As long as the credit union or bank’s routing number and account number on your check are current, you can still use a check with an old address. Current address information is not as important as current checking account information, which is what financial institutions use to process checks. Occasionally a payee may need your current address but you can still use your old checks and supply them with your address another way.
These days, most people have to really think about when they last wrote a check. Between credit and debit cards, mobile apps, and online payments, there are few opportunities to use your checking account to actually write a check.
But then one day a service person comes to your house to tune up your furnace or air conditioning unit and they only accept cash or checks. You don’t have any cash, so you start a frantic search for your checkbook. You finally dig it up and find that all your checks still list your old address. Is this check still valid?
Keep reading to learn about the validity of checks with old information, how you can change this information, and your alternative payment method options.
Can I use a check with an old address?
The answer to this question is… probably. The important thing is that your checking account details are up-to-date, meaning your routing and account numbers belong to your current account even though the address is old.
Those account numbers tell the financial institution trying to process your check what bank or credit union (the routing number) and which account (your personal account number) they need to pull the funds from. If those items are accurate and up-to-date, no one should have any problem cashing your personal checks even if they have the wrong address.
Does it matter what address is on my checks?
As it turns out, the address printed on your checks is usually of very little importance, so the wrong address hardly matters. The main things that need to be on a valid check include the account and routing number, name of payee, the amount of the check, the date, and your signature.
In fact, the practice of printing the address on the face of checks has begun to fall out of favor, with many individuals choosing to leave that area blank for the purposes of privacy or security. In the few cases where a check recipient might need your address for verification purchases — perhaps to a government agency or similar — you can always show your identification, give them the address verbally, write the address on the check in pen, or stick an address label onto the check.
Can I still use the checks with the wrong address?
There is no reason why you can’t use up that old checkbook that still has the wrong address. However, make sure you let the payee know your current address differs from the one listed on the check. This way, if a receipt needs to be mailed to you or further correspondence is required, they have the correct address.
This would also be a good time to check with your bank or credit union to ensure they also have your correct information, including your new address. Unless you’re enrolled in paperless banking, they may need to send you bank statements or other important information through the mail. This is personal information you definitely don’t want in the wrong hands, so you want to make sure your financial institution has the correct address.
Can I use a check with an old address if I changed financial institutions?
If you also changed banks or credit unions as part of your move, then your account number is no longer valid. Knowingly writing checks on an account you know has no available funds is a form of fraud. We highly recommend you don’t do this because you could wind up in jail.
Sometimes, though, the routing and account number could be wrong because your bank or credit union merged with another financial institution and you weren’t aware of it. (Maybe you didn’t get that correspondence because they have your incorrect address?) If you become aware of this, notify the financial institution and the recipient of the check immediately about this misunderstanding so you can quickly rectify the situation and issue a new, valid check.
Looking for a new bank or credit union? Maybe you haven’t made the change yet, but you’ve been looking at opening a new checking account. You may want to take a look at these vendors to find an institution that fits your financial goals.
What if I can’t use my checks?
In the event that you either don’t have any checks or the ones you do have aren’t valid, there are several other ways to make the necessary payments.
The most obvious solution is to simply order checks. Chances are you’ll need to write another check at some point, so it’s useful to have some on hand. However, if you need a check right away, here are some other options:
- Temporary checks. Your bank or credit union should be able to issue you a few temporary checks (sometimes called counter checks) to tide you over until your new ones arrive. Fortunately, these checks don’t take long to print and will contain the correct routing and account numbers. There may be a small fee, but many financial institutions will do this free of charge for account holders.
- Cashier’s check. Your bank or credit union can also issue a cashier’s check if needed, and many recipients might even prefer this to a personal check. With a cashier’s check, your financial institution guarantees the check amount, meaning there’s little to no chance the check will bounce. Most banks or credit unions charge for this service, but this fee may be waived if you meet certain requirements.
- Money order. A money order is another good option if you need a check quickly. You can purchase these at banks, credit unions, the post office, your local currency exchange, or even a convenience store or pharmacy, for a fee. This type of “check” is also a guaranteed form of payment, so you may find more vendors are willing to accept money orders than regular checks anyway.
Alternative payment methods
Another option if you don’t have any checks might be to see if the recipient will accept another form of payment, such as a peer-to-peer money transfer app like Venmo. PayPal (and similar applications) is another payment method.
What to do with old checks that can’t be used?
If you have old checks, say from a bank account you closed years ago, you’ll want to make sure to properly dispose of them. If someone with less-than-honest intentions gets ahold of them, they might be able to write quite a few bad checks in your name before anyone realizes what’s happened.
To safely get rid of the checks, you should burn them, put them through a shredder, or even cut them into tiny pieces and place them in different trash bags. You could also give them to a financial institution or shredder service for proper disposal; they no doubt have a shredder and also don’t want them falling into the wrong hands.
Can I still use my old checkbook?
As long as the account is active and the routing and account numbers are correct, there is no reason to throw out a perfectly good checkbook. You can still use up those checks even with an old address.
As mentioned earlier, you could paste an address label with the correct address or even cross out the old address and write in a new one in blue or black pen. However, in most cases that may not even be necessary.
Can you use checks out of order?
There is no legal reason you have to write your checks in the correct numeric order. A bank or credit union will process valid checks no matter what order they’re in. The only time it may lead to confusion is when you balance your checkbook.
- You can use a check with an old address as long as the credit union or bank’s routing number and your account number are correct.
- Having your address on a personal check is not legally required for a check to be valid.
- Your account and routing numbers may change if your bank or credit union merges with another financial institution.
- Cashier’s checks and money orders are perfectly acceptable ways to pay by check if you need to.
View Article Sources
- Checking Accounts: More Questions to Ask — Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation
- Writing a Check: Understanding Your Rights — Office of the Comptroller of the Currency
- How to Void a Check — SuperMoney
- How Long Does It Take For A Check To Clear — SuperMoney
- Bounced Check: What To Do When You Write Or Get One — SuperMoney
- How To Mail a Check Safely and Can You Fold It? — SuperMoney
- How to Open a Checking Account — SuperMoney
- Single vs. Duplicate Checks: What Are the Differences? — SuperMoney
- Best Checking Accounts | May 2022 — SuperMoney