Counter checks, often called starter checks, are given to customers by personal bank tellers. They are primarily used when a person opens up a new checking account. A bank also gives counter checks to customers when they run out of regular checks. Counter checks have a high rate of fraud, and institutions, merchants and individuals should be careful when accepting them.
Counter checks are blank checks that do not have the account holder's imprinted name and address information at the top and, sometimes, also lack the account number. They are used when a checking account holder runs out of imprinted checks or before checks are imprinted for a new account.
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Description of Counter Checks
A counter check is a blank check issued by a bank or credit union that does not contain a check number, a person's name or address. Many counter checks also do not have an account number pre-printed on them. Counter checks do have the bank's routing number on the bottom of the check.
A counter check is drawn on an individual's bank account. It is not the same as a cashier's check or money order.
Uses for Counter Checks
If a customer runs out of checks and needs one immediately to make payments or withdrawals, the bank may provide the customer with a counter check. Sometimes the bank imprints the customer's account number on the bottom; other times the customer must write it in.
When a person opens a new checking account, the bank generally gives the customer a small book of counter checks. The book may contain approximately five to 10 counter checks and are often called starter checks. These checks do contain the customer's account number and the bank's ABA routing number, but the customer's name and address are not printed on them.
Writing Counter Checks
- Fill out the counter check properly. When a customer uses a counter check, the customer must fill in his name and address, as well as the name of the payee and the amount of the check. They can also fill in their phone number, driver's license number or Social Security number. The customer must also choose a check number for each check written, which is handwritten at the top of the check.
- Use official checks as soon as you receive them. As soon as a customer opens a checking account, the bank typically orders personal checks and a debit card for the customer. When these arrive, the customer should destroy any remaining counter checks and begin using the official checks. The official checks have the customer's name and address printed on them. They also have the bank's routing number and the checking account number and are in sequential check number order.
Problems With Counter Checks
Many retail places will not accept counter checks because they are not official checks. Typically, counter checks are accepted for payments by utility companies and loan companies. Many recipients of counter checks feel that there is a higher risk involved when accepting these types of checks because the person does not have an established account yet.
Common Check Questions
These are a few FAQs about counter checks:
What Is the Purpose of a Counter Check?
A counter check is intended to serve temporarily if the customer runs out of checks or is waiting to receive checks from opening a new account.
Can You Give Someone a Counter Check?
You can issue a counter check to any individual or merchant that is willing to accept one.
Is a Counter Check the Same as a Personal Check?
Yes. Counter checks are a valid form of payment, the same as pre-printed personal checks.
Does a Counter Check Expire?
Counter checks do not have expiration dates, but they should be destroyed as soon as the customer receives a supply of pre-printed personal checks.