The banking world can be a tad confusing sometimes. How long do you actually have to cash those checks you’ve been hanging onto? Well, it depends on what type of check it is. We’ve broken down the differences between personal, business, and cashier’s checks, so read on for the deets.
Usually personal checks are valid for 180 days from the issue date (unless otherwise noted). This rule is in place because of Article 4-404 of the Uniform Commercial Code, which states that US banks are not legally obligated to pay checks that are older than 6 months.
If you’re not ready to give up on getting your money after 180 days have passed, contact the issuer’s bank. They might be able to work something out for you, but they do tend to be pretty strict. So, cash that check as soon as you get it, if possible!
Generally, the same time limit of 180 days applies to business checks as well. However, some checks may have an expiration date listed on the front of the check. Many large companies place limits (like “valid for 90 days from this date”), so you should be sure you cash your check before this date has passed. If you try to cash a business check past this date, it’s likely your check will be refused - and you might even have to pay a fee for the returned check!
For checks issued by small businesses, it’s less probable that there will be any kind of limit. This means, you could potentially cash a check after 10 months, a year, etc. We wouldn’t recommend waiting though - why wait to get cash in your pocket anyway?
Most banks recommend cashing a cashier’s check within 90 days of issue, but it really depends on the state. Technically, there are no set limits on cashier’s checks, which means you could bring them to the bank years later with no problem. Generally, most states will deem checks ‘unclaimed’ or ‘abandoned property’ within 2 to 7 years from the issue date.
If too much time passes and the check isn’t cashed, it will likely be turned over to the state treasury. Once this happens, the bank is no longer obligated to honor the check. If you decide you really need that money, you have the option of making a claim to the state for the amount of your cashier’s check (although this sounds like a long, arduous process!).
Our advice? Cash those checks within 90 days, so you don’t have to worry about losing your money!