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If I want to write a check from one of my accounts, I can obviously order a checkbook.
The thing is, I don't want or need a whole checkbook. I might just need, like, 1 check. Maybe 2.

Now, banks nowadays allow depositing checks from just scanning them via a mobile app.
So, really, most/all security features of the check (e.g. magnetic ink) are kind of irrelevant nowadays.

Assuming both parties involved in the transaction are fine with this, how can I actually print my own check so that it looks like a check I ordered by mail? Are there templates out there somewhere?

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    If your goal is just to avoid the inconvenience of ordering an entire checkbook for a couple checks, some banks offer services where they print and mail a check for you (my bank calls it "bill pay", but you can put any name and address in), or will give you a blank check if you visit a branch. – user40002 Dec 14 '16 at 13:37
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    For 1 or 2 checks, your neighborbood post office or convenience store can print money orders – user662852 Dec 14 '16 at 20:42
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    @user662852: That involves wasting gas and paper and money. I'm trying to just print one at home if I can. I wasn't asking for alternatives. – Mehrdad Dec 14 '16 at 22:56
  • What's with all the haters downvoting and not leaving a comment as to why? What's wrong with the question? – Mehrdad Jun 26 '17 at 20:14
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There are certain standards that modern checks need to meet. These aren't required by law, but banks today generally insist on them. If you are able to meet these standards and print your own checks at home, you are allowed to do so.

One way this is commonly done is with purchased check blanks and check printing software. Office supply stores sell check blanks that fit into standard computer printers. This check paper includes the necessary security features of checks, and using the check printing software, you can print your personal information, including your name & address, your bank's name and address, and your account numbers.

The account numbers on the bottom of the checks are called the MICR code, which stands for Magnetic Ink Character Recognition. Normally, these numbers were printed with special magnetic ink, which was used in automated check reading machines. Checks that you purchase from your bank still use magnetic ink; however, modern check readers are optical, and don't require magnetic ink. So you should be able to print checks with your printer using standard ink/toner, and not have a problem.

Without purpose-specific check printing software, you could still buy blank check paper from the store, and with a little trial-and-error you could print using Excel. The biggest challenge with doing this would be printing the MICR code: you would probably need to install an MICR font on your computer and play around with the size and location until you get it where you want it. Doing a little Googling, I see that there are some check printing Excel templates out there, but I haven't tried any of these, and it is unclear to me whether they actually print the MICR, or whether they assume that you have blank checks with the MICR account number and check numbers already printed.

Without purchasing blank check paper, you won't have any of the security features, such as microprinting, watermarks, erasure protection, anti-photocopying background, etc. As you mentioned, if you are depositing checks via mobile phone app, as some banks now allow, none of these security features are doing any good. The problem, however, is that you are not writing checks for yourself; you are writing checks to other people, and you have no way of knowing whether or not their banks are going to give them trouble with your checks. There is enough check fraud out there that lots of bank tellers are very cautious. I recommend sticking with check paper that has the security features because, if nothing else, it will make your check look more like a real check.

  • I mean, how would the bank be able to tell if the check is a special check paper bought from a store or just a blank piece of paper if I end up depositing it by taking a picture with my phone? Also, the entire point is to not have to buy lots of checks when I might only need a couple, so this would kind of defeat the point. – Mehrdad Dec 14 '16 at 20:29
  • @Mehrdad I anticipated your comment (Ha!) and have already added a paragraph addressing it. – Ben Miller Dec 14 '16 at 20:30
  • @Mehrdad I agree that having to go through all of this sort of negates the advantage you were looking for in printing your own, but in my opinion, it can't be helped. It is up to you whether or not you think your homemade checks will be good enough to be accepted. All you can do is try it and see, I guess. But be careful who you give them to: businesses really don't like it when you give them a check that they can't deposit. – Ben Miller Dec 14 '16 at 20:33
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    @Mehrdad I have to agree with the other commenters; if you truly have so little need for checks that you can't justify ordering a $10 box of checks that will last you a lifetime, then use another option: bill pay, money order, cashier's check, etc. But it only takes paying a money order fee a few times, and you will wish you had just bought some checks. – Ben Miller Dec 14 '16 at 20:47
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    @Mehrdad I believe your question was "How can I print my own checks," and I gave you lots of options for printing your own checks, along with some of the difficulties you will encounter. I'm sorry you didn't find it helpful. Perhaps there is a reason that most people don't print their own. – Ben Miller Dec 15 '16 at 0:03

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protected by Chris W. Rea Sep 9 '17 at 18:43

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