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I recently opened an account at a credit union here, which includes a checking account. They gave me a book of checks on the spot.

Are they valid and usable? They simply came out of the drawer and don't have my name on it or anything.

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    I'd be a bit concerned about the professionalism of the credit union if they didn't explain to you that those were starter checks, and that you can use them until you get your printed checks (as well as when you should expect the printed checks).
    – Doktor J
    Jul 19, 2015 at 7:07

3 Answers 3

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Checks like these are called starter checks. You are meant to use them until you have time to order real checks.

They are completely valid. You should have no trouble using them for paying your monthly bills, as utility companies and the like do not hand process payments. Their computers scan the banking information and read the payment amount entered in the numeric display.

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    But paying people with them might be harder, depending on the person. Computers are chill, but people are kinda spazy sometimes.
    – MrChrister
    Aug 18, 2010 at 19:39
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    @MrChrister: Yes. Individual people generally have no problem accepting them. Small businesses on the other hand tend to have bigger issues. It's that middle zone that causes trouble. I don't think this is an issue for most people as checks are less and less welcomed at businesses of all sorts as debit cards become the most common method of bank-transactions. Long story short, you probably want to get checks printed as soon as you can.
    – theo
    Aug 18, 2010 at 19:43
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    Theoretically, anything piece of paper (and some things which are not paper) can be used as a check. Practically, a lot of places don't want starter checks. For instance, my online bank account won't let me deposit any starter checks from other people.
    – user296
    Aug 18, 2010 at 22:35
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    @theo - ING Direct; you mail them in. Presumably it's an anti-fraud issue.
    – user296
    Aug 19, 2010 at 22:06
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    @theo - yes, my little sister sent me one of her starter checks to pay me back for something (I'd purchased her a plane ticket for a vacation for convenience) and ING sent it straight back saying "no starter checks please". Also, ING doesn't use deposit slips; you write account information in your endorsement section. so there you go.
    – user296
    Aug 20, 2010 at 17:15
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A lot of places will not accept checks without your printed name/address on them.

However, if they have your account number and routing number at the bottom, then yeah they are real checks.

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    I've been allowed to use checks like these by writing my name and address in by hand.
    – justkt
    Aug 17, 2010 at 17:34
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    Checks like these are called starter checks. You are meant to use them until you have time to order real checks. They are completely valid. You should have no trouble using them for paying your monthly bills, as utility companies and the like do not hand process payments. Their computers scan the banking information and read the payment amount entered in the numeric display.
    – theo
    Aug 18, 2010 at 0:41
  • @theo - thanks for the clarification. If you want to post it as an answer, I'd gladly accept that instead of this one.
    – Corey
    Aug 18, 2010 at 7:14
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As far as I know, there is no legal standard for a check. It is in effect just an IOU in the standard form that a bank will pay out for you. If you can get a merchant to accept it and your bank to honor it you could write a note on a napkin that says:

I authorize my bank to pay merchantABC $500 from my account.

Love, Snookums.
(Your Signature and the current date)

Some funny stories about weird checks in this Straight Dope article: Can you write a check on any old piece of paper?

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    Curious about the down-vote. Am I mistaken on one of the facts?
    – JohnFx
    Aug 21, 2010 at 22:24
  • The laws have drastically changed since 9/11 on the handling of, and requirements around, checks. The inability to move checks by air after the terrorist attacks of 2001 prompted a complete redesign of check processing. That's why, among other things, you don't get paper checks back anymore. They must now be digitizable to be processed. So the rules are now totally different and all those old stories inapplicable. Jul 6, 2017 at 9:20

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