Do You Postdate Your Checks? Here Are Some Things to Know - Quicken Loans Zing Blog

Because I make most of my payments online, it’s not too often that I bust out the checkbook. A few weeks ago, however, I wrote a check and got a nasty surprise in my bank account. After the initial period of panic, grief and anger toward the bank and the person who had cashed the check, I did some serious digging into the regulations surrounding postdated checks. If you’re going to write a postdated check (or receive one), here are some things you should know!

What Does It Mean to Postdate a Check?

When you postdate a check, you put a future date on it. For instance, if you write a check on June 1 but date the check June 25, you are postdating the check.

Why Would You Postdate a Check?

If you won’t have the funds available at the time the check is written, you might consider postdating the check. For instance, if you’ll be out of town when rent is due, but don’t have the funds to pay rent early, you might postdate your check. However, keep in mind that it is illegal to intentionally write a bad check; if you’re postdating it with the intention of canceling it before the date, or if you know for certain that you won’t have the funds, you could run into legal trouble.

Can a Postdated Check Be Cashed Before the Date?

The laws differ from state to state, but the short answer is yes.

Once you sign the check, it becomes legal tender, so it’s 100% legal for a bank to cash a postdated check before the date on it. I postdated my check because I didn’t want to miss the due date, and I intended to transfer the funds closer to the date I wrote on the check. Just a day or two after I mailed the check, it was cashed – a full two weeks before the check was dated. The check emptied my checking account, and since I had set up overdraft protection, it withdrew the rest of the funds from a savings account. Luckily, I avoided overdraft fees, but this situation was still quite worrying. What if the check had bounced? What if this created an overdraft and I had to pay expensive fees?

Once you sign a check, it can legally be cashed – regardless of the date you wrote on it – by the payee.

Can You Prevent the Check from Being Cashed Early?

There is a way to prevent the payee from cashing the check before the date: providing reasonable notice to your bank.

If you find it necessary to write a postdated check, and you provide your bank with reasonable notice not to cash your postdated check, then the bank may not legally cash it. In your notice, you’ll want to provide information such as the name of the payee, your account number, the check number and the amount of the check. There are some caveats to this, which depend on the manner in which you provide notice to your bank, according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB):

  • If you provide written notice about a postdated check, your notice is valid for six months. “During that time, the bank or credit union should not cash the check before the date you wrote on the check,” according to the CFPB.
  • If you only provide oral notice, your notice is only valid for 14 days. After that 14-day period, the bank or credit union can cash the check, even if it’s before the date you wrote on it.

So what happens if the bank cashes your check despite your reasonable notice? Well, the bank may then be liable to you for damages, like overdraft fees, for instance. According to this article, you should first ask your bank manager about waiving any fees. If that doesn’t work, recuperating your losses may require a consultation with an attorney.

What If You Receive a Postdated Check and Want to Cash It?

If you’re on the other end of the transaction, it’s up to you to decide whether to accept a postdated check. If you do accept it, you should check with your bank to see if they can process the check before the date on the check. If the person who wrote the check has provided reasonable notice of postdating to their bank, however, you will not be able to cash the check early. See for more information.

It’s a common misconception that postdating your check will ensure that the money stays in your account until the date on the check, but this isn’t necessarily the case. By providing notice to your bank or just not writing a check until you can afford to, you can avoid fees and protect your money.

If you’ve still got questions about postdated checks, leave them in the comments section below!


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This Post Has 21 Comments

  1. Providing notice to your bank means placing a stop payment on the post dated check and having the stop payment expire on the date of the check, this can also be subject to a stop payment fee. The best advise anyone can give you when dealing with a post dated check is did not write or accept them, because in most cases the funds are not available in the account to pay the check. If you read your bank’s account agreement it will say “we are not responsible if you write a post dated check and it clears before the date on the check”.

  2. We are looking to hire a post-pardom nurse. She wants 10 days pay in advance which I’m not comfy with. Anything can change in the next 8-weeks and she can run away with our money. Was thinking of post-dating checks. Any other suggestions?

  3. Just today I for the first time post dated a check accidentally. I have the money to cover it but it occurred to me doing something else I had written 17 instead if 11. This is for a shell bill. I’m hoping it won’t get there til then but I can’t retrieve it out of the lockbox. I’m very upset that the check won’t be accepted by Shell and I sure hope my bank accepts it. I have very good credit I don’t want a mark.

  4. Good post, thank you! I post dated a rent check as well a while back and learned the hard way, that it’s in vain. They cashed it anyways! I learned my lesson. I wanted to post date a check as a gift, and after reading this article and conversing with another individual, I have decided to just write a smaller check haha! Thanks again!

  5. Will I be able to issue a post dated cheque to a person if there is insufficient funds just yet in my account? For example – I have only $5,000 remaining in my account and I issue a $30,000 today (Nov 5) to a business partner dated for Nov 25, will payee be able to encash this? Will it not bounced? How many days do I need to fund my account again to avoid bounced cheque?

    1. Good morning, Jo. I recommend that you speak with your bank about this situation. As the article explains, you could potentially give written notice to your bank, allowing you to post date it up to six months in the future. Again, though, speak with them about their policies on the matter before going forward. Best of luck to you.

  6. Meliissa, You should be able to, but as indicated above, you should verify with your bank first.
    I would however wait until the date written on a check.

    In Canada, things are different and they are on the lookout to NOT cash in post dated checks ‘early’. I frankly don’t see the point in writing a post dated check if the date isn’t going to be honored. If I write it for a later date, I’m saying ‘On that day, the money will be there for sure, not before then’. A check is illegal when you intend to cancel prior to it being cashed in or you’re writing it with full knowledge that it will bounce.

    1. Technically, you probably could, Meliissa. But if you’ve agreed to cashing it in the future, you should probably hold yourself to that agreement.

  7. Wrote a post dated check in MN and the person cashed it early. Per MN law I’m not legally responsible for a bad check. However he caused my account to bounce. Would he then be responsible for the overdraft fees that it caused or should I just pay him the money and be done with it.

    1. Hello! You will certainly need to speak with your bank about this situation. Please let us know how it goes and best of luck!

  8. It appears you misunderstood Lanovas’ query. Cancelled checks would probably be fine, but postdated checks are something completely different. I would also be very wary of possibly paying a full years’ rent in advance. Since postdated checks can usually be cashed immediately, it sounds like a gamble I would be afraid to take.

  9. I’m renting a new residence and the Realtor is asking for 12 postdated checks written to the owner for the term of the lease. Is this legal? Does it sound sketchy? I’ve never had a Realtor ask me to do this before. CanAm Realty in Chandler, Az doesn’t have any BBB ratings so I’m a bit apprehensive. I have to be out of my current place in 2 weeks so I’m desperate!

    1. Hi Lanova! The mortgage company will need 12 months canceled checks to prove you are paying. Your realtor may just be trying to stay one step ahead of the lender by asking you for it now.

  10. I got a question, I got rent due on the 4th, but expect a direct deposit on the 7th, could i pay rent on the 4th by paying a check postdated to the 7th, and informing my bank, could they allow it to be pending, since i got a few hundred in my account, and allow it to clear on the 7th?

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