How To Use eChecks

One of the biggest advantages of using eChecks is that they’re familiar. Paper checks have been in use in one form or another for more than a millennium, and they’re easy to understand. In effect, they’re little more than an efficient letter sent to the payer’s bank authorizing the sending of a sum of money from one account to another.

So creating an eCheck is straightforward too — and it is but the process that isn’t entirely as familiar, yet. Users of eChecks won’t be pulling out their checkbooks and reaching for a pen. They’ll be opening a browser and filling in a form. This is what you need to do:

  1. Check your bank account

Anyone writing a check needs to make sure that they have enough funds in the account to cover the payment, and this is also important for people sending eChecks. Because the float time is so much shorter, users of eChecks can’t write a check on a Wednesday knowing that they’ll be paid on Friday. The check might be presented at the bank within 24 hours so buyers shouldn’t consider writing an eCheck until they’re certain that they’ll have money in their account at the time they write the check.

  1. Complete the eCheck form

eChecks are sometimes offered as a payment option by sellers who will supply the eCheck form. They might also be one of the options on a payment platform like Due or they could be a feature on a bank’s website. Open the feature and you’ll be presented with a form.

That form won’t look like a paper check because paper checks are printed with a great deal of information already included: routing number; account number; check number; the name of the account holder; and the name of the bank.

When writing an eCheck all of that information has to be entered manually.

The name of the account holder and the bank will be straightforward. You might also need to specify whether the funds will be drawn from a savings account or a checking account. The routing number and the account number will be less familiar. The easiest place to find that information is on the bottom of a paper check. The routing number will be nine digits long, and the account number will be between eight and ten digits long. If you’re using your bank’s website to create the eCheck, you should also be able to find both the routing number and the account number on the site.

You’ll need to enter the amount, and you might need to state whether the payment is one-time or recurring, and if recurring, you’ll want to add the frequency of the payment. Some platforms might also demand a check number, which should be the number of your next available paper check. Just be sure to void that physical check.

Other than having to enter those pieces of information manually, the rest of the form will be very familiar. If you’re writing an eCheck on a banking site rather than the seller’s own platform, you’ll just need to enter the name of the payee.

  1. Check and submit

Because you’ll be entering so many numbers manually, it’s worth taking a minute to make sure you haven’t made any mistakes or confused the routing number and account numbers. Once you’re sure everything’s accurate, hit submit to start the payment process.

Creating an eCheck then is relatively straightforward. Even if the process isn’t quite as familiar as writing and signing a paper check, it’s not difficult. The fields are self-explanatory and the information is easy to find. It won’t take more than a few minutes, and it’s unlikely to take longer than writing a paper check.

A tougher challenge is knowing when to use an eCheck.