It’s possible you might need to cancel a check in the future. Maybe you wrote the check for the wrong amount, or perhaps the check was lost or stolen. There might not even be enough money in your account to cover the check.
Regardless of the reason, you typically can initiate a “stop payment” on a check issued by your financial institution. This stops payment of a check that hasn’t been processed yet. Typically, you’ll pay a fee of about $30 to cancel a check. Keep reading to learn what steps you need to take to cancel a check.
Steps to Cancel a Check
If you have to cancel a check, follow these steps. Keep in mind the stop-payment process varies slightly from one financial institution to another.
1. Find Out Whether the Check Has Cleared
Log into your online account to see whether the check has already been cashed or deposited. If you’re unsure, call or visit your financial institution. Note that you can’t stop payment on a check that’s already been cashed or deposited.
2. Get Information About the Check
To cancel a check, make sure you have the following information available:
- Check number
- Dollar amount of the check
- Date written on the check
- Name of the recipient, such as a person or organization
3. Contact Your Bank or Credit Union
When you decide to stop payment on a check, contact your bank or credit union immediately. Keep in mind that you may be unable to initiate a stop-payment request outside normal business hours.
In general, a bank or credit union can’t cash a check for six months if you make a timely stop-payment request in writing, according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. If you make a stop-payment request by phone and don’t follow up in writing, the bank or credit union can’t cash the check for 14 days.
Some financial institutions may let you extend a check cancellation once the six-month or 14-day period has expired. This may result in another fee, though.
4. Make Your Stop-Payment Request
Some financial institutions may insist that you put your request in writing, while others might allow an over-the-phone request. You can call or visit your financial institution to begin the stop-payment process.
Some banks and credit unions also may let you make a stop-payment request online or via mobile app.
A stop payment typically takes effect immediately.
What happens if your financial institution accidentally processes a check after you’ve canceled it? The financial institution typically must cover the amount of the check, as long as you have proof that you legitimately stopped the payment.
However you arrange a stop-payment transaction, be prepared to pay a fee around $30.
5. Reach Out to the Recipient
Based on the situation, you may want to let the intended recipient of the check know that you’ve stopped payment on it and then work out a new payment.
Stop Payment Fees at Major U.S. Banks
|Stop payment fee
|Bank of America
|$0 for Bank of America Advantage Relationship Banking, Bank of America with Tiered Interest Checking and Bank of America Advantage Regular Checking accounts, plus Preferred Rewards accounts
|$30 for bank-assisted stop payment; $25 for stop payment done online, via app or through automated phone system
|$0 for Chase Sapphire Checking, Chase Private Client Checking and Private Client Savings accounts
|$0 for Citi Priority, Citigold and Citigold Private Client accounts
|$0 for Virtual Wallet with Performance Select accounts
|$0 for Premium and Pinnacle accounts, as well as military customers
|$0 for Premier Checking accounts