Wondering when a check will be clear is a comprehensive impetus, particularly when the check is significant. And what if you sent that just after your check from work just got deposited?
When you deposit a check, neither you nor your bank know if the check is going to bounce. It’s wise to wait before spending the money, but how long is long enough—and what can you do to protect yourself from bad checks?
How Long Does it Take for a Check to Clear?
Checks typically take two to three business days to clear. Aside from the accessibility required by law, individual banks may make more funds available before checks actually clear.
-It’s your problem: You are always responsible for deposits you make into your account. Even if your bank lets you walk away with cash or transfer money out, you might have to replace that money later if the deposited check bounces.
-Your available balance: A check has not necessarily cleared just because the money is available in your account or appears on a receipt.
Again, federal law requires your bank to make the funds available to you within a certain amount of time, whether the funds actually arrived from the other bank or not.
When in Doubt
So what do you do about checks you’re suspicious of? The best advice is to avoid taking checks if you have any concerns about the payment (see below for tips and alternatives), but that’s not always an option.
30 days: When in doubt, wait for 30 days. Most problems will arise within that timeframe.
Checks from fake accounts and empty accounts should bounce within a few weeks, giving you time to avoid debts with your bank. If the check is from a foreign bank, wait even longer.
Are you 100 percent safe after the money hits your account or after 30 days? Not necessarily. As just one example, an account holder can claim that a check was written from her account fraudulently.
Even though the check cleared, your bank will return the funds to the rightful owner. You may need to figure out who scammed you and consult with an attorney about your options for recourse.
Why Your Check Might Take Longer To Clear
The following factors can affect the time it takes for a check to clear and how long you have to wait before you can access the deposited money:
1. Large Deposits
The 1987 law that gives you rapid access to the first $200 of your deposit also delays clearance for deposits larger than $5,000, which it categorizes as large deposits. If you deposit a check for more than this amount, your bank can hold it for some time.
The amount of time depends on the type of check and the institution, but two to seven days is typical.
2. Suspicious Transactions
Because deposits are held for bank verification purposes, if there’s something suspicious about your check, you might have to wait longer for your funds.
For example, if your check is dated six months or more in the past, it might warrant further scrutiny.
In addition, if you’re a new account holder, you might have deposit restrictions — particularly if you make large or repeated deposits — so the bank can identify if there is fraudulent activity involved.
3. Varying Bank Policies
The answer to the question, “How long does it take for a check to clear?” varies based on bank policy.
Most banks will credit funds to your account the same business day if you make your deposit before the daily cutoff time; however, you might not be able to withdraw the money immediately.
Cutoff times vary among banks. For example, funds for checks deposited at Capital One are credited the same day if you deposit them at a branch before 2 p.m. local time, and Chase offers same-day credits for deposits you make through QuickDeposit by 11 p.m. Eastern time.
Checks that you deposit from other banks take the same amount of time to process, but if you deposit an out-of-state check, it might take up to five days to clear.
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What’s the Fastest Way to Access Funds from Checks?
When you receive a check, you might want to access those funds as soon as possible. Fortunately, there are ways to ensure the speedy delivery of a check into your account.
Set Up Direct Deposit
Direct deposit is the most efficient way to receive a recurring check — such as your paycheck or Social Security benefit check — and it gives you the quickest access to your funds, as well.
When you set up a direct deposit, money gets transferred from another bank directly into your account. Your bank doesn’t have to verify the incoming funds again after the first deposit, and the money is typically available the same day.
Make a Mobile Deposit
Making a mobile deposit is another fast way to get your check to clear. Most major banks, including Chase, Wells Fargo, Bank of America, and Capital One, offer apps that enable you to take a picture of both sides of your check, enter relevant information, and send it to the bank.
Funds from mobile check deposits are often available the next business day.
Put Your Good Customer Status to Use
If you’re a long-time customer of a bank and haven’t had any deposit issues, your bank might reward you with shorter clearance times. If you’ve been a reliable customer, your bank might trust you enough to speed up the process.
Use an Online-Only Bank
If you have an account at an online-only bank, you can typically remotely upload checks via the bank’s app to make deposits, which is much faster than mailing in the check or wiring the funds.
Ally Bank, for example, offers an eCheck Deposit service that enables you to deposit checks electronically.
Deposit hold times for online banks are similar to traditional banks’ processing times. Ally Bank allows you to access up to $200 off any check the next business day, and you can even deposit $50,000 in a single day and as much as $250,000 every 30 days.
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