Postdated Check Meaning – What Is It & Can You Deposit One?

Your lease is due in a week, and you don’t want to miss the deadline. You want to send your payment now, while it’s still fresh in your mind. But you won’t have the money to cover the payment until it’s close to the due date.

So you put a check in the mail today, but you date it a week from now. Landlords get your payments early, giving you good tenant brownie points, but they can’t cash them out until you’re ready to cash them out. Explosion! Solved.

But not enough. Postdating checks is not a foolproof strategy as you might think.

What Is a Back Check?

Post-dated checks are checks with a future date, not the date you wrote the check. Postponing a check is a way of trying to ensure that you have enough funds in your account to close the check when it clears.

For example, your electricity bill is due on January 15th. You want to take care of all your monthly bills on the 1st so you can pay them off in one fell swoop. But with all the other expenses you’ll incur between the 1st and 15th, you know you won’t have enough money to pay the power company until near the due date.

So you mail them a check on January 1st but date it on January 15th. That tells them that you don’t want them cashing their check earlier than January 15th, even if they receive it sooner.

Why Postdating Checks Can Be a Bad Idea

Delaying a check doesn’t guarantee the recipient won’t cash it earlier, even if they see it. This is more a suggestion than a requirement.

Depending on your state’s laws, you may be able to notify your bank (orally or in writing) and ask them not to cash the check before the date you write on it. Contact your bank to learn about its policies.

But for the most part, once the recipient approves the check, it becomes legal tender and they can cash it immediately. If you don’t have enough funds to cover it, you could incur overdraft fees or insufficient funds. In addition, the recipient may charge a late fee if your initial payment is not successful.

If you bounce too many checks, your bank may close your account and report you to ChexSystems, which can hurt your chances of opening a new account.

Alternatives for Posting Check Dates

Deferring checks isn’t the only way to make payments with funds you don’t have on hand. Consider these (often more convenient and reliable) alternatives.

Make Online Payments

Most companies you’re used to paying, such as utilities and telephone service providers, offer online payment options. And many of these companies allow you to schedule your payments for a future date. You can “make” a payment now but guarantee the funds won’t be withdrawn from your account until you want them to.

Schedule Automatic Payments

Take online payments one step further by scheduling automatic withdrawals. Choose a date that you know you will have funds in your account and authorize the company to withdraw a certain amount each month on that date.

You no longer have to worry about making your payments on time — they’ll come right out of your account each month without you having to think about it. Make sure you always have enough funds to pay for these monthly payments, especially if the amount varies each month.

Use Online Bill Payment

Many banks and credit unions offer a service called online bill paying. You schedule a payment — either one-time or recurring — on the institution’s website or app, and they send the payment to the recipient when it’s due. You can make all your regular payments in one place instead of visiting multiple individual company websites.

As long as you know you’ll have enough money in your account by the date you schedule, you’re set.

Checkback FAQ

Since post-date checks aren’t something most people do often, there are some common questions about the process.

Yes. However, make sure you have sufficient funds in your account when the check clears. If the check bounces, you could be charged an overdraft or insufficient funds. If you bounce too many checks, the bank may close your account.

Speaking of the law, striking a check after you know you won’t have the funds to cover it is check fraud. That requires direct proof that you intend to deceive someone, which may be hard to prove, but it’s not a risk worth taking.

How Can I Stop Someone From Cashing Late Checks?

There’s not much you can do to stop someone cashing a postdated check before the date written on it. You can ask the recipient not to cash out early and hope they will respect your wishes. Depending on your state, you may be able to instruct your bank not to cash the check early.

If you already sent a check, you can stop the payment if it hasn’t cleared. You may be charged a stoppage fee, which can cost anywhere from $15 to $35.

Can I Cash Late Checks Early?

Technically, yes. But if the check bounces, you can face a return item fee ranging from around $25 to $40.

Plus, it’s kind of a jerk move. You run the risk of ruining your relationship with the sender. Be careful and wait until the date written on the check to cash it.

Final Word

Check writing has become largely obsolete. Almost every company you need to pay has an online payment option these days, and many people have accounts with payment apps like PayPal and Zelle.

That said, you may still need to write checks from time to time. Maybe your landlord is old and insists you pay your rent by check. Maybe you want to give money to a family member for their wedding, but you don’t like the idea of ​​putting cash on a card. Maybe you want to donate to a charity that doesn’t accept online payments.

In these cases, postdating makes sense if you need some breathing room between the time the check leaves your hand and the time it is cashed. Be aware that there is still a chance that the recipient may pre-cash it, so check with your bank’s policies first.

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