What Is a Voided Check for Direct Deposit?

By Ashley Kilroy · November 21, 2023 · 7 minute read

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What Is a Voided Check for Direct Deposit?

Employers often need a voided check for an employee’s payroll direct deposit to be established. Direct deposit is America’s preferred way to get paid, according to a 2020 American Payroll Association survey. In fact, 94% of respondents would rather have direct deposit to ensure they get paid on time than a paper check.

If you agree that direct deposit is the way to go, you’ll likely need a voided check to get started. In this article, we explain what a voided check is, why you may want to use one, and alternative ways to provide your banking information.

Key Points

•   A voided check is used to establish direct deposit or bill pay and is not used for deposit or cashing purposes.

•   To void a check, write “VOID” across it, ensuring it doesn’t cover routing and account information.

•   Reasons to void a check include setting up direct deposit with employers or government benefits and establishing automatic bill pay.

•   After voiding a check, it may take a few days for direct deposit or autopay to be established.

•   Alternatives to a voided check include using a direct deposit form, previewing a check online, entering bank information online, or requesting a counter check at a bank branch.

Definition of a Voided Check

First of all, what is a voided check for direct deposit? When you write the word “VOID” on a blank check, it becomes a voided check. This type of check is not used for deposit or cashing purposes.

Instead, the voided check can be used to establish a direct deposit or bill pay. Establishing direct deposit or online bill pay eliminates the hassle of going to the bank to make payments or deposit your paycheck. It also automates your transactions to speed delivery and help you keep tabs on the money going in and out of your account.

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How to Void a Check

Fortunately, if you need a voided check, all you need to do is peel off one of the checks from your checkbook and simply write “VOID” across it.

Write the word large enough so someone can’t accidentally use the check for a deposit. However, don’t make it too large that it covers up your routing and account information at the bottom of the check.

You can also write “VOID” in several other places on the check:

•  Date line

•  Payee line

•  Signature line

•  Sum box or line

Avoid using a pencil or other tool that is easy to erase. Use blue or black ink that cannot be altered. Then make a note of the check number in your check registrar. Later, if that check number clears for some reason, you can contact your bank immediately to dispute it.

Helpful hint: If you ever make a mistake writing a check, you may want to void it and keep the check on file instead of tossing or shredding it. This way you have a record of what happened to the check.

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Reasons to Void a Check

Providing a voided check is a convenient way to share your banking information for a valid purpose. After all, copying your banking information (routing and account number) by hand leaves you vulnerable to mistakes.

Here are the top reasons to void a check:

•  Set up direct deposit with your employer for wages, salary, or expense reimbursement. Employers often let workers set up direct deposit instead of receiving a physical paycheck, and a voided check speeds the process.

•  Set up direct deposit for government benefits. Unemployment benefits and Social Security payments may be delivered by direct deposit instead of a mailed check. This way, both parties can enjoy the increased security of a digital transaction.

•  Establish automatic bill pay for loans, utility bills, or other payments. You may have the option to set up automatic payments for bills such as an auto loan or mortgage. Setting up auto-pay helps ensure you don’t miss a payment.

•  Void checks with mistakes. If you are writing a check and make a mistake, you can write “VOID” across it, so no one uses or deposits it.

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What to Expect After Voiding a Check

After you submit your voided check with the required paperwork for direct deposit, it may take a few days to complete the setup process. Typically, employers will establish the direct deposit within one or two paycheck cycles.

This is also true for government benefits like Social Security. Once direct deposit is established, you’ll know exactly when deposits will hit your account. With Social Security, for example, benefits are sent on the second, third, or fourth Wednesday of the month. Which Wednesday you receive payment on depends on your birthday.

With direct deposit, you can use the money in your account immediately since there’s no temporary hold on deposits.

With auto-pay, funds are withdrawn from your account based on a bill’s due date. Some businesses give you a choice of dates to submit payment.

With automated deposits and payments becoming increasingly common, it’s wise to set up an online budget planner to track money going in and out. This can help you avoid overdrafting your account.

Alternatives to a Voided Check

Aside from a voided check, you have other options to establish autopay or direct deposit. Here are some alternatives:

•  Direct deposit form. Some employers may let you use a direct deposit form without a voided check. In this case, ensure you complete your bank information correctly.

•  Preview a check. Some financial institutions let you “preview” your checks on your bank or credit union’s website before you order them online. If your financial insulation allows this, you might be able to print out the preview and write “VOID” across it.

•  Enter bank information online. Depending on how your employer sets up direct deposit, you might have the option to connect directly to your bank account through your company’s payroll website. Just enter your bank information instead of supplying a voided paper check.

•  Request a counter check at a bank branch. You may have the option to request a “counter check” at your local bank branch. You can use this specially printed check containing your bank information for your voided check. Some banks charge a fee for this service.

And of course, you can always contact your bank or credit union to order checks. Keep in mind that check writing abilities are not offered with some bank accounts. In this case, you may need to open a separate checking account.

The Takeaway

When you write “VOID” on a check, it becomes a voided check you can use to set up auto-pay or direct deposit. Voided checks are not available for deposit or cashing. Once you submit your forms and voided check, employers can usually establish direct deposit within a few days. Another option is to request a “counter check” from your bank branch and void that, though some banks may charge a fee for this service.

A money tracker tool like SoFi’s can aid your money management efforts. You can link all of your accounts, view spending breakdowns, and gain financial insights all in one place and at no cost.

Get started with SoFi today!


What happens if you don’t have a voided check for direct deposit?

If you don’t have a voided check for direct deposit, you can visit your bank to get a counter check, set up direct deposit online, or print a copy of a preview check.

How do I get a voided check online?

When you order checks online, your bank may show a preview of the check to allow you to check its accuracy. Sometimes you can print the preview check and write “VOID” on it instead of using an actual voided check.

What is a voided check used for?

You can use a voided check to set up direct deposit with your employer or government offices like Unemployment or Social Security. You can also use voided checks to establish automatic bill pay for loans or utilities.

Photo credit: iStock/MicroStockHub

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