Can You Fold A Check?

Yes, it is perfectly normal to fold a check and it will not prevent you from either cashing or depositing it.

This remains true so long as all the important details that make a check negotiable can still be legibly read.

Check details should be legible
Check details should be legible to remain negotiable

The effect of folding on the quality of the check and the level of any damage is entirely dependent on the person handling it.

It isn’t uncommon for a consumer to carry their check folded in their wallet before depositing into their bank account.

More of than not, one fold down the middle of the check generally does not cause any loss of quality, particularly if it has been kept securely in an envelope or wallet.

However, it is also quite possible for the check to be folded and opened on multiple occasions causing areas to partially fade and wear from the creases.

In this scenario, it will be entirely up to the policies of the depositing bank or financial institution to determine whether it is still valid.

Depending on the bank into which the check will be cashed, it may be possible to deposit the funds directly through the bank’s mobile app, thereby avoiding any potential scrutiny from a bank teller.

Can you cash a folded check?

You can cash or deposit a folded check as long as the information on the check is clear and readable.

In some cases, the quality of the check may be compromised from excessive folding, rendering the details that make a check valid, illegible.

By all means, feel free to fold your check, however ensure that the following parts on the check are not smudged or faded as a result:

  • Drawer’s name (the person who created the check and from whom the funds will be drawn)
  • Drawer’s address
  • Drawer’s signature
  • The payee
  • Issue date
  • Issuing bank’s details
  • The amount written in words
  • The amount written in dollar numbers
  • MICR line
    • Routing number
    • Account number
    • Check number
Parts of a check
Parts of a check which should be clearly readable

You should still be able to deposit the check using the bank’s ATM the majority of the time, as long as the details listed above are in good order.

Banks don’t tend to put you under much scrutiny for minor folds, since they understand that in most cases, it is the preferred method of funds transfer amongst the older generation.

Keeping the check in good condition and minimizing the number of folds, will give you a better chance of cashing it.

Do banks accept folded checks?

Yes, banks do generally accept folded checks, so long as any of the folds do not hinder the ability for either an ATM with a check scanner or a bank teller from reading all the necessary details.

If you’re folding once along an imaginary line down the middle to minimize creasing over details outlined in a check, you will have a higher likelihood of keeping it in good condition.

It is typical nowadays to deposit the check into your bank account at an associated ATM, where it will be scanned electronically.

Scanners use optical character recognition (OCR) to digitize all the necessary details to facilitate a successful deposit.

Each number and letter should be clear to provide an accurate scan, considering OCR can still make mistakes, the likes of which can also be dependent on neatness, in cases where it has been handwritten.

If you are folding it several times, you may damage the magnetic ink used to print the MICR (Magnetic Ink Character Recognition) line, which details the check drawer’s routing number, account number and check number.

Minimize folding on the check and avoid smudging the magnetic MICR line
Minimize folding on the check and avoid smudging the magnetic MICR line

There’s a good chance that excessive creasing may cause the MICR line to become unreadable.

If you need to fold your check, ensure you are folding at locations that does not fall across the MICR line, if possible.

If the magnetic ink has been smudged or becomes dirty as well as inadvertently being written over with pen marks, it may prove difficult to scan since the ink helps in digitizing the routing and account numbers.

In addition, folding and unfolding regularly may cause damage to security features (listed on the rear of the check) or trigger their purpose.

For example, if your check inadvertently comes into contact with certain chemicals, colorful stains may begin to appear as a result of reacting with a protective security layer installed on the surface in order to indicate tampering.

This may result in the bank becoming suspicious of potential fraudulent activity by way of a counterfeit check.

Colorful stains can appear on checks when certain chemicals react on a special security surface
Colorful stains can appear on checks when certain chemicals react on a special security surface

If problems persists with the ATM, it’s best to bring it into the bank and deposit it with a human teller, who can assess any risk involved in accepting the check.

If the writing and information is legible, the teller should be able to verify that the check is legitimate. It will then be accepted and deposited into your account, so long as there is sufficient funds from the sender.

However, it is at the bank’s discretion to reject any check they deem invalid and non-negotiable.

If the creases due to continuous folding and unfolding causes the check to tear, do not attempt to mend it using glue, tape or any other adhesive, under any circumstances, as this will not be well received by the bank.

If this is the case, the bank may advise you to contact the drawer of the check and ask them to void the current check and issue you with a new one.

Can I mobile deposit a folded check?

Yes, if your bank provides a facility for you to deposit your check through their mobile or tablet app, you may do so as long as the details are still clearly visible despite the folds.

It is important to note that depositing through the bank’s mobile app often involves taking a picture of both the front and back sides of the check.

Ensure none of the creases as a result of the fold(s) has rendered any of the details illegible.

To keep the check as flat as possible before taking snaps, use a clear projector sheet, or insert into a clear plastic folder sleeve, and then clamp it down with paper weights.

Insert the folded check into a clear plastic folder sleeve and hold it down with paperweights
Insert the folded check into a clear plastic folder sleeve and hold it down with paperweights

This will have the added effect of not needing to reverse the existing folds which may otherwise cause tearing.

Once you have begun the deposit process, your bank will confirm through email or SMS that they have received it.

Then, it will typically take about a day to receive a response to confirm whether it was a successful or a rejected deposit.

An unsuccessful deposit may mean that perhaps certain information on the check may either be not visible or unreadable.

It may be worth paying a visit to a local branch and resolving it with a real person, who should be able to tell you whether or not your check needs to be reissued.

Can you fold a check in the mail?

Yes, there’s no harm in folding a check in an envelope in order to send it through the mail to the recipient.

If only one fold is made down the middle, the check will still most likely be in pristine condition once it is delivered, given it is not mishandled during transit.

Typically, people will send checks folded in order to make it less likely to determine that there is a check inside, since envelopes can be quite thin and transparent against a light source.

To mitigate this and avoid needing to fold the check, use a security envelope to properly conceal the check from would-be thieves willing to commit fraud.

Consider adding a thin cardboard piece alongside the check in order to prevent it from folding or becoming damaged as it travels through the postal service.

If you are not comfortable parting with your check through traditional snail mail, perhaps consider sending it through email, a method which has proven to be safe and fast.

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