How Long Do You Have to Cash a Personal Check

how long do you have to cash a personal check

A check is a written document that allows you to withdraw money from someone else’s checking account referred to as the drawer. The drawer must also sign the document to make it valid. Checks allow you to make payments securely other than using cash since you can document the payment details for future reference. Also, they save you the energy of walking to your bank to withdraw money to pay someone. But how long do you have to cash a personal check?

We will be checking the duration you can take to cash a check. In short, I will discuss the validity of checks shortly so that you can have adequate knowledge about the checks. You will not be caught unaware that your check is invalid when you need to get an important payment.

We all understand that there are payments that you cannot appeal for another check once they expire. A good example is a random check from a well-wisher who may be nowhere to be found. Checks have been operating for many years now, and financial companies have gone a notch higher and developed electronic means of depositing or cashing out checks.

You can cash out or deposit a check in your bank or any other suitable financial company. Depositing means the funds go into your account, while cashing out means you get the cash once the check processing is over. Cashing out is suitable if you have no bank account or need the money urgently.

How does a check look like?

A check is a simple printed paper usually plucked from a checkbook. The document usually has fields that you should fill with the necessary details when writing to make a payment to someone. It has the address of the check owner on the top left, then a space to write the date on the right.

Slightly down, you will find a blank space that indicates “Pay to the order of” whereby you have to write the person’s name or the company you are paying. Below that, you will also find a blank space that you can use to write the amount you want to pay in words, plus another space to write the amount in figures.

Below the space to write the payment amount, you will find the bank logo, plus the bank name, then just below that, you will find a blank space labeled “For” where you should write why you are making the payments.

Adjacent to the space for writing the reason for writing the check, you can see another space to sign. At the bottom, you can see your bank’s routing number as the first set of numbers. Moving towards the right, you will see your account number, then your check number.

How to get a checkbook?

how long do you have to cash a personal check

A checkbook is easy to get once you open a checking account. By the way, the checking accounts have that name because they allow you to write checks. Checking accounts are bank accounts that allow you to deposit money for everyday uses. You can open a checking account online or at a branch.

Online account opening is convenient as you can carry out the opening process using your smartphone or computer. Even though most financial companies allow you to open accounts with a deposit, we still have banks with free checking accounts and no deposit that you can get today. For example, the Chime Spending account has no minimum balance requirement whatsoever.

You can request a checkbook when opening your account or apply later when your account is operational. Some financial companies may have regulations on how you can get a checkbook. Second chance checking accounts are less likely to offer checkbooks.

How to write a check?

The most important aspect of utilizing a checkbook is knowing how to write checks. If you make mistakes, you can lose money from your account. Again, a poorly written check lacking some details can easily bounce thus inconveniencing the payee. The following is the procedure for writing a check.

  • Start by writing the dates on the top left side of the check.
  • After that, write the name of the payee on the space labeled “Pay to the order of” just below the dates.
  • After that, write the amount to pay in words below the payee’s name. Also, write the amount in figures with cents clearly shown. 
  • Move down and write why you are making the payments on the space labeled “For” just below your bank’s logo.
  • Finally, check whether all the details are correct and sign. Make sure the signature is the same as that with your bank.

When writing a check, it is crucial to ensure that you have a sufficient amount of money to allow the withdrawal of the written amount. Insufficient funds can result in check bouncing. If you develop the habit of writing bouncing checks, you might find your name in the ChexSystem and find it challenging to apply for other bank accounts in other financial companies.

How do you get money out of your check?

There are various ways you can convert your check into cash. They include the following.

i) Take it to a bank

The main channel you can get money out of your check is via a bank. You can take the document to the nearest bank and request the cashier to process it. You can get cash from the check or just deposit the money in your account if you have an account with the bank.

The bank has to process the check to see if the drawer has sufficient money in their accounts and that the check is genuine. Once processing is over, you can get your money within the stipulated time. Keep in mind that there are processing fees that you have to part with when depositing the check.

You can also deposit or cash out a check at a credit union branch. Remember to carry your identification document, which can be your passport, driver’s license, state ID, military ID, or any other valid identification document.  

ii) Use mobile money platforms

Nowadays, it is easy to deposit your check using a mobile app. These include PayPal, Venmo, Cash App, etc. We also have prepaid cards with mobile check deposits. Such cards have online accounts whereby you can download an app from the card issuer to manage your card.

Such accounts allow you to deposit money in your account with just a few taps. The following is the process you can use to deposit a check using a mobile money app.

  • Sign the back of the check.
  • Open your mobile app and navigate to the check deposit section.
  • Take photos of your check, both the front and back of your check.
  • Upload them for processing.

 Ensure that you do not destroy the check until the processing is over and you get your money.

iii) Cash at an outlet

Various stores allow you to cash out your check at a fee. These can be grocery stores, wholesale retailers, and so on. A good example is Walmart which allows you to cash out at its stores countrywide. They only have to run the document in their systems to establish its validity.

iv) Deposit in an ATM

Many people do not know that it is possible to deposit a check at an ATM. The machines are not there to only vomit money but can help you cash out your check if you have a bank account with the ATM owner bank.

The ATM must also be able to accept check deposits. You need your debit card that links your account to carry out the process. The following is the procedure you can use.

  • Insert your debit card into the ATM.
  • Next, enter your PIN.
  • Choose the option “deposit check.”
  • Insert your check in the slot.
  • Follow the guidelines to complete the task.

v) Sell it to someone

Some checks are not specific to a particular payee. Therefore, anyone can cash them out. If you have no time to take the document to your bank, you can sell it to your friend and get cash. Your friend may give you less money than the value of the check.  

How long do you have to cash a personal check?

It is essential to know the time it takes for a check to expire so as not to get inconvenienced. Personal checks are valid for six months. That is approximately 180 days, although we have some exceptions. As a drawer, you must keep the amount of money you have written on checks in your account for at least six months until all payees withdraw them.

After six months, the payee should contact you and the bank to extend the deadline if they still need to deposit the checks. Treasury checks have a longer deadline than personal checks since they expire after one month. You, therefore, have to ensure that you deposit the checks within the time frame since the process of reissuing them can be challenging.

Bottom line

A check is a written document that allows you to withdraw money from the drawer’s account. It is usually signed to make it valid. You can get a checkbook when you open a checking account with your bank or credit union. Depositing checks is easy as you can do it at your bank’s branch, at an ATM point, sell it to someone, deposit at an outlet or use a mobile money platform.

Spencer Tierney is a writer and expert on certificates of deposits at His work has been featured by USA Today, MSN, SF Gate, the Los Angeles Times, NerdWallet and more. He earned a bachelor’s degree in English at UC Berkeley.