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I live in the United States, and on checks I've always put "Exactly X dollars" and a line all the way to the far right for values without cents. Last time I wrote a check to my landlord, she came over to ask me to rewrite the check so it says "X dollars and 00/100" because she said it'd be rejected by the bank. I did it, no point in arguing, but I've never encountered issues with it before.

Is putting "Exactly X dollars-------" on a check acceptable?

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  • I don't use the word "exactly", but I always draw a line through the remaining space, whether I have cents or not. "X dollars ----------------", "X and Y hundredths dollars -------------", etc. It's possible the bank wants to see some sort of guard against someone other than the check writer extending the amount to cash, but it would surprise me.
    – chepner
    Sep 1 at 16:55
  • It's odd and suspicious, but I can imagine "Exactly X dollars and Y dollars" being legal, so simply prefixing your amount with "Exactly" wouldn't be adequate protection.
    – chepner
    Sep 1 at 16:58
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    I don't know about the USA, but the tradition in the UK for hand-written cheques (we spell them different here) is to put "only" on the end: "X pounds only".
    – Simon B
    Sep 1 at 19:48
  • @SimonB In my experience (and the research I did before asking here), I've seen "only" used/referenced when the check is for less than a whole dollar, such as "Only fifty cents." That's still comparable and a good data point, though. Thanks! Sep 1 at 19:53
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    “Exactly” is superfluous, since there are no approximate numbers on checks. The long line was drilled into us 50 years ago as being an important anti-tampering technique.
    – RonJohn
    Sep 2 at 1:50

4 Answers 4

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It may be more of a policy consideration per bank. I asked a head teller at a local branch and was told that the two lines, the numeric and the expression lines much match. Exactly x dollars on the expression line and x.00 or x 00/100 on the numeric line will match.

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In the UK, the custom is (or was, since cheques are barely used nowadays) to write “Eight Pounds Only” on a cheque for exactly £8.

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I've been using the form "One Thousand Three Hundred and Twelve Dollars Exactly" for decades. Note that the "Exactly" is placed to indicate that there are no fractional dollars (cents), which would otherwise be written at that point in the text.

Your landlord is confused. However, as you say, there is no point in arguing about it; you want them to feel comfortable accepting the check.

And seriously, these days fraud by alteration of checks is vanishingly rare. I just like using that style.

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Writing Exactly X dollars------- doesn't completely prevent alteration. For example you can change to Exactly X dollars-99/100, having 99 above your line and 100 below. The check would then become invalid (numbers won't match). Writing it in the way your landlord asked prevents such an alteration.

You should write checks in a way that would prevent alterations as much as possible. Your landlord is correct.

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  • Wonder why the downvoters disagree...
    – littleadv
    Sep 2 at 14:09
  • I mean, you can do that with the 00/100. Someone could put 100/100 and get a whole extra dollar. Sep 2 at 19:51
  • Facetiousness aside, this doesn't answer the question, which is whether the bank would accept a check with the word "exactly." Sep 2 at 19:58
  • the bank would accept it as long as the words and the numbers match. But making them not match would be much easier if going with your way. It is not necessarily to "get a whole extra dollar", but for example to force you into paying late fees or into a technical default (e.g.: giving cause for eviction). Why would you want to let others do that to you?
    – littleadv
    Sep 2 at 22:08

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