The simple answer to whether you can print checks from the comfort of your own home is “yes.”
It is legal to write a paper check if you report the routing and account numbers correctly and clearly. The problem, however, lies in getting the handwritten document approved at a bank branch and not having it confiscated as a forgery.
Because of this, banks do not encourage handwritten checks for some obvious and other little-known reasons.
With the advancement of check writing software and remote technology during the work-from-home era, paper checks are slowly becoming an item of the past. Nonetheless, we will let you know what you can do to create acceptable checks that “check” all the official boxes.
Official checks require a particular font and magnetic ink. Developed in the 1950s, the font and the special ink allow large machines to quickly read the checks and provide account access to process the document.
Magnetic Ink Character Recognition (MICR) type in conjunction with MICR magnetized ink authenticates the information on the check.
It is a nine-digit code, usually on the bottom left of the check, that contains the bank routing number, account number, check number, and bank branches with permission to honor the document.
In addition, you can place specific MICR-coded directions elsewhere on the check. One example would be a limit to the time a person must present the check for it to be honored.
MICT technology allows human beings to read the codes and the processor. Consequently, the process is more accurate and faster than traditional optical character recognition (OCR) encoded documents.
What You Will Need
You probably already have everything you need to print checks at home except the special ink. There are, however, a few things to consider beforehand.
The amount necessary for some items may depend on how many checks you will need to print. Are you planning to run off a few personalized checks for your use, or do you need a small payroll or bill-paying component?
Decide what your needs are before purchasing any additional equipment or supplies.
Every printer has MICR fonts preinstalled—always check in advance, but the printer should be compatible with magnetized ink. Why a printer might offer the font but not be able to use the correct ink remains a mystery.
Also, consider the difference between an inkjet and a laser printer. Inkjet printing can become streaky or smeared when exposed to moisture. Will the at-home printed checks require mailing?
Inkjet printers allow the magnetized ink to sit in inkwells. Consequently, the ionic portion that affects a magnetic field collects at the bottom; inkjet toner used in laser printers corrects that issue.
You will, of course, need magnetized ink to go along with your appropriate printer. While this type of ink may make you believe it will function like a magnet, magnetized ink is not actually magnetized, only sensitive to a magnetic field.
In other words, you won’t have to worry about your ink drawing paper clips and staples from your desk toward your printer.
Check Stock Paper
Again, while it is true that you can print checks on thin recycled general-use paper, the preferred medium is called Check Paper Stock. The weight and durability of these perforated sheets are specifically designed; with this use, they can come in colors and designs.
Another option is to purchase pre-printed checks from a print shop. You can enter these into your printer with all the pre-printed MICR information. All you add is the amount and payee. You can still say you printed your check at home.
Check Writing Software
There are stand-alone programs for check writing, or if you already own a money management program such as QuickBooks or Quicken, you already have check writing software.
Money management programs offer additional benefits. For example, when you print a check, it automatically deducts it from your account, saving time and errors. In addition, these financial management programs have options with reminders for recurring payments by check. There is a separate application for single-time check payments.
Online safety should always be a concern. Because most of this software is added only to your computer, there is less exposure from the far reaches of the internet realm.
There are software programs, however, that do use cloud-based storage. This feature may open the door to increased risk.
Consequently, maintaining an up-to-date anti-virus protection plan on your laptop or PC is essential.
As you become more comfortable printing checks at home, you can add specialized designs to your creation.
For example, add a family crest or initials to the end product. If you want, it is possible to engrave a picture of your beloved puppy on the check as well.
Many people thrive on having the ability to customize aspects of their lives to suit their personalities, and this is another one of those moments where you can express your creativity.
Additional Features to Consider
One item some at-home check writers need to include is a check register. Many at-home check-writing programs provide a reproduction of the old check register to use online.
It is a throwback concept, much like using an old telephone ringtone for their phone app. It isn’t easy to let go of some things.
Another consideration applies if you plan to make frequent deposits at a bank branch. For example, collected rents or eBay payments.
Look for a program that can print deposit slips; it will save time and prevent stress and errors while physically at the bank. Having the deposit correct ahead of time is powerfully strengthening emotionally.
The last worry is similar to using a public vs. a private network. If anyone else has access to your supplies, computer, and passwords, they can write checks. As a result, ensure you have closed out all financial windows upon completion of each session.
The Bottom Line
Printing checks at home becomes more accessible and mainstream with each passing year as technology continues its inevitable march into more sophisticated territory.
The advances in our lives that the world wide web has influenced are innumerable. New technology and apps allow businesses to do everything virtually such as sharing large files, organizing receipts and invoices, and now writing online checks. Indeed, the internet has influenced a few aspects of our lives more than financial control.
With technological advances allowing for safe and timely financial transactions to occur from any home, it only makes sense to take control of your check printing capabilities.