Where you bank is a big factor when it comes to how long you must wait for a check to clear. Check clearing times at the top banks are not all the same, therefore, it is wise to understand the regulations put into place with the financial institution where you hold your money.
Understanding how long it will take for a check to clear once you deposit the funds can help you properly manage your money. While mobile deposits have made the depositing process much more convenient, you still have to wait for the funds to clear, which can be frustrating, confusing and stressful.
It’s easy to advise people not to deposit checks too close to when bills are due, but oftentimes it is not by choice — people sometimes get paid late, and in general, are living paycheck to paycheck. Being late on bills may incur late fees, and if payments from your account bounce, you will get charged expensive overdraft fees from your bank.
Available Funds vs. Account Balance
There are two different forms of verification that indicate your funds are available in your account. The first is your available account balance, which is how much you have to use at your disposal. The other is your actual account balance — the total amount you have in your account, including funds that have yet to clear. While your account balance may represent a higher number than the available balance, think of your available balance as a true indicator of the amount of money you can spend.
For anyone who actively deposits checks into their bank account, it is crucial to know check clearing times, especially if you manage more than one bank account. Compare the times it takes a check to clear at the top 10 banks to get an idea of when your deposited funds will be available.
How long it takes for funds from a check to be made available
If you took a peek at the account agreements from all the nation’s biggest banks, they say that it is policy to make funds from all check deposits available on the first business day after the deposit is received. From firsthand experiences, you’ll know that it isn’t always the case. The reality is that it is very hard to determine exactly when a check will clear fully.
When you deposit checks through a bank teller, the teller can immediately tell you how long the bank will place a hold on your check deposit.
But, while you wait for check funds to clear, each of the banks make an effort to provide at least some access to the check funds. This courtesy is part of each bank’s “fund availability policy.” The following table shows the funds availability policy for the top 10 banks (you may also want to consider the different deposit cut-off times):
Bank When funds become available (UPDATED 3/20/15):
Bank of America The first $200 of the check amount is available for cash withdrawal no later than one business day after the deposit.
Wells Fargo The first $200 of your deposit is available on the first or second business day after the deposit.
Chase At least the first $200 of the check deposit will be available on the first business day after the day of your deposit.
Citibank The first $200 of your total deposits will be available immediately on the business day of the deposit. Deposits of $5,000 or less usually clear within 3 business days. Deposits of more than $5,000 usually take 4 business days to clear.
U.S. Bank The first $200 of the total check deposits will be available no later than the first business day after the deposit, usually available immediately.
Capital One The first $200 of your deposit will be available on the first business day.
PNC Bank The first $100 is available on the evening of the day of the deposit. An additional $100 is available on the first business day after the day of the deposit.
TD Bank The first $100 is available on on the same day of the deposit. An additional $100 becomes available no later than the first business day after your deposit.
BB&T The first $200 of your deposit may be available on the first business day after the day of your deposit.
SunTrust The first $200 of each day’s total deposits will be available on the first business day after the day of the deposit. Additionally, up to $400 of a deposit of local checks is available at 5pm and after on the 2nd business day after the deposit. The remaining funds of the deposit of local checks will be available on the 3rd business day following the deposit.
- Business days include Monday through Friday, excluding holidays.
- Some banks reward long-time customers for their loyal support. Citibank, for instance, allows for an increased same-day deposit availability depending on the age of the account, as noted from a representative by the name of Tejay via live chat, who wrote, “The same day deposit availability increases as the accounts gets older and with good banking relationship of the client.”
- New accounts are subject to different regulations. It takes many banks an additional day for checks to clear if an account where the funds are being deposited is less than 30 days old.
How long does it take for a cashier’s check to clear?
While the majority of banks make the funds from a cashier’s check available to you the next business day, the funds are still at risk for being rescinded. This happens in the instance that you deposit a counterfeit cashier’s check.
There is an ongoing scam in which victims are given a counterfeit cashier’s check to deposit. It may take weeks for the bank to determine that it is fake — and by this time the victim has most likely already spent the funds. When this happens, the victim is unfortunately liable for the money spent, even if it was made available to the account from the bank.
Why is an overdraft fee charged when a deposit was made on time?
You may deposit a check in the hopes to avoid an overdraft fee, but your efforts may be in vain. If you are on the cusp of being charged an overdraft fee, your best bet is to deposit cash, not a check.
As noted, it may take at least a few days for the funds from a check to be available for you to use when deposited into your account. Banks only refer to the amount of funds you have available when processing overdraft fees. Therefore, you need to ensure that the funds will be available before your account reaches a negative balance. If you do not deposit the funds with an adequate amount of time for your bank to fully verify the amount, you may be hit with overdraft fees.
Choose the right bank for your financial needs.
Look for a bank that clears checks in a short amount of time if you regularly deposit and write checks. Also, choose a bank that you feel has a reputation that you can trust.
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For instance, MyBankTracker.com user basstracker72, expressed frustration about how Citizens Bank failed to deposit funds into the correct account, “Doing whatever it takes to stick it to the customer. I deposit a tenant’s rent check to my line of credit, they deduct it from a random checking account when it bounces.”
If you have more than one account with the same bank and deposit a check, or multiple checks, make sure that all funds are being deposited to the right accounts, as banks do make errors. Confirm with a teller or check your online statements.
In your research to find the perfect bank, make sure you find one that will accommodate your needs. For instance, if you are always on the go and need funds to be available soon after you receive checks, choose a bank with more flexible hold times, such as one that makes funds available through mobile deposit the next business day.
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