Guide to Postdated Checks

By Jacqueline DeMarco · July 07, 2022 · 5 minute read

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Guide to Postdated Checks

If a check writer doesn’t want the payee to be able to cash it immediately, they may choose to “postdate” it: On the date line they will simply write in a future date. This can be helpful if someone needs to deliver a check before they have the funds necessary for the check to clear in their account.

What is a postdated check? Keep reading to learn more about how this payment process works.

What Is a Postdated Check?

What does it mean to postdate a check? When someone writes a postdated check, they write a future date on the check instead of the date the check was actually written. A payer might do this so a check can’t be deposited until that later date (when they’ll have the funds available in their bank account). This can come in handy when someone wants to mail a check to pay a bill before the due date, but knows their paycheck won’t be deposited into their account until a later date.

Writing a postdated check involves the same process as writing a normal check, except the current date isn’t used.

Are Postdated Checks Legal?

Usually, postdated checks are legal in the U.S., but it’s worth verifying the rules in the state where the check writer lives. Note that these guidelines may not cover cashier’s checks or traveler’s checks, which have their own rules and limitations.

Word to the wise: Postdating is sometimes used for fraudulent purposes, so think twice before agreeing to accept a postdated check, especially from someone you don’t know well.

Recommended: How to Verify a Check Before Depositing

Can You Cash a Postdated Check?

Generally, the payee has to wait to cash a postdated check until the date specified on the check arrives. That being said, some financial institutions may cash a check prior to that date.

If a payer wants to guarantee that a check won’t be cashed until a certain date, they can make a formal post-dating request with their bank. The bank may charge a fee to do this.

Even if a bank or credit union is willing to cash a postdated check before the date written on the check, the payee may be better off waiting to cash it. The odds are that the payer added a postdate because at the time they didn’t have the funds available in their account to cover the check.

If the payee cashes it too soon, the check may bounce and cause problems for both parties. If the payee is eager to cash the check earlier, they may want to consult the payer on whether or not it’s safe to do so.

Recommended: How to Sign Over a Check to Someone Else

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Alternatives to Postdated Checks

Check writers who want to buy some time until a deposit to their account clears have other options besides postdated checks.

Online and Automatic Bill Payments

One option for making future payments without having to postdate a check is to go digital: The payer can go online to schedule a bill to be paid on the exact date of their choosing. As a bonus, there’s no need to order checks or manage a checkbook with this payment method.

At your request, some businesses — including mortgage, utility, and credit card companies — can change the due date of your monthly bill to one of your choosing. For instance, if you get paid on the first of the month, you can request that the due date of your rent or mortgage payment always be 3 days later. That way, you can set up automated bill pay without worrying about your transaction clearing.

Payment Plans

Before you consider postdating a check to avoid overdrawing your checking account, ask if the business will offer you a payment plan. Some companies will allow individuals to make smaller, incremental payments over time rather than one big payment. Make sure to find out first if the payment plan involves a fee or interest.

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Is postdating a check illegal?

No, it’s generally not illegal to postdate a check. That said, it’s a good idea to learn about the laws governing postdating checks in your area. Postdating a check can be considered a crime if the payer’s account does not have the required funds to process the check and if they intended to defraud the payee when they issued the postdated check.

Can you deposit a postdated check?

Some banks accept postdated checks if they are dated and signed. However, since postdated checks are often used when the payer is waiting for funds to clear in their account, you may be better off just waiting for the date on the check.

What is postdating a payment?

Postdating a payment refers to postdating a check. When someone postdates a check, that signals that they don’t want the payee to cash the check until that date. Some banks or credit unions still allow payees to cash postdated checks if they are signed by the payer. So if someone really doesn’t want a check to cash before a certain date, they should ask their bank about issuing a formal post-dating notice (which may incur a fee).

Photo credit: iStock/AndreyPopov

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