To put it simply, a void cheque is a financial tool used primarily for quick and easy access to a person’s banking information. It has all of the data that a regular cheque would have, but because it is ‘voided’ – aka, the word ‘void’ is written across the front of the cheque in big, bolded letters – no financial institution will take it as payment.
Since all cheques have the intended recipient’s banking information written either on the front or the back, a voided cheque is a simple way to pass on that banking information to set up financial transactions like direct or recurring deposits without the risk of anyone using the cheque to submit payment. They’re a common tool and highly used in banks all over the world.
Over the last few years, the usage of void cheques has been steadily decreasing in popularity, primarily due to online tools and mobile banking. Oftentimes, a mobile banking app will have the same information that a voided cheque would have, making it needlessly cumbersome to carry around. Alternatively, many banks also now issue direct deposit forms. Direct deposit forms are similar to voided cheques in that they carry all the relevant bank information needed to set up a recurring transaction, but since they’re not cheques, eliminate any security issues entirely.
When to use a voided cheque
Void cheques are best used in situations where someone requires your banking information. They’re fast, efficient ways to show the receiving bank or financial institution:
- Your banking details, and
- The fact that you have a bank account open with another registered institution
In addition to simply showing the receiving bank your details, it also acts as a soft form of verification; people with bad intentions rarely have void cheques, because in order to access a chequebook, one usually needs to have developed some sort of trust with a previous financial institution. Therefore, void cheques act as a sort of social signal that you’re (somewhat) well adjusted, and many banks actually require either a void cheque or a direct deposit form in order to set up an account – even if you have all of your necessary banking information on hand.
Void cheques are often used by the self-employed, primarily because self-employed people are more likely to have to make payments to third parties, subcontractors, and vendors. As a tool, void cheques can be invaluable to the ease with which a sole proprietor or independent contractor sets up their business.
If you’re self-employed, we also recommend (in addition to void cheques) that you utilize software to generate your own invoices, create your own pay stubs, and manage your business efficiently. Setting up the proper banking information, accounting, and infrastructure can be critical to the longevity and success of any small business or sole proprietorship, so it’s important to take steps now to maximize the likelihood of your success.
How to get a voided cheque
Void cheques are, for the most part, easy to get. There are several ways to do so. First, you can request a void cheque from your bank – many banks have designated ‘void’ cheques with a standardized voiding procedure to maximize your security and decrease the likelihood of someone using that cheque to create a payment.
This approach can take some time, since usually the bank needs to print those cheques for you or order them in. An alternative approach is voiding cheques yourself. This allows you to do the voiding yourself, without needing to wait several days (or weeks) for a bank to print the voided cheques for you.
To void a cheque yourself, all you need to do is grab a thick pen (a sharpie or fine felt marker works best, because they’re very difficult to remove), take your cheque, and write “VOID” in large, capital letters. Ensure that your writing covers the length and height of the cheque, such that a malicious actor or criminal would be unable to piece together a cheque from multiple smaller pieces of the areas that you didn’t write over.
In the past, there was a concern that a criminal could simply take the paper, remove your writing (through elaborate means), and thus have access to a blank cheque with your – or your businesses – name on it. Today, it’s very difficult to “unvoid” a cheque, so simply writing the word “VOID” across it is usually good enough.
We hope you enjoyed our article on when to use and how to get a void cheque. Void cheques are invaluable tools for small businesses, the self-employed, and pretty much all users of modern financial institutions. Though they’re decreasing in popularity, it’s still essential to know how to use a void cheque in modern society – so pat yourself on the back!