By  Updated on Wed Jul 30, 2014

How Long Does It Take for Checks to Clear at Banks and Credit Unions?

How Long Does It Take for Checks to Clear at Banks and Credit Unions?

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Did you know that funds from a deposited check is not actually yours until it has cleared at the bank? You may mistakenly believe that the bank puts the funds into your account almost immediately after you deposit the check — but it’s merely the first step.For this reason, a banking customer must have a good idea of how long it takes for a check to clear at a bank or credit union. This useful information will help you plan ahead, so you’re not late in paying bills or handling other timely financial tasks.

Account Balance vs. Available Balance

At most banks and credit unions, deposited funds will become available for immediate withdrawal or use, by the first business day.

Remember, just because an amount has posted to your account does not mean that the entire amount is accessible to you right away. You’ll notice something called the available balance and the account balance. The account balance is the actual balance on the account at the start of the business day. It’s the balance that is printed on bank statements.

The available balance is the amount of money that is available for immediate withdrawal or other type of use.

Verifying funds

Although the deposit fund will post to your account when it is received by your bank, it must first go through a specific process before your bank can verify the funds.

There is no set time frame for how long it takes a check to clear at banks or credit unions. The actual transaction is a multi-step process, heavily dependent on the paying institution, with several factors (see below) that could possibly delay your bank from receiving the funds. For this reason, the exact time it’ll take to clear a check cannot be determined until the check is submitted for payment of funds.

Delays in processing funds

Generally if there are no issues, your credit union should receive the funds within five business days, at which time the check will clear. However, if your credit union is notified from the paying institution that the check cannot be cleared, the check will be placed on hold and be resubmitted within another two to three business days, which would delay the whole process.

Reasons for a delay

There are various issues that may cause this delay will be a stop payment on the check:

  • Account is frozen
  • Account is blocked
  • Account is closed
  • Account did not have sufficient funds

Until the check is actually submitted, it will be unclear to the customer why the funds have been put on hold.

To get the latest information on when the check will clear, you should review your account statement or call your bank.

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