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Updated on Saturday, January 26, 2019
A postdated check is a check that is written with a future date on it.
- If it’s Jan. 5 but you write a check with a date of Jan. 25, you are postdating a check.
- Generally, people do this if they don’t currently have the funds available in their bank account but will have the funds available in the future and don’t want the check to bounce in the meantime.
- They might also choose to postdate a check if they are paying for something ahead of time before the payment is due or the service has been completed. However, individuals should know that postdating a check is not always worth doing.
This is because once a check is signed, it becomes legal tender. In other words, once you write a check, legally, it can be signed and cashed, regardless of its date. If this happens and you don’t have the funds available in your checking account to cover the check, you could be hit with an overdraft fee. You could also lose credibility with the person to whom you made out the check.
To avoid this from happening, you may be able to notify your bank ahead of time that you don’t want a check cashed until the date you’ve written on it. Some state laws could require a bank or credit union to wait to cash the check if you give reasonable notice. In your notice to your bank, you should provide the name of the payee, your account number, the check number and the amount of the check.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) indicates that if you provide written notice to a bank about a postdated check, your request should remain valid for six months. If you provide oral notice, your request should be valid for 14 days. It’s also possible that a bank will require you to pay a fee to process this request.
You might also want to communicate with the person you are writing the check to that you would like them to wait until the date specified. This could help manage their expectations and avoid bouncing a check.
That said, it is always better to avoid writing a postdated check if you can help it. Once you hand over a check to someone, they are generally in control of when it is cashed. A better alternative could be using an online bill pay service through your bank or another financial institution. Consumers can also apply for a loan from a bank or credit union to cover expenses, ask their employer for a pay advance or work out a payment plan with the person they are paying.
It’s also important to keep in mind that it is illegal to intentionally write a bad check. And while a postdated check isn’t in itself illegal, it could be wiser to avoid postdating a check and seeking an alternative way to make your payments.