How to cancel a check: 4 important steps

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If you need to cancel a check, you can ask your bank to cancel it and avoid having the funds withdrawn from your bank account. Follow these steps to stop that check in its tracks.

1. Find out if the payment has already been processed

Before you start the process of canceling a check, review your checking account activity to verify that the check has not yet cleared. The bank will not be able to stop the payment if the check has been cashed or is being processed.

If you don’t see the amount in your transaction history, you need to act fast. That check could be just a few minutes away from being deposited.

2. Have your account number and check number ready

Make sure you have the key information your bank will need to process your request: your account number and the check number. You may also need to include the payment amount and the recipient.

The bank might request information on why you are canceling the check. Was it made out for the wrong amount or to the wrong payee? Are you disputing the transaction? Or was the check stolen? If you’re worried about a lost checkbook, the bank may need to do more than simply stop one payment.

3. Contact your bank – and get ready to pay

Once you have all the details, it’s time to contact your bank or credit union. Even though you are looking to cancel a check, you might not see that exact wording on your financial institution’s website. Instead, you might see “stop payment.” It accomplishes the same objective: not allowing those funds to leave your account.

It’s best to cancel a check online if your bank offers the option, for two reasons:

  • It puts the request in writing.
  • It might be a bit cheaper.

For example, Chase customers can save $5 for using an online or automated system to cancel a check instead of calling to talk to an actual person. If you cannot access your bank’s online services, it’s best to call the customer service number on the back of your debit card.

If you have an account at a traditional bank, you’ll probably pay a fee in exchange for not paying the amount on the check. You may be exempt from the charge if you have a higher-tier account, though. Check out the typical costs for canceling a check at some of the most-recognized names in banking.

Financial institution Fee for canceling a check
Bank of America $30

Waived for: Bank of America Advantage Relationship Banking, Bank of America Advantage with Tiered Interest Checking and Bank of America Advantage Regular Checking accounts plus Preferred Rewards customers.

 Chase $30 ($25 if the request is made via, the Chase mobile app or the bank’s automated phone system)
 Citibank $30

Waived for: Customers with Citi Priority and Citigold account packages

TD Bank $30

Waived for: Beyond Checking, Beyond Savings, Private Tiered Checking and Private Tiered Savings account holders

PNC $33

Waived for: Performance Select customers

Fifth Third $33

Waived for: Preferred Banking customers

4. Understand how long your request will be honored

Stopping a payment may not mean forever. Make sure you understand how long your request will be honored. Most policies last for six months, and checks are typically void after six months. However, there are exceptions. And even if you canceled the check, it’s still smart to monitor your account activity to make sure the request was processed successfully.

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Written by
David McMillin
Contributing writer
David McMillin writes about credit cards, mortgages, banking, taxes and travel. David's goal is to help readers figure out how to save more and stress less.
Edited by
Senior editorial director
Reviewed by
Professor of finance, Creighton University