Signing a check over to someone else is simple. However, it only works if the recipient can receive the check. The process is similar to endorsing a check as you normally would — by signing the back of the check — with an extra step: you must write “Pay to the order of [third party’s name]” in the endorsement area.
Handing a check to someone is useless unless the check is properly addressed to that person. If you want to pass a check along to a second recipient, you must sign it over. Signing over a check is easy and effective, as long as you do it correctly and the recipient can accept the kind of check you are trying to give them. Let’s go over how to endorse a check to someone else.
What it means to sign over a check
When you sign a check over to someone else, you authorize that person to access the funds in your stead. This is also known as “endorsing in full,” and it effectively turns the check into a third-party check.
After you sign over a check, you may no longer access the funds yourself. The third party can deposit the check into their bank account or cash it at a financial institution that accepts third-party checks.
A third-party check starts like any normal check: one party pays another party. The original payee can decide that he or she wants to designate a third party to receive the funds. The payee then endorses the check for a third party, at which point it becomes a third-party check.
How does a signed-over check work?
A third-party check isn’t too different from a regular check; it simply requires one more step. First, there must be an exchange of a check between two parties. Second, the payee must endorse the check to authorize a second payee to cash it. After that, the third party can cash the check. Any of the three parties may be an individual or a business entity.
There are certain cases in which you can write a third-party check to yourself. You just need to make sure you are the authorized signer.
Types of checks
You can sign just about any kind of check over to someone else. Here are the most common types of checks:
- Personal checks: Personal checks are the traditional type of checks that most people use. A personal check is a check signed by a bank account holder that authorizes the transfer of funds from the payer’s checking account to a payee. A counter check is a type of blank personal check that you can get from your bank and use instantly. If 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.
- Certified checks: Certified checks also pull funds from the issuer’s checking account. The main difference between certified checks and personal checks is that in the case of a certified check, the bank certifies that, when the check is issued, the issuer’s account has enough money available in the checking account balance to cover the check.
- Cashier’s checks: A cashier’s check represents the issuer’s money from a bank or credit union. However, the funds are backed by the issuing bank instead of the issuer’s checking account. In other words, the money belongs to the bank, not the issuer.
Pros and cons of endorsing a check to someone else
There are a few reasons why you might want to sign over a check — and a couple of reasons why you might not. If you’re thinking of signing over a check to someone else, first consider the following potential advantages and disadvantages:
Here is a list of the benefits and drawbacks to consider.
- Debt fulfillment
- Third-party cashing
- Cash alternative
- Check-cashing scams
- Limited use
- Debt fulfillment: You can use a check to pay money owed to another party.
- Third-party cashing: You may need to sign over a check so that someone else can cash it for you.
- Cash alternative: If you can’t pay with cash, you can use a third-party check instead.
- Check-cashing scams: Lotteries, online auctions, and secret shopping opportunities are common check-cashing scams to be aware of.
- Limited use: Not all banks and check-cashing stores accept signed-over checks.
How to sign a check over to someone else
Endorsing a check to a third party is simple. Follow these steps if you want to transfer your check to another party:
How to sign a check over to someone else
- Check that the recipient can accept the check
- Fill out the check correctly
- Endorse the check
- Deliver the check
Check that the recipient can accept the check
First, make sure your prospective recipient is willing and able to accept the check. Second, make sure the recipient’s bank or credit union accepts third-party checks if he or she intends to cash one there. Many banks don’t accept this type of check, but some do. The recipient can call their local bank branch or check the bank’s website to be sure.
If the recipient doesn’t have a bank account, many banks offer free checking accounts. This may be a great opportunity to set one up.
Fill out the check correctly
There’s no use in passing along an invalid check. Before endorsing a check to someone else, make sure the check is filled out correctly. It should include the date, the recipient’s name, the payment amount (in numbers and words), a memo, and your signature.
Endorse the check
To endorse the check, first sign the check on the endorsement top line. Then write “Pay to the order of” and the name of the third party to whom you want to transfer the check. Make sure you use a pen, not a pencil, to prevent the endorsement from being erased.
Deliver the check
Once you sign and state the name of the new recipient on the back of the check, you can give the check to the recipient. If the receiving bank account accepts third-party checks, the recipient can cash or deposit the check right away.
In some cases, you may need to mail a third-party check instead of handing it to someone directly. When mailing a check, make sure to follow the proper instructions to make sure it gets to its recipient safely.
Where to cash a third-party check
Cashing a check signed over to someone else is largely the same as cashing a regular check. First, make sure the institution where you intend to cash it accepts signed-over checks. Next, make sure you bring a government-issued photo ID to prove that the name on the check matches yours.
