How to deposit a check in the USA: All the options

Have you been given a check and you’re not sure what to do with it? As well, you can turn that little piece of paper into spending money, either by collecting it, or depositing it in a bank account. Learn how to deposit a check safely and efficiently.

If you prefer to deposit the check in a bank account, you have a few options depending on your bank or Credit cooperative. You can take the more traditional route: Visit a bank or credit union branch, or stop by an ATM. Or if you prefer the fast and modern way, you can also use a mobile banking app on your smartphone or tablet to electronically deposit the check.

  • FAQ: Can I deposit part of my check and cash the rest?
  • Answer: Yes, as long as your bank or credit union credit he allows it. When you deposit a check, you can ask the teller to give you a portion of the amount in cash and to deposit the rest.

Depositing a check at a bank/credit union branch

When you deposit a check in person, they will ask you to endorse it, which means to sign it. It’s pretty simple: On the back of the check, you’ll find two gray lines with a note that says something like “endorsement here.” Sign the check on the top line once you have arrived at the bank.

To complete the transaction, the cashier will make sure the check is written correctly, and may ask to see your identification. You’ll also need to provide the account number or account information you want to deposit the check into.

Keep reading: How to write a Wells Fargo check

The entire transaction shouldn’t take more than a few minutes, but you’ll need to complete it during banking hours, which often exclude evenings and weekends. On the other hand, you may have to wait a bit at the bank, sometimes they fill up! So we recommend that you plan your visit in advance.

Usually once the transaction is complete, you will have to wait up to two business days for the funds to be available in your account. All or part of the check, up to $200, may be “advanced” to be available the next business day.

  • FAQ: Why does the bank put deposits on hold?
  • Answer: A deposit hold is a period of time, usually around two business days, during which the bank holds the funds you deposited by check. This delay may seem unnecessary, but it can actually be of great help. How? Because prevents you from spending the money and then having to pay it back in the event the check turns out to be fraudulent or has to be returned.

Depositing a check at an ATM

Depending on your bank or credit union, you may be able to deposit your check at an ATM. Just like when you visit a branch, You will need to start by endorsing the back of the check.

You can then use your bank-issued debit card to access your account information, follow the check deposit prompts, and place the check directly into the designated slot.

Unlike visiting a bank branch, you can deposit a check at any ATM at any time, as long as the ATM accepts checks. However, just like when you visit a branch, you may have to wait up to two business days before you have access to all the funds, depending on the amount of the check. In fact, it can take even longer if you deposit the check at an ATM at a bank other than your own.

For this reason, when depositing checks we recommend that you always go to your bank’s ATM. What’s more, staying in your bank’s network is also a better option because you save money on ATM fees.

Depositing a check with a mobile device

If you have a smartphone or tablet, and your bank offers the option, you can deposit a check using their mobile banking app, almost anytime, anywhere. Get started by logging into the app, locating the deposit option, and choosing which account you want to deposit the check into.

They will probably ask you to take a photo of both sides of the check. If you’re not successful using the camera right away, helpful hints may appear on the screen, and in some cases you may even be able to access help via chat. Now, for you to have a better experience, we give you the following tips:

  • Take the photo in a well-lit area.
  • Place the check on a contrasting (dark) surface.
  • Make sure all four corners of the check can be seen clearly.
  • Once you’ve taken the photos, be sure to follow the additional instructions to complete the deposit. Then review your account activity to verify that the deposited check appears.

Now, banks may have different timeframes for processing mobile deposits, and some may be completed as quickly as one business day. But even if the funds from your check deposit are available immediately, you’ll want to keep the actual paper check for 30 days in case there are any problems with processing. After this period, some banks recommend destroying the check.

What you need to deposit a check

Depositing a check is as simple as going to the bank and handing the check to a teller, or taking a photo; however, as you have already seen, there are some additional steps you need to take first.

Endorsement

In most cases you must endorse a check by signing your name on the back of the check. Technically, doing so gives your bank (or whoever has the endorsed check) the right to collect the funds, so don’t do it until you’re sure the check will make it to the bank.

For added security, you can use a “restricted” endorsement, which says that money can only be deposited into the account you specify. It’s a smart move in case the check is lost or stolen. To restrict the endorsement, sign your name and write “For deposit to account ### only” (use your account number instead of pound signs).

deposit slips

You may be required to complete a deposit slip when you deposit a paper check. Deposit slips provide the information a bank employee needs to deposit money into your account, and it includes, in addition to the account number, details such as the amount you are depositing and others.

ID

If you make a deposit in person, please bring valid identification, such as a driver’s license, passport, or other government-issued identification.

How can I verify that the check is legitimate?

We strongly recommend that before attempting to deposit a check you first verify that it is legitimate and has funds.

If the person or company that wrote the check doesn’t have enough money to cover the payment, your bank may charge you fees, whether or not it was your fault.

If you continually deposit bad checks, your bank might even close your account.. Whenever you have doubts about a check, contact the bank that appears in the banking information of the same and verifies that it is legitimate and that it will not bounce.

Where not to deposit a check

Depositing funds directly with your bank or credit union is the safest and least expensive option.. However, you may be tempted to cash the check at more “convenient” places, such as payday loan stores or check cashing stores. Before doing so, evaluate the rates, as you may end up paying a high price. Even supermarkets charge fees, which can add up to a significant proportion of small checks.

If you don’t have a bank or credit union account, you need to open one now! This will save you time and money. However, some people cannot or simply do not want to have a bank account. If you are one of them, a prepaid card could be a good alternative. In fact, some cards allow you to make mobile check deposits to add to the card balance, which in turn allows you to store the money securely. Others have associations with retail stores, so you can take those checks to certain stores to add them to your account.

In conclusion…

Regardless of how you choose to deposit your check, be sure to do so as soon as possible. There’s no hard and fast rule about when checks expire, but many banks won’t accept a check that’s more than six months old. Also, the longer you keep a check, the more likely it is to be lost or stolen.

For payments you receive regularly, such as a paycheck or other regular check disbursements, consider setting up direct deposit. This paperless option automatically deposits your payments into your account, freeing you from having to deposit checks yourself. And as a bonus, many banks make deposited payroll funds immediately available via direct deposit.

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