How Long Are Checks Generally Good For?Typically, checks are good for six months or 180 days from the date written on the check. Payroll and business checks also have a life span of 180 days. Within this timeframe, a check is considered valid and can be cashed. However, banks do not need to accept checks older than six months as per the UCC (Uniform Commercial Code). After six months, they technically become stale-dated. Once checks get stale-dated, it is common for banks not to cash or deposit the check into the recipient's bank account. However, banks may accept checks older than 180 days, given certain circumstances, we will review later in the article. It is important to note that if a check is cashed or deposited within 180 days of its written date, banks are obliged to accept the check.
What if Your Check Expires Before You Cash It?Owners of a stale dated check have a few options to explore that may allow them to deposit the check past the expiration period:
- Contact the issuer: You can contact the person or organization who issued the check and ask if they can issue a new one. Explain why you were not able to cash the check before it expired, and they may be willing to help you out.
- Request an extension: Some banks or financial institutions may offer a grace period or extension for expired checks. Contact your bank or financial institution and ask if they can extend the validity of the check.
- Try to cash the check: Even if a check has expired, you can still try to cash it. Some banks may still accept an expired check, but they may charge a fee or put a hold on the funds until the check clears.
- Deposit the check: You can also try to deposit the check into your account. Some banks may accept the deposit and put a hold on the funds until the check clears.
- Return the check: If all else fails, you can return the expired check to the issuer and request a new one.
How to Cash an Expired Check?If a check is expired, that doesn’t necessarily mean it can’t be cashed or deposited. Here are a couple of steps to consider when attempting to cash an expired check:
1. Reach out to the issuerContact the person or organization who issued the check. This can give them time to make sure there’s enough money in their account to honor the check. Many people and organizations keep a minimum amount in their checking accounts, so this step helps ensure the check doesn’t bounce when it is deposited. Even if the check issuer is aware and has enough cash to honor the expired check, it’s likely easier to ask them to cancel the expired check and issue you a new check. Regardless if a check has expired, you are still entitled to the money, and requesting a new check is completely reasonable. If the bank won’t accept the stale-dated check and the check issuer will not issue a new check, consider the legal options available. These situations where you are considering your legal options will likely only pertain to personal and business checks.
2. Call the BankThe next step is to contact the bank that issued the check to learn more about their procedures for processing and honoring past-due checks. Certain banks might still honor an expired check, and the receiving bank may be willing to accept the check and will put the funds on hold on the understanding it will be cleared. Bank are often more reasonable in these situations than you may think.
The Different Types of Checks and Their Expiration DatesThere are different types of checks, and their expiration dates vary accordingly. Here are some common types of checks and their expiration dates.
- Personal Checks: Good for 180 days. The 180-day timeframe applies to business and payroll checks as well. Although, there are checks for businesses that carry pre-printed "void after 90 days" on them. Banks will honor these checks for up to 180 days in most cases. The pre-printed "void after 90 days" only encourages people to cash or deposit a check as soon as possible.
- US Treasury Checks: Good for one year after the date of issue by the U.S. Treasury. After this period, the recipient must contact the issuer for a new check.
- State & Local Government Checks: The expiration of state and local government checks will depend on and vary from state to state. In general, these checks are good for six months to one year. It is important to check the state laws to determine if your check is considered stale-dated.
- Cashier's Checks: These checks should be valid as long as the bank is in operation. Some banks will put expiration dates on the checks. You need to check the rules governing such checks before depositing them.
- Money Orders: The expiry date for money orders depends on the state law and rules of the check issuer. They typically have an expiration date printed on them, which can vary depending on the issuer. These are usually valid between one and three years from the date of issue
- Traveler's Check: They typically do not have expiry dates and are valid as long as the issuing bank exists. For example, American Express Travelers Cheques cannot expire, and you can cash them indefinitely. However, other issuers may have different policies, so checking the expiration date before using these checks is important.
What to Do When Your Check Becomes Invalid?How long check valid, and what do you do when your check becomes invalid? There are many actions you can take to make a check valid again if it becomes invalid for any reason, including:
- Get in touch with the check's issuer: You can do this to see why the check is invalid. It may be because there aren't enough funds, the check was written incorrectly, or for many other reasons. Knowing the cause will help you find a solution.
- Check the bank's policy: If the check cannot be cashed because it has expired, get in touch with the bank and find out what its procedures are for these types of situations. While other banks would need you to obtain a new check, some might still honor the old one.
- Obtain a new check: Ask the issuer for a new check if the first one cannot be cashed or deposited. If the check cannot be cashed or deposited, think about asking the issuer to pay using a new means, like an electronic transfer or a different kind of payment.
- Maintain records: Ensure that you maintain copies of every correspondence you have with the issuer and any steps you take to address it. This may be useful if you need to escalate the situation or seek legal recourse.
Understanding Bank Policies on When Checks ExpireDifferent banks have varying policies regarding handling situations when checks have expired. Although some banks may accept checks for up to a year or longer, checks are often deemed "stale" after six months or 180 days from the date of issuance. Here are some policies banks may have regarding stale dated checks:
- Honor stale checks: Even if a check is older than the standard six-month, 180-day expiration period, certain institutions may accept it. They might, however, ask you to present extra identification or deposit the check into a unique account.
- Refuse to accept stale checks: Some banks might not accept expired checks at all. In this situation, you should consider getting in touch with the check's issuer and ask for a replacement.
- Put a hold on the check: Some banks will take stale checks but will put a hold on the money, usually for up to 10 days, to make sure the check clears.
ConclusionA check’s expiry date determines how long a check's owner can still reasonably cash or deposit the check, which is typically 180 days from the check’s date. Reasonably cash means that certain banks may have policies that allow them to accept expired checks in specific situations. In situations where a check is past the 180-day mark and is considered stale, the easiest solution is often asking for a new check to be issued. At the end of the day, it’s crucial to be aware of the check's expiration date and to cash it as soon as possible to guarantee that you get your money in a timely manner.