How to Stop a Bank Check

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It’s happened to most of us at one time or another: You’ve written a check and realize that you have to stop payment on it before it’s cashed, or the check has been lost or stolen. While stopping payment on a check is easy enough to do as long as the check has not yet been cashed, it will usually cost you a fee. Be sure you want to stop payment on a check before following the steps below to cancel it.

Things You'll Need

  • Check number
  • Bank account number
  • Telephone
  • PC
  • Internet connection

Call your bank. Have your check number and account number ready when you ask them to stop payment on it. Banks in the U.S. generally charge a fee to do this, usually in the $20 to $30 range; that fee can vary from state to state. However, some banks will waive the fee if a check was lost or stolen, and will only charge if the stop payment is for other reasons. Familiarize yourself with your bank’s policies.

Go online. If you use your bank’s online system, it may be possible to stop payment on a check online without having to make a phone call. If so, keep in mind the stop-payment fees would still apply.

Call the person, organization or business to whom the check was written. If the check has already been cashed, there is not much a bank can do. If it’s possible to do so, you can call the party to whom the check was written to see if your money can be returned that way.

Tips & Warnings

  • Use checks only when absolutely necessary. There are many electronic ways to make payments these days, including through your bank’s website and sites like Pay Pal (
  • Use your bank’s online banking system. It’s easier to keep track of payments you make this way and see which payments have been processed and which have not. Sometimes there is a grace period after you have submitted a payment to an organization through online banking to when that organization will receive that payment. This will allow you to cancel payment before it’s made with no penalty charge.

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