Do checks expire? How long is a check good for

3 minutes reading

eduardo SEO Specialist and content production, I have worked in several renowned companies in Brazil and abroad. I write about money, technology and more!

Checks can be convenient when you need alternatives to make and receive payments. However, unlike cash, this method has an expiration date. If you ever put your hands on an older check issued several months ago, you might feel uneasy about what to do next. And then comes the question: do checks expire? The answer is yes, but the “how long” depends on the type of check.

Not long ago, writing a check was part of our daily lives as one of the most common ways of providing payment to someone. Now credit and debit cards are more popular because of their practicality. You need either write anything or carry cash in your pockets. At any rate, checks are still safe. So it is good to know how long you can keep them before they expire. This article will cover when and what to do about the expiration date. Keep reading!

Do checks expire if not cashed?

First, let’s see what is a personal check in case it is new for you somehow. It is not hard to imagine something like this in a world with Internet banking. As a credit card, debit card, or cash, a personal check is an alternative way of providing money to another person or a company. It comes in a paper form where you write down a few details, allowing you to cash it at a bank or another institution. 

So do personal checks expire? Most of them expire within 180 days o six months — starting from the date it was issued — if not cashed. Legally speaking, banks are required to honor this time. Beyond that will depend on each institution’s standards. While some might contact the account holder for approval, others will bounce it. The best option is always to get in touch with the issuer before any attempts.

How do you tell if a check is expired?

When looking for the date when it was issued, you can tell if a check is expired or not. In some cases, the paper brings the following message “void after 90 days”. Generally, you can’t use a voided check for payments or withdrawals. 

The best thing to avoid losing money due to the expiration date is to cash it promptly. Usually, there are two ways: deposit or cash. The first option leads the amount directly to your checking or savings account. The latter can also be done in your bank without fees or by check-cashing services through charges.

When do checks expire?

The expiration date changes under the type of check. Six months are usually valid for personal checks. Meanwhile, U.S. Treasury checks are good for up to one year. Traveler’s checks and USPS money orders do not expire. The same goes for blank and certified checks when the associated account is still active.

No matter the case, if you are trying to cash any older check, get in touch with the issuer first before any attempts. Note that people often use checking accounts for day-to-day expenses. So the funds available might be low when you reach them out of time.

How long is an uncashed check good for?

While personal checks are safe to cash within six months, other types follow different rules. Among business checks, U.S. Treasury checks, government checks, cashier’s checks, money orders, and traveler’s checks, each one has its expiration date or not. If you are looking for information about one of them, check how the deadline works:

  • Business and payroll checks: the same rules for personal checks apply here (180 days). Some use the “void after 90 days” message pre-printed on their papers to encourage a sooner move. Plus, banks can accept older checks based on their policies;
  • U.S. Treasury checks: valid for one year, starting from the date they were issued. After this period, contact the issuer to request a new check;
  • Government checks: local and state papers (tax refunds or benefits) expire according to the state law from where it was issued. In general, the period goes from six months to a year. If you miss the deadline, you can ask for a new one;
  • Cashier’s checks: there is no specified expiration date in this case since they are typically for larger transactions. Some say they don’t expire, while others claim it happens after 60, 90, or 180 days. To safely receive the money, make sure to cash them as soon as possible;
  • Money orders: generally speaking, they don’t expire, but money orders can also be attached to state laws or rules from the issuer and be charged after one to three years;
  • Traveler’s checks: never expire, no matter how much time passes, if the issuing bank is still active. You can always cash them with the issuer or spend them while traveling or not. 

What happens when you deposit an expired check?

As you know, many people keep just enough in their accounts to pay the bills. When a forgotten check comes without warning, there may not have enough funds to cover it and complete the payment. It is better to contact the issuer and ask for a new check before any further move with an expired check.

It is not a guarantee that you will be able to deposit or cash the money. When time passes, you might not reach the issuer or receive a “no” as an answer about issuing a new check. So you could be unable to get your payment. 

Do checks expire? If you came all the way here, now the answer is clear. Each type has a different rule. While some don’t have a deadline, others are not valid for six months to one year. The best way to avoid losing your money is to get it promptly by deposit to your account or in cash.
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eduardo SEO Specialist and content production, I have worked in several renowned companies in Brazil and abroad. I write about money, technology and more!

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