Stop Payment: What It Is and How It Works

what is a stop payment and how it works

You can make a stop payment on a check when you want your bank or credit union to cancel a check you sent to a person or institution before it has been processed. You may want to request a stop payment on a check if you believe you are the victim of fraud, if you’ve been overcharged or if you decide to cancel a transaction. This request can be made through the financial institution that holds the account linked to the check.

Consider the cost of a stop payment, the steps and the types of checks you can stop payments on before writing your next check.

How Does a Stop Payment Work?

You can request a stop payment on a check you wrote through the financial institution that holds the account linked to the check you are canceling. With most banks, you can make your stop payment request through the online banking website, your local banking branch or by calling customer service.

Before you begin the process, you will need to have the following information to present to your bank:

This should be done in a timely manner because a stop payment needs to be placed before the check has been cashed.

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Find Out: An Illustrated Guide To Reading a Check

How Long Does a Stop Payment Last?

A stop payment will last six months on a personal check. After six months, you can request another stop payment, but checks generally become “stale dated” after six months. When a check is “stale dated,” financial institutions are no longer obligated to process or cash the check.

Learn More: 5 Best Check-Cashing Apps

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How Much Does a Stop Payment Cost?

Stop payments will usually cost you a fee unless you have a higher-tier account with your bank that offers free stop payments as a feature.

Consider your bank’s stop payment fee compared to other financial institutions.

National Banks Stop Payment Fees
Bank Fee
U.S. Bank $35, or free if you are a current or former military service member
Chase Bank $30, or $25 if you place your request online or through Chase’s automated phone service. If you have a higher-tier level account, this request is free.
Ally Bank $15
Synchrony Bank $25

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Can I Order a Stop Payment on Any Kind of Payment?

Personal checks are not the only payment method that allows you to make this request. You can order a stop payment on the following types of payments:

  • Personal checks: This is the most basic type of stop payment request. There is usually a fee for the request, and it is in effect for six months.
  • Cashier’s checks: Cashier’s checks, teller’s checks and certified checks can have a stop payment go into effect 90 days after the check has been issued.
  • Money orders: You can make a stop payment request on a money order. You must fill out a form and send it to your financial institution before the money order has been deposited or cashed. However, you cannot make a stop payment request on a money order through the United States Postal Service once it is in the mainstream.
  • Electronic Payments/ACH: Stop payments last indefinitely for payments made electronically through the National Automated Clearing House Association like direct deposits, etc.
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Related: When Do Checks Expire and How Do You Know?

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Is It Legal To Stop Payment?

It is legal to stop payment on a check by anyone who is authorized to draw on the account that the check is linked to. Depending on your state of residence, stopping payment on a check to avoid a legitimate debt can be considered fraud or illegal. In general, this is legal if handled within the guidelines of your financial institutions.

Ultimately, stop payments are an easy and quick way to prevent unwanted or unnecessary payments. Financial institutions offer clear steps to request a stop payment that make this process simple and accessible.

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