If you thought that being a responsible banking consumer exempts you from all fees, you are in for a surprise. There are many fees deemed unfair by customers but none other is quite as infamous as the deposited item returned or cashed check returned fee. It is a fee that you can be charged at absolutely no fault to you — and it’s not cheap either.

Deposited item returned fee image

Deposited item returned fee

When someone gives you and they don’t have the funds to cover it, the check will bounce and be returned to you, the depositor. Although this situation is at no fault to the depositor, as it is impossible to know how much the check writer has in their bank account. So unfortunately, the depositor will be charged a deposited item returned fee.

It may be returned by the bank it was drawn on for various reasons, including, but not limited to, non-sufficient funds, stop payment and closed account.

If any funds from the returned deposited item were made available to you before the check was cleared at the bank, the bank reserves the right to debit your account for that amount. This is because the bank holds the last person that endorses a check responsible for the check.

This fee isn’t as high as what the bad check writer will pay — which could be an overdraft or non-sufficient funds fee. Currently, this fee is at an average of $35.20 at the top 10 banks in America.

Soon after you have you been charged with a deposited item returned fee, your bank will send you back the returned deposited item along with a notice, which will include what you were charged.

In these situations, the check depositor is victimized in two ways — not getting the funds they are owed from the check writer and getting hit with a fee from the bank.

Deposited item returned fee compared

According to a September banking analysis by MyBankTracker.com, the average domestic returned deposit fee charged is $12.85, and $19.33 for a foreign returned deposit fee at the 10 largest banks in America.

The highest fee of $40 is charged by SunTrust Bank while the lowest fee of $10 was charged by Capital One. Most banks do not distinguish between domestic and international checks that are deposited and returned unpaid. See what your bank charges in the table below.

BankDomestic Returned Deposit FeeForeign Returned Deposit Fee
Bank of America$12$15
Wells Fargo$12$15
U.S. Bank$19$25
PNC Bank$12$12
Capital One$10$10
TD Bank$15$15

What you can do to avoid this fee

Before you’re unfairly hit with a deposited item returned fee, the most logical thing you can do ahead of time is to contact the check writer and ask if they have the funds to cover the check they wrote to you — especially if you have doubts that the check will clear.

If you were already hit with a fee, you can try calling your bank. Some banks may be willing to waive the fee for you as long as you are in good standing with them. For example, if you’re a customer whose deposited checks are always being returned, they most likely won’t help you out and waive that fee for you.

Unfortunately, most banks won’t be able to tell you if a check writer has enough money in their account to clear your check. Only the issuer of the check can provide that information, so it is recommended that you contact the issuer of the check about the funds availability before depositing the check.

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  • Theresa Kim

    What is the most unfair fee you’ve been charged in your life? Share your answers here.

    • Raf Callas

      Multiple overdraft fees in a single day!

      • Theresa Kim

        Thanks for sharing!

        Given that overdraft fees is one of the most expensive fees you can incur at a bank, getting hit with a couple of them in a given day can bring up the fee to a $100+ in no time!

        What I find to be especially upsetting is the fact that banks may pay checks in descending order — from the biggest to the smallest check — rather than in chronological order.

        So if you wrote out a check for $5, $50, $10 and $35, and have $50 in your bank account, your bank will pay the $50 (largest check) first, causing the other 3 checks ($5, $10, $35) to overdraft. Ultimately, you will incur THREE overdraft fees instead of ONE.