We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.

Advertiser Disclosure

Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.

How We Make Money

We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently from our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What is a Stale Check?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 16, 2024
Our promise to you
SmartCapitalMind is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At SmartCapitalMind, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

A stale check is a check issued six months or more in the past. If the payee presents the check, the bank may refuse to pay it on the grounds that it is old. This can result in fees for the payee, as the bank will charge for processing the old check. Bank policies about old checks vary, and customers should make sure they know the procedure followed at their financial institutions.

After six months, a bank can deem a check an irregular bill of exchange and decline to honor it. The payee will need to request a new check from the party who originally wrote the draft. In other cases, the bank will go ahead and put the check through, transferring the funds to the payee's account or providing them in cash, depending on how the payee submits the check for payment.

For payees, stale checks can be a problem because a bank may accept a check for deposit into a person's bank account, submit it for payment, and then find out that the issuing bank will not accept it. It will be charged a fee for this, and will pass this on to the customer. The payee will not only be out the amount of the original check, but also the added fee for finding out it is too old to deposit. Payees can skirt this issue by entering the issuing bank and asking for the value of the stale check in cash, determining at the outset whether the bank will accept it.

The individual writing the check can also find a stale check to be a problem. Old checks tend to mess up bookkeeping. People may forget about outstanding checks and spend the money, only to get a shock when an overdraft notice arrives because the payee finally made a deposit. Out-of-sequence checks on a bank statement are a red flag that someone hasn't cashed a check, and the customer should go through her records to determine which check is involved.

Banks can provide information about their stale check policy on request. Customers should find out what will happen if they write checks and people try to cash them more than six months after they are written. Some banks will helpfully print the policy on their checks, alerting anyone who handles the check to the length of time in which it will be valid. For parties planning to deposit checks, it may be advisable to ask the teller about the fees for returned checks in the event the issuing bank returns a stale check.

SmartCapitalMind is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a SmartCapitalMind researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments

By Cageybird — On Sep 23, 2014

I think people who hold onto checks for six months or longer had better have a really good excuse for doing it. I've written my share of post dated checks in the past, but at least the payee agreed to deposit it promptly. A stale dated check most likely means the recipient either forgot about it completely or has a problem with procrastination. Either way, I'm glad the banks will at least flag stale checks before agreeing to cash them.

I know I'd appreciate a phone call from the bank if someone presented a check I wrote last year. I may not have the money to cover it now.

By Buster29 — On Sep 22, 2014

My landlady could be bad about holding onto a rent payment until it became a stale check. It would really mess up our bookkeeping, since we always had to assume that money was still out there somewhere. We finally started giving her money orders instead of checks, so we could deduct that money from our bank balance immediately and not have to worry about stale checks at all.

Mary McMahon

Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

Learn more
SmartCapitalMind, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

SmartCapitalMind, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.