By  Updated on Thu Sep 4, 2014

Research: When to Expect Your Check Deposits to Become Available

Did you know that the funds from a deposited check are not actually yours until it’s been cleared by the bank? Many people mistakenly believe that banks add funds immediately into your account after the check has been deposited — but this is merely the first step. Find out more about the fund availability policy at America’s top 10 banks.

Research: When to Expect Your Check Deposits to Become Available

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Although the deposited amount of money will be posted to your account when it is received by the bank, additional time is needed for the verification process — from banks on both ends — before funds become available for withdrawal. At this time, you will see a discrepancy in the amount listed for your Account Balance and Available Balance. The Available Balance indicates the amount you have to use at your disposal and the Account Balance shows the total amount you have in your account — including funds that have yet to clear.

The amount of time it takes for a check to clear is difficult to determine. The actual transaction is a multi-step process, heavily dependent on the paying institution, with several factors that could possibly delay your bank from receiving the funds. For this reason, the exact time it will take to clear a check cannot be determined until the check is submitted for payment of funds.

Note that the time it takes for your funds to become available is not the same as the time it takes for checks to clear at the bank — people often confuse the two. The fund availability policy that your bank operates on is good for most consumers because it means that you do not have to wait for checks to fully clear before getting access to the deposited amount.

Expedited Funds Availability Act

The Expedited Funds Availability Act — commonly known as Regulation CC — was enacted in 1987 to standardize the hold periods on deposits, regulate the use of deposit holds at financial institutions across the U.S., and require banks to provide fund availability disclosures and notices to customers for when their funds will be available for withdrawal.

Regulation CC addresses restrictions on the maximum amount of time that the financial institution is allowed to hold your funds — which may be up to nine business days after the deposit has been made — but not how quickly your funds will become available to you.

How long it takes check funds to become available

The actual time it takes for your funds to become available depends on where you bank, the type of deposit, and even your account standing. Some banks reward loyal customers for their long-standing support, where the likeliness of same-day deposit availability increases for older accounts in good standing.

Depending on the type of deposited item, you might qualify for same-day fund availability, next-day fund availability, or even face a delay for an extended period of time. For low-risk deposits, the usual hold time on your money lasts no longer than the first business day after you deposit (and many are available on the same business day that the deposit is received).

This included deposits in cash, postal money orders, U.S. Treasury checks, cashier’s checks, certified checks and teller’s checks, Federal Reserve Bank and Federal Home checks, Loan Bank checks and government checks (federal, state, and local). Any check drawn from another account at the depository institution, or any check that amounts to less than $200 also qualifies for next-day fund availability. Electronic payments, such as wire transfers, ACH credits, and pre-authorized payments (e.g., direct deposits of Social Security benefits and payroll payments) usually qualify for same-day fund availability at many financial institutions.

Note that certain conditions must be met — checks must be payable to you and deposited in person with a banker, for instance. Some banks may have special deposit slips or envelopes required for next-day availability of your deposit. Make sure to check with your bank before making the deposit.

Cut-off time for check deposits

Another important factor to meet is the cut-off time. For the bank to consider making your funds available on the same day you deposit your check, you must make the deposit in person before the bank’s established cutoff time on a business day when it’s open. If the deposit is made after the cutoff time or on a day the bank is closed, your deposit will be made on the next business day that it’s open.

Here are the cut-off time for deposits at the 10 biggest banks in the U.S.:

Banks Standard Deposit ATM Deposit
Bank of America 2pm local time 2pm local time
Wells Fargo 2pm local time 9pm local time (8pm in Alaska)
Chase End of business day 11pm ET
Citibank End of business day 10:30pm ET
U.S. Bank 2pm local time 6pm local time (8pm local time at deposit envelope ATMs)
PNC Bank End of business day (no later than 10 pm) 10pm ET (3pm ET at non-PNC ATMs)
Capital One End of business day 9pm ET
TD Bank 8pm local time 8pm local time
BB&T End of business day 6pm local time
SunTrust Bank End of business day 12pm local time

Longer delays

Funds from certain check deposits deemed to be risky by the financial institution may be delayed for a longer period and put under various holds. For example, check deposits totaling more than $5,000 on any one day period and a check that’s redeposited after it’s been returned unpaid may cause the funds to be delayed. Also susceptible to special holds: if the account where the funds are being deposited to is less than 30 days old and accounts that were overdrawn repeatedly in the past six months.

In addition, if the bank has any reason to believe that the deposited check will not be paid, it will delay the the fund availability. And of course,  in emergency situations where there is a failure of computer or communications equipment, don’t expect the funds to become available immediately.

If all the funds from the deposit are not be made available by the first business day after you’ve made your deposit, your bank will generally notify you at the time you make the deposit and tell you when your funds will become available. Despite the initial holds, the deposited funds will be available no later than eight business days after you’ve made your deposit.

Clearing a check

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

Additionally, if either account is frozen, blocked, closed, or has insufficient funds, it may cause a delay or a stop payment on the check. Unfortunately, it will be unclear to the customer why the funds have been put on hold until the check is actually submitted. To get the latest information on when your check will clear, you should review your account statement or call your bank.

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Post a Comment

  • Theresa Kim

    What was the longest time you had to wait for your funds to become available? Share your stories with us!

  • tltx123

    Compass BBVA, 8 days for $10,000 deposit to business acct. Switched all banking to local credit union 3 years ago. Deposits up to $25,000 available same day at my credit union..

    • Theresa Kim

      That’s a great move you made for yourself!

      A Federal Reserve study from back in 2007 actually showed that check deposits clear at credit unions more quickly than at banks — having the highest number of same day availability among the different types of financial institutions in America.

      Still, it’s important to remember that fund availability can be delayed or placed on hold for various reasons — which can be very difficult to compare.