Suppose my full legal name is Sam Sawyer Abraham and my wife's name is Sandra Connor Abraham. We would like to open a joint checking account at a bank in the USA. We will be depositing checks through the ATM and through the mobile app. We have not decided yet which bank to use.

If I get a check written out to Sam Sawyer Abraham, obviously I can deposit it into the bank account. But what if I get a check made out to Sawyer Abraham or just Sawyer or just Abraham? What if I get a check made out to Friends of Sawyer Abraham? Will I be able to deposit all these checks into this bank account? How much variance is allowed?

  • Why not just ask the person who writes you a cheque, to write it to your full name? You can give them the name to use. May 21, 2020 at 16:14
  • 2
    I'm rarely in a situation where I have the opportunity to specify what name to put on a check. Almost always they just show up.
    – Reid
    May 21, 2020 at 17:19

3 Answers 3


Check with the procedure to be followed by your bank.

They should have no problem with known variations on a name: Samuel, Sam, Sammy; Michael, Mike; William, Will, Bill, Billy.

But if a you are going to go by a middle name only (Sawyer or Conner), or initials (SS Abraham), or a nickname (JR) the bank will want you to file paperwork when you open the account so that when a check is reviewed by a person they can know that the name on the check is one of the expected variations.

There will be a similar policy and procedure for business accounts. When my kids were younger the bank would recognize the following names for the cub scout pack: Pack 42, Cub pack 42, Troop 42, BSA Pack 42 ....

I would be surprised if they would accept a check with only the last name, or only the first name, but you never know. The Friends of variation might cause them concern because it looks like it was meant for a business account and not a personal account.


Although your experience might differ, I have had no difficulty depositing cheques made out to any name, as long as the intended recipient has properly endorsed the cheque (and, of course, I have their permission to deposit the cheque).

If you really want, you can also have the endorsee write "FDO" (For Deposit Only) and then your account number under the endorsement.

Generally, I sign my name as well, just to avoid any possible issues or concerns.

I'm always a little surprised that this works, but I've never had a single issue.

I imagine the policy could vary amongst banks.


My experience is that banks will accept all kinds of variations. Unless you have specific reason to be worried (e.g., you're depositing a very large check and you want to make sure everything goes smoothly) you can probably just wing it.

My first name is Brendan. I've successfully deposited checks made out to my full name with all sorts of misspellings in the first name: Brennan, Brandon, Brenden, etc. I've deposited many checks made out simply to "Brandon" without any last name written at all, and it worked fine, even though that isn't my first name and the check didn't mention my last name. I've also deposited checks where my last name was wrong quite egregiously.

Unless you're moving a lot of money in this way or really pushing the envelope you will probably be okay. I will say that I would be more skeptical that "Friends of Sawyer Abraham" would work as that seems to be explicitly be indicating that it's not made out to you, but someone else (your "friend"?). But I wouldn't be surprised if it worked.

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