Can I cash or deposit an old check?

Checks are not the most popular form of payment, though they’re still around. If you’ve got a check laying around that hasn’t been cashed, you might be wondering, can I cash or deposit an old check? 

Most banks will take checks up to 180 days after the date of signing, but some will make exceptions.

Banks have to ensure that the checks being cashed are legitimate and can make the final judgments based on their thoughts and the type of check you’re trying to cash. Below, we’ll go into detail about cashing an old check, helping you through the process.

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Can I cash or deposit an old check?

If you have a check that you haven’t cashed, you can likely cash it, though you’ll have to choose where you cash it wisely. Most banks will honor an outdated check as long as they have no reason to believe it’s been tampered with or fraudulent. You can also cash checks at cash checking stores.

Banks are your best bet for cashing old checks, though you have options with cash checking services. Watch out for fees and make sure that you read up on local regulations before cashing your check. They may not be lenient when it comes to expiration dates.

You will also want to consider who gave you the check and warn them. Cashing an old payroll check from a large business probably won’t hurt the company. However, cashing an old check from your grandma might be a surprise when the money leaves her account.

Contact the original check writer should the bank or check cashing service not cash the check. The original check writer may be able to write you a new check, but be sure to void the old one.

How long do you have to cash a check before it expires?

Personal and payroll checks are typically good for up to six months. Checks from the IRS or US Treasury checks are valid for up to one year. Money orders do not expire, but the fee may increase if you take too long to collect.

Each state sets their own abandoned property laws which govern the treatment of unclaimed property. These laws can apply to everything from items left behind at a rental to your unclaimed payroll check.

For example, your payroll check could be considered unclaimed in one to five years, depending on where you live. You can find your state’s statute on handling abandoned property by visiting Nolo’s website.

In general, the length of time you have to cash a check is as follows:

  • Payroll, Personal, and Certified checks are valid for at least six-months
  • U.S. Treasury Checks are good for one year
  • Money orders do not expire

Checks that come from businesses or the IRS are easier to get cashed or reissued. All businesses and the IRS are required to give you money that you are owed. Therefore, if you failed to cash a check then you can usually get these checks reissued without any problems.

Where can I cash an old check?

Cash an old check by first visiting your bank and seeing if they can cash the check. Next, go to the bank where the check was issued if your bank wouldn’t cash the check. You can also cash the check at check cashing services, PayPal or Venmo, ATM or mobile app deposits, etc. 

Another option is to go to places that allow you to cash checks. Many places like Walmart, Kmart, and many other retailers have checking services, which could be a good option for you if you’re looking for a quick way to cash an old check.

 A few other options you have to include:

  • Depositing the check in an ATM
  • Going to any bank (yours or another) to try and cash the check
  • Try and cash your check in a cash-checking store
  • Use your PC or mobile phone to try and deposit
  • If you have PayPal, give it a try

What fees are involved in cashing old checks?

When you take a check to your bank, you’re not likely to be charged any fees. Cashing checks at a bank you don’t bank with may result in a fee between $10 and $30. 

Using a different bank

Using a bank to cash an old check that is not your bank is not always a possibility. One thing that could happen is that the bank could refuse to cash your check. They risk the check not going through, which costs them further down the line.

If they decide to take it, you’re likely to have to pay a fee. Some of which can go up to $30 or more depending on the type of check and the amount it’s for.

Check cashing services

In department stores where cash checking services are offered, you can cash checks without many fees attached. Most of the time, these fees are no more than $4 for a $1,000 check, making it both affordable and simple.

Check-cashing stores

Check-cashing stores are one of the most expensive when it comes to cashing your checks. They usually have service fees and may charge you a percentage of your check just for cashing it. If you’re looking for an affordable alternative, then cash checking services are one of the best.

Where do I have the best chance of cashing an old check?

To get an old or outdated check cashed without any hassle, it’s recommended to visit your bank. You have a relationship with them and some customer history, making you more trustworthy. The next best place to cash an old check is through the issuing bank.

If you don’t have a personal bank, your best bet is to go to the issuing bank where the check is from. They will honor their customer’s checks for the most part, as long as they don’t suspect any foul play.

You want to save cash checking services and stores as a last resort, as there may be a lot of fees involved. Plus, your chances of getting checks cashed that are old or outdated with them is much lower, as they have a lot more restrictions in place for cashing checks.

Summary: Can I cash or deposit an old check?

As you can see, it is possible to cash or deposit an old check. Most checks will allow you up to 180 days to cash the check or you’ll have to get the check reissued. Some banks will allow you to cash the check beyond the 180 days.

Most government, payroll, or IRS checks can be reissued without any problems. You are typically owed this money, meaning they will reissue the check if you haven’t already cashed it.

The best place to cash an old check is through your bank. Your bank is most likely to cash an old check if you have a clean banking history. Alternatively, you can try cashing a check at the issuing bank.


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John is the founder of TightFist Finance and an expert in the field of personal finance. John has studied personal finance for over 10 years and has used his knowledge to pay down debt, grow his investment portfolio, and launch a financial based business. He is committed to sharing content related to personal finance based on his experience in his career, investing, and path towards reaching financial independence.