How Long is a Check Good For?

Writing off checks might seem old, but still, many people do it. Not only do the checks make payments inexpensive, but it is also the easiest way to access large amounts of funds in one go. Many people use checks as birthday or wedding gifts to their loved ones.

Depositing or cashing a check as soon as possible might be the right thing to do, but often is the most difficult one.

Often people get stuck with their busy work lives or personal commitments and completely forget about depositing the check. Unfortunately, checks do not last forever. They do come with an expiration date.

Many people have assumed that checks can be deposited anytime they want if they are valid and in good condition.

However, they don’t realize that, like all things, checks can go stale too. Once the check reaches its expiration date, it cannot be deposited no matter how much time and effort you put in.

However, what to do if you tucked the check into a pocket and forgot about it for months? Will the bank accept it? You must read on to get an answer to your old checks queries! 

How Long is a Check Good to Deposit?

The general rule of thumb is to deposit the check as soon as you receive it. However, people might get into situations when their top priority will not be to deposit all the checks they have received.

Some people can get into an accident or might have misplaced the check. In that case, many people might wonder how long a check is good for.

Mostly the checks can be deposited within 6 months (180 days). However, the expiratory duration might also depend on the check you received. Each check comes with a different expiratory date.

The 6-month expiratory duration is general and might not apply to every type of check received. To help you understand better, here is a list of a few kinds of checks along with their expiratory date:

Personal Checks

Payroll checks or checks that are given to you by your friends, family members, or colleagues are referred to as personal checks. These checks remain valid to deposit for 6 months.

However, some businesses might have pre-printed “void after 3 months” on their checks. If you have received any of these checks, you may be unable to deposit them after 3 months.

Some banks might allow these checks to be deposited for 6 months. However, most banks don’t, as they want to motivate people to make a habit of depositing their checks sooner. 

If you have been given a personal check, it is better to deposit it immediately. Holding a check for longer will increase the risk of the check being expired or rejected for many reasons.

The check issuer might close their account number or spend the amount elsewhere. Not only will you lose your money in that case, but you may also have to bear the return check fees.

Treasury Checks

The U.S treasury checks (Federal Tax Refund Checks)  remain valid to deposit for almost 12 months after the day they have been signed. However, once the one-year time duration has passed, the U.S treasury check might not be deposited.

After one year, you will still be authorized to receive the money the federal government owes you, but you will need to reach out to the issuer to request a new check. It may take a lot of your time to get your hands on a new check.

Therefore, depositing the U.S treasury checks as soon as you receive them is better if you want to avoid the hassle in the future.

Local Government Checks

Checks received by the state or local government will expire according to state law. However, state law might vary from state to state. Therefore, if you want to know the expiration date of your state check, you must check your state law regarding it.

However, state checks generally expire after 6 months or one year. If you have an expired state tax refund check, you must contact the state officials and request a new check.

Just like with the U.S government checks, you will remain entitled to the money, but it will take some time to receive a new check.

The best approach is to deposit the state tax refund checks as soon as you receive them.

Cashier’s Checks

Cashier checks are often referred to as official checks that have complicated rules. There is no set or specified duration when it comes to the cashier’s check expiration date.

While many people claim that cashier checks do not expire, others believe that they expire within the duration of two, three, or six months. However,  all of these can be just some speculations on the Internet.

The issuing bank backs cashier checks. Therefore, they should remain valid as long as the bank is functional. However, most banks do have a specified expiration date on their checks.

Therefore, if you are confused about whether the cashier check you have has expired or not, it is better to check it with the issuing bank.

Often the cashier checks come with a “void after these days’ disclaimer. Therefore, if your check also has this disclaimer, you must deposit it before the specified time.

It could be incredibly difficult to deposit an expired cashier check or request a new one from the issuing bank.

Money Orders

Money orders might have turned old, but many people still receive them. The expiration date of money orders depends on the laws of the state you live in and the state of the issuer. In general, money orders do not expire.

However, the money orders the recipient does not collect for a long time can fall under the abandoned property regulations, or the value is decreased due to hefty late collection fees.

After one year, the Western Union will start imposing fees on it, which will increase with each passing day.

If this goes long enough, the money order will become useless to collect. Therefore, the wiser decision would be to collect your money orders as soon as you receive them.

Traveler’s Checks

Traveler’s checks do not come with an expiratory date. As long as the issuing bank is operational, the traveler’s check you have received is valid.

Why is Holding on to Checks For Long Risky?

You might have genuine reasons for holding onto the checks written to you. However, there are certain risks associated with holding onto the checks for long, such as:

Closed Accounts

While you are holding on to the check, the person or business that has written the check to you might switch banks.

Therefore, if you deposit a check after they have switched accounts, your check will no longer remain valid. The check will bounce, and your bank might charge you a hefty fee for depositing a bad check.

Some banks usually take strict action against people depositing bad checks. Therefore, they might freeze or close your bank account.

Insufficient Funds

When a person writes you a check, they expect you to deposit it soon. They might have funds available in their account when writing the check to you.

However, that might change after a few days or months. They might end up spending the amount elsewhere.

Therefore, after a few months, when you will visit the bank to deposit the check written to you by them, it will bounce because of insufficient funds.

Again, if the check bounces, the bank will charge you fees even if they know there is no fault of yours.

Canceled Payment

When you do not deposit the check written to you for long, the issuer might assume you have misplaced the check and decide to cancel the check.

Therefore, the bank will reject your check when you deposit the check after holding onto it for a long time.

Expiration Date

Many people might not know, but certain types of checks do come with an expiration date. While personal checks remain good to deposit for 6 months, U.S treasury or state checks will stay valid for up to 1 year.

However, once the check reaches its expiration date, it will be difficult for you to convince the issuer to sign you a new check.

Also, some banks might ignore the expiration date and process a check anyway. However, you should not count on that in every case. The best approach is to deposit the check as soon as you receive it to avoid the hassle in the future.

Conclusion:

Receiving checks as birthday or wedding gifts might seem fascinating. However, these checks do come with a huge responsibility – depositing them before they reach their expiration date.

Every check has a different expiration date depending on its type. In the past, many banks used to accept expired checks and process them anyway.

However,  now most banks are not accepting expired checks to encourage people to deposit their checks sooner.