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How Long Do You Have to Cash a Personal Check?

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Discussions about personal check expiration dates inevitably spiral into debates about the nuances of loan ethics. Although banking laws differ from state to state, most states consider that checks in excess of 6 months old are considered “stale dated.” Contrary to the conventional wisdom, stale dated checks can still be cashed successfully. However, the drawee's bank has the right to refuse payment on the check or “bounce” it.

There have been instances in which personal checks dated from several years in the past have been cashed without a problem. In many cases, bank tellers simply don't check out the date on the check. Whether or not the drawee bank decides to accept the check is often a matter of “good faith.” That said, if you posses a personal check that's dated more than six months ago, the bank will still likely accept your deposit.

Consider calling or mailing the issuer of the check and asking him or her to reissue a new check to avoid potential hassles. A banking customer may also choose to put a “stop payment” notice on long overdue checks. Thus, a situation may arise in which a three to four month old check, for instance, may bounce due to a stop payment notice.

To ensure the stability of your accounts, wait to see whether or not an old check appears on your banking statement as “deposited” before spending the money. If you're the issuer of a check that hasn't been cashed for some time, be aware that putting a stop payment on said check may cost you a substantial fee, a typical bank might charge $25 for the service.

Thus, it may behoove you to get in contact with the person or entity to whom you issued the check in the first place before taking any stop payment actions. If you have further questions about personal check expiration protocols, contact someone at your banking institution or read up on your state's consumer banking protection laws.

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