What Is a Stop Payment? And How Much Does It Cost?

Written by Jennifer PachecoUpdated: 30th Mar 2022
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As humans, we’re not perfect. Sometimes, we make out a check for the wrong amount. Other times, we purchase the wrong item or try to process a payment when the funds are not entirely there.

How do we stop the cashing of a check or processing a payment? We initiate a stop payment through our financial institution, whether it be our online bank, credit union, or other financial institution.

What Is a Stop Payment?

Simply put, a stop payment is a formal request you make to stop a check or payment that has not yet been processed. This works with uncashed checks and ACH paymentsthat have not been withdrawn from your bank account yet. Recurring bills fall into this category.

Outside of the two examples provided above, writing a check for the wrong amount and stopping a processing payment that hasn’t gone through yet, there are other reasons to initiate a stop payment. Examples include having the wrong information present on a check, mailing a check to the wrong address, reporting a lost or stolen check, having insufficient funds in your bank account, and disputing a purchase.

How a Stop Payment Order Works

To initiate a stop payment order, you must contact your banking institution and provide specific information about the check or ACH payment. Relevant information consists of the check or confirmation number, the date it was made out or is supposed to be taken from your account, the dollar amount, and the institution, business, or vendor named to take the funds.

If the payment hasn’t been processed, the bank will take that information, find the check, and flag it so that the funds will not be taken from your account.

How Much Do Stop Orders Cost?

The cost to process a stop order will vary depending on the banking institution you’re a member of. Typically, all fees will range from $20 to $30.

Stop Payment Fees by Bank

BankStop Payment Fee
Ally Bank$15.00
Bank of America$30.00
Capital One$35.00
Chase$30.00
Citibank$30.00
Fifth Third Bank$33.00
HSBC$30.00
PNC$33.00
TD Bank$30.00
Wells Fargo$31.00

Do Stop Payment Orders Always Work?

Stop payment orders must be placed before any check or payment is cleared from your account. Once cleared, you cannot get the funds back with a stop payment order.

Even still, some stop payment orders expire after a certain amount of time. If you don’t remember to or choose to renew the stop payment order, the funds may later be deducted from your bank account after expiration. This is not the case with ACH payments, as they are permanent.

Can You Stop Payment on Cashier’s Checks and Money Orders?

Payments on cashier’s checksand money orders are entirely different from personal checks, and you cannot ask for a stop payment order on either of them. Cashier’s checks and money orders require the funds to be in your account and are automatically withdrawn once the paperwork is filed and signed. Both act as an immediate withdrawal; once the bank teller or representative processes the cashier’s check or money order in front of you, the transaction cannot be stopped.

If you wish to cancel a cashier’s check or money order, you may do so through the authorized representative at your banking institution. This may take approximately 90 days, but it will grant you a permanent refund of the money.

Stop payment orders are 100% legal. Most financial institutions offer them an option to protect the consumer in certain circumstances.

We suggest you do not use a stop payment order to attempt to avoid payment. If you owe money or are responsible for paying bills and expenses, additional fees may follow your account if the balance is not paid on time.

Bottom Line: Stop Payment Orders

Stop payment orders were created on the consumer’s behalf as a last resort to stop a payment before it goes through. Banking institutions wanted to grant confidence to their customers just in case a payment process went awry.

We highly suggest only using a stop payment order when necessary to hold funds long enough to switch over payment methods or figure out another appropriate solution. Please ask your banking institution if you have any further questions on stop payment orders to understand their exact process, rules, and regulations.

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Jennifer Pacheco

Jennifer Pacheco attended the University of Dartmouth, Massachusetts where she earned her degree in English Writing & Editorial Work. She is a seasoned personal finance writer with over 5 years of professional work under her belt, and supplies easy-to-read information that’s educational, engaging, and conversational to help you make the most of your money.