You can cash a third-party check at many of the same places where you can cash a regular check. However, some places don’t allow you to cash signed-over checks. The following are some establishments where you can cash a signed-over check:
Bank or credit union
Banks or credit unions are the best institutions to cash checks. You may even be able to cash a signed-over check at a financial institution you aren’t a member of. However, if you do this, you might have to pay a fee. Also keep in mind that not all banks will accept a third-party check.
Some institutions only accept checks in person. However, some allow you to cash checks at their ATMs, though only existing account holders are eligible for this service. Before attempting to cash a third-party check at an ATM, check with your local institution to make sure you’ll be able to.
Mobile check deposit is common nowadays, so you may be able to cash checks through your mobile device. Some online banks and credit unions offer check-cashing services through their online banking systems, and certain mobile apps allow you to cash checks without having a bank account. Once you submit the check through the app, hold on to it until the institution confirms it has cleared.
Check-cashing stores or currency exchanges can help you out with cashing a third-party check. Unfortunately, not every check-cashing company offers this third-party check-cashing service.
Alternatives to signing over a check
While signing a check over to someone else can be easy and convenient, you do have other options for paying people. Consider these options if your recipient’s bank doesn’t accept third-party checks, if he or she doesn’t have a bank account, or if you would rather not use up a check.
Here are a few alternative ways to pay people, with examples of scenarios in which they might be useful:
Let’s say you received a check from Alexis, and you owe David money. David doesn’t have a bank account, so the best way to pay him is with cash. All you have to do is deposit the check from Alexis into your own account. If you have enough money available in your checking account, you can withdraw cash at an ATM to pay David right away. Otherwise, you can wait for the funds from Alexis’s check to clear before withdrawing cash for David to make sure it doesn’t bounce.
Patrick wrote you a check for $60, and you owe Johnny $85. Instead of signing Patrick’s check over to Johnny and then paying an extra $25 in cash, you decide to deposit Patrick’s check into your checking account and then write Johnny a personal check for the full $85.
Personal checks have long been one of the most common forms of payment. However, younger generations are gravitating toward digital payment methods, so this method may not be the most effective depending on your recipient.
Peer-to-peer payment apps are a popular method of payment nowadays. You can easily send and receive money by connecting your bank account to apps like Venmo or CashApp.
For example, say you owe a friend $30 for lunch. Instead of signing over a check to them, it would be so much quicker and easier to Venmo her the money right on the spot.
ACH or wire transfers
ACH or wire transfers are useful for sending any amount of money. However, they are most commonly used to send larger amounts. ACH is a quick and convenient way to direct deposit money into another person or entity’s account.
Let’s say you hired Stevie to design your website. You have a check that you could sign over to her as payment. However, Stevie has a bank account at Wells Fargo, where third-party checks aren’t accepted, so you decide to transfer money directly into her account via ACH.
Can I deposit a check that’s not in my name?
You can’t deposit a check unless it has your name on it. You may, however, deposit a check if the original payee endorses it over to you. They only need to sign the back of the check and write “pay to the order of” and your name in the endorsement area. Make sure your bank accepts third-party check signing.
Can I deposit someone else’s check in my account?
You can only deposit someone else’s check in your account if they sign it over to you.
Can you mobile deposit a check made out to someone else?
Some banks allow you to mobile deposit third-party checks. However, this is only possible if the original check recipient signs the check over to you.
What are the three ways to endorse a check?
There are three main ways to endorse a check. The most common is a blank endorsement, in which the check recipient simply signs the back of the check. A restrictive endorsement is when the recipient signs the back of the check and includes a condition, such as “for deposit only.” An endorsement in full is the type of endorsement that signs the check over to someone else, creating a third-party check.
Do banks accept third-party checks?
Some do, but not all banks accept third-party checks. Check your bank’s website or give them a call to find out if you can deposit a third-party check.
How do I endorse a check to someone else for a mobile deposit?
Endorsing a check to someone else for a mobile deposit is the same as endorsing it for a physical deposit: sign the back and write “pay to the order of” and the person’s name.
- Signing a check over to someone is a convenient method of payment. Transferring a check to another recipient is known as endorsing in full, and it creates a third-party check.
- You can sign a check over to someone else by writing “pay to the order of” and the person or entity’s name in the endorsement area on the back of the check using a pen.
- Before signing over a check, make sure the check is filled out correctly and the recipient’s bank account accepts third-party checks.
- Alternatives to third-party checks include ACH or wire transfer, ATM withdrawal, peer-to-peer apps, and personal checks.
SuperMoney has several guides on everything you need to know about checks, such as how to void a check and the pros and cons of single vs. duplicate checks. If you’re looking to open a checking account and start writing checks, you can use our comparison tool to find the best checking account for you!
View Article Sources
- Endorsing a Check the Right Way at the Right Time – U.S. News
- How to Sign/Endorse a Check Over to Someone Else – Huntington National Bank
- What does it mean for a check to be endorsed “for deposit only”? – Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
- Can the bank refuse to cash an endorsed check? – HelpWithMyBank.gov