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What Ink Colors Are Valid for Checks to Avoid Fraud?

Written by Robert S. Brown / Fact checked by Helen B. Harris

what ink colors are valid for checks

In this modern day of banking where online and cashless transactions are conveniently used, checks are still predominant. This is especially true when dealing with a large amount of money and transactions between different individuals or institutions.

However, in some cases, it may not be clear enough what ink colors are valid for checks. In normal settings, the majority of the banks prefer standard inks in black and blue.

But, are other ink colors allowed? Keep reading to find out.

Valid Ink Colors for Checks

1. Standard Ink Colors


These refer to regular black and blue ink colors. But first, you have to note that it has to be a non-erasable pen, regardless of the color.

Black ink is widely accepted to be used in most if not all formal and legal documents, including checks, because of its highly visible and scannable color.

However, there are certain conditions where blue ink is superior to black ink. One example is when you endorse a check that undergoes validation and clearing.

These processes require the checks to be scanned and to undergo photographic reproduction. Copies come out in all-black images; thus, when you write a check in blue ink, it simply makes it easier to distinguish the original check from the rest of the copies.

Aside from that, some credit card applications, law offices, courts, and other institutions even require you to strictly write your signature in blue ink on legal documents, or else your signature will be held null and void.

2. Dark Colored Inks

One popular question we get to ask is that, apart from using black or blue ink on check, what other color pen should be used when writing checks?

If you do not have a black or blue ink pen at hand, other dark-colored ink pens can work as well, as long as they are pigmented enough for scanners to detect.

3. Invalid Ink Colors for Checks


Generally, banks warn about using red ink pens in signing or writing checks as they have a higher chance of getting automatically void upon fraud scrutiny or coming out blank under the scanner.

Other light ink colors are generally not restricted to be used on checks. However, they are not advisable as they can present several challenges.

For example, light-colored pens like yellow or pink may not be readable enough or hard to detect using high-speed scanners, which often prolong the process of verification. The same problem applies to green and purple.

Benefits of Using Valid Ink Colors


Using the more appropriate dark inks or blue or black pens for check writing makes your penmanship more clear, readable, and scannable.

Thus, you can expect a smoother transaction, fewer delays, and more importantly, it keeps you away from the distress of having your checks invalidated due to poor writing.

How to Prevent Check Washing?


Using the standard colored black and blue pen to sign a check is advisable to avoid having problems in bank processing. However, check washing is a different story.

The best way to protect issued checks from this type of fraud is to use archival quality pens that don’t easily fade or indelible pens or ink that are specially formulated to resist strong solvents used on checks for criminal activities.

Here are the top anti-fraudulent pens and inks that are proven and tested for this task:

  • Noodler’s Bad Black Moccasin
  • Sakura Gelly Roll
  • Sakura Pigma Micron
  • Uni Jetstream Ballpoint Pens


Generally, the safest ink colors to use in writing checks are black and blue. Preferably, you can use other dark-colored pens so long as they’re permanent and highly pigmented. For additional safeguard, use products with indelible ink or ones with archival quality.

When using other colored pens, avoid using red or light-colored pigments that are less visible as they don’t read well under scanners.

Hopefully, by now you know what pen color you need for the job. If you have other questionsabout what ink colors are valid for checks, let us know in the comments.

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