This handy guide explains how to cancel a check properly and when canceling a check might be a bad idea.

How to stop payment on a check

Some banks let you request a stop payment using their mobile app
panuwat phimpha / Shutterstock
Some banks let you stop a payment using their mobile app

Whether you made an error on a personal check or a check has gone missing, here are the steps to put a stop on it.

First, review your transaction history by looking at your online banking to see whether the check may have cleared. Then, call your bank's customer service number to verify the check’s status. If it has not cleared, you still have time to cancel it.

If you’re canceling a check due to a clerical error on your part, notify the recipient that you’ll be stopping the check and sending a new one.

Next, request a stop payment order on the check by notifying your bank either online, through its mobile app, over the phone or at a branch. You’ll need to provide:

  • Your checking account number.
  • The exact amount the check was written for.
  • The check number.
  • The recipient the check was made payable to.

Then, follow up on your request in writing. Confirming your stop payment order in writing ensures that the bank will honor your request for six months. Most financial institutions won’t allow anyone to cash a check that’s more than six months old, so this will effectively cancel yours. Be aware that if you don’t put your request in writing, the bank may block your payment for only 14 business days.

You'll need to pay a fee for the stop payment request. Most banks charge between $15 and $30 to stop a check, but they often waive the fee for customers with top-tier checking accounts or credit cards.

Finally, if a missing check cleared and you suspect fraud, contact your bank and ask for an investigation. You will not be held responsible for a check if someone forged your signature.

Simply add Capital One Shopping to your browser, and shop like normal. This free tool does the work for you.

Install Capital One Shopping

A different process for cashier's checks

You’ll need to file a 'declaration of loss' to cancel a cashier's check
fizkes / Shutterstock
You’ll need to file a 'declaration of loss' to cancel a cashier's check

Cashier’s checks are considered a guaranteed payment method, because the bank has already taken the amount on the check from your account and is committed to paying the recipient using those funds.

Given the nature of cashier's checks, stop payment requests are typically not available.

But while banks rarely stop cashier’s checks, they will consider it in cases of fraud. If you suspect a cashier’s check has been lost or stolen, you can request a cancellation.

To do this, you’ll need to file a declaration of loss, which will state — under the penalty of perjury — that you don’t have the check.

Filing this declaration starts a 90-day waiting period. Once time is up, the bank will return your money.

If your cashier's check was stolen, a thief could cash it within the 90-day window — so it’s essential to pay close attention to your transaction history and immediately notify your bank if the check was cashed.

Can you stop a check over a dispute?

Don't cancel a check over a dispute
StockLite / Shutterstock
Don't cancel a check over a dispute

Requesting a stop payment order is a good move if a check has been lost or stolen, was written incorrectly, or if you suspect fraudulent activity involving your bank account.

But it's risky to stop a check because of a dispute — if, for example, you paid a contractor and the person didn't complete all of the work.

In this situation, canceling the check could bring you some legal trouble. If you receive goods or services you paid for by check and then stop that payment, that could be considered check fraud.

Your best course of action is to speak with a lawyer about your options for settling the dispute.

Sign up for Credit Sesame and see everything your credit score can do for you, find the best interest rates, and save more money at every step of the way.

Get Started—100% Free

How to cancel other forms of payment

Money orders can be canceled if they haven’t been deposited. To do this, you’ll need to fill out a form and mail it or submit it in person to the agency or business that issued the money order. Canceling a money order can take one to two months and costs about $6 to $20.

Electronic payment transfers (or ACH payments) can be reversed if you sent the wrong amount of money, sent it to the wrong account or were charged twice in error.

To stop a recurring electronic payment, you can either instruct your bank at least three days before the next expected withdrawal, or let the billing company (the recipient) know you won’t authorize any more payments. If you decide to cancel through your bank, you'll need to confirm the cancellation in writing within two weeks of giving your verbal instructions.

Debit card transactions are harder to stop because they’re usually processed immediately. However, if you make a payment and contact your bank immediately to explain why you want to cancel, the bank might be able to help.

Here's how to save up to $700/year off your car insurance in minutes

When was the last time you compared car insurance rates? Chances are you’re seriously overpaying with your current policy.

It’s true. You could be paying way less for the same coverage. All you need to do is look for it.

And if you look through an online marketplace called SmartFinancial you could be getting rates as low as $22 a month — and saving yourself more than $700 a year.

It takes one minute to get quotes from multiple insurers, so you can see all the best rates side-by-side.

So if you haven’t checked car insurance rates in a while, see how much you can save with a new policy.

About the Author

Esther Trattner

Esther Trattner

Freelance Contributor

Esther was formerly a freelance contributor to MoneyWise.

What to Read Next

Best banks of 2022

The best banks offer competitive yields on deposits, low fees, excellent customer service and other perks to stand out in a crowded field.


The content provided on MoneyWise is information to help users become financially literate. It is neither tax nor legal advice, is not intended to be relied upon as a forecast, research or investment advice, and is not a recommendation, offer or solicitation to buy or sell any securities or to adopt any investment strategy. Tax, investment and all other decisions should be made, as appropriate, only with guidance from a qualified professional. We make no representation or warranty of any kind, either express or implied, with respect to the data provided, the timeliness thereof, the results to be obtained by the use thereof or any other matter.