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Do Checks Expire?

Checks don't actually expire, though a check more than six months old can be considered “stale dated".
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  • Written By: M.R. Anglin
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 19 July 2014
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It is not accurate to say that personal checks expire. However, if a check is more than six months old, it can be considered “stale dated.” When a stale dated check is taken to the bank for payment, unless there is a stop payment on it, the bank can decide whether to pay it out or not. If the bank decides to pay the check, the person who wrote the check is not able to complain that the bank should not have paid it out because the check was written and no stop payment was in effect. If the bank decides to bounce the check, the check writer cannot complain that the bank should have paid it because the check is more than six months old. These complaints often happen because people believe checks expire.

To say that blank checks expire is also inaccurate. If a person has a blank check on an account that is still open, those checks are still valid. However, the person with old checks should be sure that the account is still open. They should also be sure that the bank information has not changed. If the information has changed, the check may be invalid.

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Though it is not correct to say that checks expire, bank customers who have written checks that have not been cashed have several options to protect themselves. Keeping close tabs on their account will prevent them from using money that is not theirs to use. It may be helpful to call the person to whom the check was written and find out why the check was not cashed. If this is done, arrangements can then be made to either deposit the check or issue a new one. It should be noted, however, that there are times when calling the payee is not feasible.

Customers who have stale dated checks in circulation may also put a stop payment on these old checks to prevent the bank from cashing them. This will ensure that old checks will not be cashed but could cause problems with the payee if he tries to cash it. It should also be noted that some banks charge a stop payment fee. It is also wise for those who have stale dated checks to call the bank on which the check was drawn in order to verify their policy for old checks. Another possibility is to call the person who wrote the check and request a new one be issued.

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Discuss this Article

anon321672
Post 8

Someone stole my checkbook. Can they cash it out?

anon296099
Post 7

The "not Valid after xxx days" means nothing as to expiration of a check, business or otherwise.

kylee07drg
Post 6

The fact that personal checks don't expire is really helpful to people like me who don't use them all that often. I can usually go about a year without ordering new checks.

There are a couple of places, like the local water association, that are not set up to accept payments online. I reserve my checks for places like this, and I save a lot of checks by paying with my credit card online whenever possible.

I used to have to order new checks every few months, and that can get expensive. It seems that the price of checks is going up, along with the price of just about everything else these days. It's really a good thing that they don't expire!

JackWhack
Post 5

@wavy58 – I see why a business would set up an expiration date for a check like this. If someone didn't cash the check until five months after receiving it, this could really throw off their records.

However, I can't imagine anyone waiting months to cash a paycheck! I always deposit mine on the day that I receive it.

wavy58
Post 4

Some checks do expire. However, these are usually paychecks or rewards checks.

When my employer sends me my check, there is always an expiration date written on it. It says, “not valid after such and such date.”

I've also gotten rebate checks in the mail that featured expiration dates on them. So, some checks do expire, after all.

seag47
Post 3

Since there's really no such thing as expired personal checks, I always do a stop payment if one of my checks doesn't get cashed after several months. I make sure to contact the person who has the check first, and if they don't answer, I call the bank.

I really hate having to do this, though. My bank charges a stop payment fee of $30. It is awful to have to pay $30 to stop payment on a $12 check, which I've had to do before.

anon122195
Post 2

awesome. just what i needed to know.

anon36003
Post 1

Thanks for this! It answered my question very clearly.

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