machinery, and post the funds to the proper accounts. In modern systems, taking advantage of the Check 21 Act, as in the United States many cheques are transformed into electronic objects and the paper is destroyed. Although the UK did not adopt the euro as its national currency when other European countries did in 1999, many banks began offering euro denominated accounts with chequebooks, principally to business customers. The same year, the C&CCC set up the euro cheque clearing system to process euro denominated cheques separately from sterling cheques in Great Britain.

“T + 6” is the last day that a cheque can bounce without the recipient’s permission—this is known as “certainty of fate”. A payee that accepts a cheque will typically deposit it in an account at the payee’s bank, and have the bank process the cheque. In some cases, the payee will take the cheque to a branch of the drawee bank, and cash the cheque there. If a cheque is refused at the drawee bank (or the drawee bank returns the cheque to the bank that it was deposited at) because there are insufficient funds for the cheque to clear, it is said that the cheque has been dishonoured. Once a cheque is approved and all appropriate accounts involved have been credited, the cheque is stamped with some kind of cancellation mark, such as a “paid” stamp.


There may also be a beneficiary—for example, in depositing a cheque with a custodian of a brokerage account, the payee will be the custodian, but the cheque may be marked “F/B/O” (“for the benefit of”) the beneficiary. An issue date was added, and cheques may become invalid a certain amount of time after issue. In the US and Canada,[25][26] a cheque is typically valid for six months after the date of issue, after which it is a stale-dated cheque, but this depends on where the cheque is drawn. In Australia, a cheque is typically valid for fifteen months of the cheque date.[27] A cheque that has an issue date in the future, a post-dated cheque, may not be able to be presented until that date has passed. In some countries writing a post dated cheque may simply be ignored or is illegal. Until about 1770, an informal exchange of cheques took place between London banks.

Checkbook Definition

For instance, some government agencies or utility companies won’t accept electronic payments for property taxes or water bills at their offices. However, many use electronic payment services that charge you fees to avoid payment processor and other third-party fees. When you enter deposit https://accounting-services.net/bookkeeping-joliet/ or payment amounts into the register and add or subtract them from your balance, you have a quick reference for how much accessible money you have in your account. However, checks can take up to a few days to process and clear, or the recipient may not cash them right away.

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Dishonoured payments from current accounts can be marked in the same manner as missed payments on the customer’s credit report. Oversized cheques are often used in public events such as donating money to charity or giving out prizes such as Publishers Clearing House. The cheques are commonly 18 by 36 inches (46 cm × 91 cm) in size;[33] however, according to the Guinness Book of World Records, the largest ever is 12 by 25 metres (39 ft × 82 ft).[34] Until recently[when? Most banks need to have the machine-readable information on the bottom of cheques read electronically, so only very limited dimensions can be allowed due to standardised equipment. When a certified cheque is drawn, the bank operating the account verifies there are currently sufficient funds in the drawer’s account to honour the cheque. Those funds are then set aside in the bank’s internal account until the cheque is cashed or returned by the payee.

Paper money evolved from promissory notes, another form of negotiable instrument similar to cheques in that they were originally a written order to pay the given amount to whoever had it in their possession (the “bearer”). In 1969 cheque guarantee cards were introduced in several countries, allowing a retailer to confirm that a cheque would be honored when used at a point of sale. The drawer Checkbook Definition would sign the cheque in front of the retailer, who would compare the signature to the signature on the card and then write the cheque-guarantee-card number on the back of the cheque. Such cards were generally phased out and replaced by debit cards, starting in the mid-1990s. Checkbooks are not used as often as they used to be, but you might need to use a check in some instances.

Alternatives to cheques

In an increasing number of countries cheques have either become a marginal payment system or have been completely phased out. The only methods generally available for individuals and small businesses to make payments electronically are electronic funds transfers (EFT) or accepting credit cards. Generally, payments by cheque (as long as the payer has funds in their account) and the recipient deposits it to their bank account, regardless of amount, have a service charge to both parties of zero. In Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, and Iceland, giro transfers have been standard procedure since the 1950s for regular payments like rent and wages and even mail-order invoices.

  • Those funds are then set aside in the bank’s internal account until the cheque is cashed or returned by the payee.
  • Before being handed over in exchange for goods or services or any payment, a customer must fill out certain information on the check and then sign it.
  • Since the early 1990s, this method of payment has also been available to merchants.
  • This makes the cheque non-transferable and is to avoid cheques being endorsed and paid into an account other than that of the named payee.

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