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How Long Is a Check Good For?


Checks are typically valid for up to six months from the issue date, although this can vary based on the type of check and the policies of the bank that issued it. Knowing how long a check is good for is essential to avoid the complications of expired or stale-dated checks. That’s why it’s recommended to cash or deposit checks promptly to ensure smooth financial transactions.

Need help managing your money and picking investments? Consider speaking with a financial advisor today to see how they can help.

When Do Checks Expire?

Knowing when a check expires will help you avoid losing funds that are owed to you. Here’s a look at how long seven types of checks typically take to expire.

Personal Checks

Personal checks generally expire six months from the date written on the check. While banks may still process these checks after six months, it’s not guaranteed. Therefore, it’s prudent to deposit or cash them promptly to avoid complications.

Business Checks

Business checks, much like personal checks, also generally expire after six months. However, company policies can vary, so you should check with the issuing business if you find yourself holding onto a check for an extended period.

Cashier’s Checks

Cashier’s checks do not have a standard expiration date. They are guaranteed funds, making them reliable for long-term transactions. However, banks may include a “void after 90 days” note for tracking purposes. If you encounter this, the check should still be honored after the specified period, but you might need to confirm with the issuing bank.

U.S. Treasury Checks

U.S. Treasury checks, such as tax refunds or Social Security payments, are valid for one year from the issue date. After this period, the checks are considered stale-dated, and you will need to request a replacement check from the issuing agency.

State and Local Government Checks

State and local government checks generally expire six months from the issue date, but this can vary by state and specific government agency. Check the guidelines provided by the issuing entity to ensure timely processing.

Traveler’s Checks

Traveler’s checks are unique in that they do not expire. They are designed for security and ease of use during travel, and can be cashed or deposited years after their issuance, retaining their value indefinitely.

Money Orders

Money orders issued by the U.S. Postal Service do not expire, but those from other issuers may have varying expiration policies. It’s best to check with the issuing entity to understand their specific rules. Some money orders might incur fees if not cashed within a certain timeframe, reducing their value.

Can You Cash an Expired Check?

A bank employee hands an expired check back to a customer and explains it cannot be cashed.

Attempting to cash a check past its expiration date can result in the bank refusing the transaction. This is because banks consider expired checks as stale-dated, meaning they are no longer obligated to honor them.

If you deposit an expired check, your bank might process it initially, but the issuing bank can still reject it, which could lead to fees for both parties involved. Additionally, you might incur overdraft fees if the check was intended to cover expenses in your account. In some cases, presenting a stale check could be seen as an attempt to commit fraud, especially if the check is significantly past its expiration date.

What to Do With an Expired Check

If you find yourself with an expired check, the best course of action is to contact the issuer. Explain the situation and request a reissuance of the check. Most businesses and individuals are willing to reissue a check once they verify that it was never cashed. It’s essential to handle this promptly to avoid further delays and ensure that you receive the funds owed to you.

Some banks may honor checks even after the expiration date, depending on their specific policies. Check with your bank to see if they might still accept the expired check. Present the check to a bank teller and ask if it can be processed. Be prepared for the possibility that the bank might refuse, but it’s worth a try, especially if the check is only slightly past its expiration date.

Tips for Avoiding Expired Checks

A man hands an expired check to a bank employee and asks that a new one get issued.

To avoid the hassle of dealing with expired checks, make it a habit to deposit checks as soon as you receive them. Here are four additional tips to avoid the headache of expired checks:

  • Set up direct deposit: If your employer offers it, arrange to have your paychecks automatically deposited into a checking or savings account.
  • Organize your finances: If you still receive paper checks, keep a designated place for incoming checks, such as a folder or a section in your desk, to avoid misplacing them.
  • Set reminders: Use calendar apps or set reminders on your phone to alert you of checks that need to be deposited before they expire.
  • Track your receivables: Maintain a log of received checks with their issue dates and deposit deadlines to keep track of pending deposits.

Money Management Tips

  • A financial advisor can help you manage your money and build a holistic financial plan to achieve your goals. Finding a financial advisor doesn’t have to be hard. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with up to three vetted financial advisors who serve your area, and you can have a free introductory call with your advisor matches to decide which one you feel is right for you. If you’re ready to find an advisor who can help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.
  • Maintain an emergency fund with enough money to cover between three and six months worth of living expenses. An emergency fund should be liquid – in an account that isn’t at risk of significant fluctuation like the stock market. The tradeoff is that the value of liquid cash can be eroded by inflation. But a high-interest account allows you to earn compound interest. Compare savings accounts from these banks.

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