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How to Stop Payment On a Check

By Sheryl Nance-Nash · April 22, 2021 · 4 minute read

We’re here to help! First and foremost, SoFi Learn strives to be a beneficial resource to you as you navigate your financial journey. Read more We develop content that covers a variety of financial topics. Sometimes, that content may include information about products, features, or services that SoFi does not provide. We aim to break down complicated concepts, loop you in on the latest trends, and keep you up-to-date on the stuff you can use to help get your money right. Read less

How to Stop Payment On a Check

There are many reasons why you might want to stop payment on a check. One common one is when a check gets lost or stolen.

You might also want to cancel a check if you accidentally sent it to the wrong address, or you put incorrect information on a check.

Or, you might want to cancel a check or an electronic payment if you realize that you don’t have enough money in your account to cover it.

The good news is that you can stop a check or an electronic payment from being processed by calling or going into your bank. The process of canceling a check or payment is called a stop payment order.

Here are some key things to keep in mind (including costs) when setting up a stop payment.

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The First Step: Checking Your Account

Before you start the process of canceling a check or payment, it’s a good idea to make sure it hasn’t already been processed.

You can do this by pulling up your account online or calling the bank’s automated phone line to see if the check or payment has already been deducted from your account.

If the amount has been processed, your opportunity is gone. If it hasn’t, however, you can likely stop the check or payment from being cashed or deposited.

How a Stop-Payment Order Works

A stop payment order is a formal request to cancel a check or ACH payment (such as a recurring monthly bill payment) before it’s been processed.

Stop payment orders on checks typically last for six months. Since personal checks are typically good for six months after being issued, that should be a sufficient amount of time to prevent the check from being cashed.

However, many banks allow you to renew a stop payment order if the check is still outstanding. If your bank charges a stopped check fee, they may also charge a fee to renew the stop payment order.

Stop payment orders on ACH payments last indefinitely.

Recommended: How Long is a Check Good For?

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Stopping Payment on the Check

Typically, you can request a stop payment by calling your bank or visiting a branch. Some financial institutions also allow you to do it online.

If you contact your bank by phone, the bank may also require written notification within 14 days (otherwise, the stop payment might expire).

To put a stop payment on a paper check, you may want to grab your checkbook and be sure you have the following information about the check you want to cancer at the ready:

•   Account number
•   Routing number
•   Recipient name
•   Check date
•   Check number
•   Check amount

Accuracy is important–if you give the bank any incorrect information, the check might still be cashed.

For ACH payments, you may be asked to supply the company name, account number, ACH merchant ID, and the payment amount.

Depending on your reason for requesting a stop payment order, you may also want to contact the payee in order to let them know about the stop payment. You can then arrange for a new payment if needed.

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How Much Does It Cost to Stop Payment On a Check?

Just as with cashing a check, fees for stopping payment on a check vary from one bank to the next.

According to a banking analysis by MyBankTracker, stop payment fees charged by U.S. banks range from $15 to $36, with the average coming in at $32.40.

Some banks will waive the stop payment fee for customers with premium-tier checking accounts.

Some banks charge different fees for different top payment methods, such as $30 in the bank and $25 if you order the stop payment over the phone or online.

Alternatives to Stop-Payment Orders

While you can stop an automatic electronic payment by placing a stop payment order through your bank, another option is to contact the business or vendor directly.

Whether it’s your electric bill or a monthly streaming service, companies can typically stop or delay billing on request.

If you stop a bill payment via the bank without first reaching out to the service provider, the company can respond by cutting off your access to its services.

If you, instead, delay the automatic debit by working with the vendor, you may be able to avoid a disruption in service, and also avoid paying a stop payment fee to the bank.

The Takeaway

Mistakes and miscommunication can happen, and checks sometimes get lost or stolen. That’s when a stop payment order can come in handy.

A stop payment is a request for a bank to stop a check or recurring debit payment that’s waiting to be processed.

Stop payment requests can only be made by the account holder who sent the original payment, and must be made before the check or payment has been processed.

Stop payments often incur a fee, which can vary from $15 to $36 depending on the institution you bank with.

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Looking for an easy way to keep track of your money? Consider signing up for a checking and savings account with SoFi.

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