How Long is a Check Good For?

Despite a steady decline of check usage among Americans, there are still 14.5 billion check payments made in the U.S. each year. There are many instances in which you might need to cash a check, such as receiving a tax refund. But before you stick that piece of paper in a drawer to deal with later, make sure you know how long a check is good for if it’s not cashed right away.

Checks that Expire After 6 Months

Both corporate checks and personal checks technically expire after six months from the issue date. There may be alternate void dates written on the check, such as 90 days, but that’s more of the issuer’s preference rather than a hard fast rule. After six months, a bank considers the check “stale” and isn’t legally required to cash it.

paying agency directly and go through the check claims process and appropriate paperwork.

You can avoid expired U.S. Treasury checks completely by signing up for electronic direct deposit or opting for a direct express card (designed for those without bank accounts). For those who receive federal benefits, like Social Security, receiving payments electronically is required by law.

Note that state and local governments all have their own expiration dates when it comes to checks. Consider looking into those specific guidelines for things like state tax refund checks.

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Checks with other Expiration Dates

There are several exceptions to the six-month and one-year expiration dates associated with most checks. The reason is because the funds attached to them are typically secured by the issuing bank in some way.

Certified Checks

The issuer’s bank guarantees a certified check, but the funds remain in the individual’s account until you cash the check. However, the bank puts a hold on the correct amount of cash so there’s no risk of them overdrawing before cashing it in.

Still, there’s no hard and fast expiration date for a certified check. The main concern is that eventually, the bank may hand over the funds to the state in your name as unclaimed property. Each state has its own process for reclaiming those abandoned funds. Every state has an unclaimed property office. Alternatively, you can check , a multi-state database, which may help you find your unclaimed cash from certified checks and other sources.

Cashier’s Checks

When you receive a cashier’s check from someone, the funds have already been drawn from their personal bank account and transferred directly into an escrow account with the issuing bank. The bank may still place a void date on the check and no longer guarantee the funds after that point. If you miss your window of opportunity, the bank may transfer the money to the state as unclaimed property, just as they would with uncashed certified checks.

Cashier’s checks are usually reserved for large amounts of money. When someone pays you with this method, it’s generally smart to cash it as quickly as possible. Plus, it can be very difficult to replace a hard copy of a cashier’s check if you lose it.

Money Orders

A money order is another secure form of payment. It never expires but depending on the terms of the money order, there may be fees associated with it if it is not cashed in a certain amount of time.

different types of checks available, it can be confusing to keep track of the timeframe for depositing each type. As a general rule of thumb, the six-month mark represents the strictest timeline. Cashing or depositing any check before then, can help avoid trying to cash a check after it has expired.Remember that checks issued by the federal government via the U.S. Treasury Department have a little more leeway—a full year from the issue date.

SoFi can help you avoid the hassle of going to a bank branch or ATM to cash your check. With SoFi Money®, you can use the app’s photo check deposit feature. A SoFi Money account also comes with checks, so you can write them too.

Ready to spend and save in a way that’s convenient for you? See how SoFi Money can help.

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