Part of taking care of finances requires you to understand how personal checks work. In order to pay bills, square things up with friends and gift money to family, a checking account with personal checks is a must-have.
It is particularly important to know the instances that can deter a bank from accepting a personal check. One situation that makes banks hesitate to cash a check is an old check. The standard time allotted for cashing a check is 60 to 90 days, but in some cases, banks will allow you to deposit or cash a check up to six months old. Stale-dated is the term used when referencing an old check.
Read More: How Long Before a Personal Check Expires?
If Your Check Is Stale-Dated
A bank, by law, can reject a check that is older than six months. If this happens to you, there are a few things you can do to resolve it. You can petition the bank to reconsider, especially if you have a long bank history with them. In addition, you can reach out to the owner and ask if there is money in the account so you can be confident that the check will clear.
Another option is to contact the owner of the check and request a new check. This is a sure way to get that cash into your account.
Read More: How to Find Out if Your Checks Are Still Good
How to Write a Check
Although it may seem elementary to reference the proper way to write a check, it is essential to understanding why banks will not accept stale-dated checks. Always double-check that you've filled in all the information needed on a check.
Put the Date
The very first part of the check that you want to fill in is the date. This is important because if you have a check that is written for a future date, the bank won't allow it to be cashed or deposited until that date. On the other hand, if the date is older than six months, some banks consider it stale-dated and will not cash it.
The reasoning behind it is that the checking account may not still have the funds available for that check, and the check has a higher chance of bouncing. In addition, when a bank merges, the routing number on the check changes. The longer a check sits, the probability of a merger increases, which would prevent the check from cashing.
Specify the Recipient
The first line of the check is where you will fill in the recipient's name or company name. The recipient can always fill this part in themselves so as to avoid any misspelling. It is important to make sure if you are paying a bill to write the exact 'pay to' mentioned on the bill itself. If the check becomes stale-dated, the bank could use this section to ask for identification and address in case the check bounces.
Include the Amount
The box at the end of the recipient line is for the numerical amount of money that the check represents. This must match the written amount that follows on the line below. Any discrepancies will cause a hiccup at the bank.
Add Your Signature
At the very bottom of the check is a line for your signature. If you forget or fail to sign a check, the bank will not cash it, even if all the other information is correct. Your signature is giving the recipient permission to cash the check.
Write a Memo
Although not necessary, the memo section of the check can be very helpful for good bookkeeping. Another use for the memo section is to write account numbers for the bills that you're paying with that check. This acts as a reference if you need to prove payment on an account.
Once these sections on the check are all in order, you can feel confident in sending it off to be cashed. Few situations are more awkward than someone reaching out to you because the check you wrote wasn't right.
With over seven years of freelance writing experience across a variety of genres, I have quite a bit of education and research to share with those looking for financial guidance. My personal experiences, including two house purchases, two paid off car loans, home refinance, and a Home Equity Line of Credit process, give me the practical knowledge to assist with large financial decisions. Meanwhile, budgeting everyday necessities for a family of seven focuses my expertise on daily savings. In addition, I have written financial articles for a top ranking finance site, Go Banking Rates.