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One of the most frustrating aspects of banking is depositing a check and then waiting to see when it will clear. While you may be able to see the check amount in your account balance, it will be marked as unavailable until it clears. But, how long does it take for a check to clear?
Here we’ll delve into this topic in more detail, so you’ll have a clear understanding.
How Long Does a Check Take to Clear?
A check clearing means that the funds have been moved from the payer’s bank to your bank, which means that you will then have access to the funds. Unfortunately, this process does take time and it is not instantaneous.
More confusingly, the length of time needed for a check to clear will depend on several things including if the account is in good standing, if the written check is for two or more names and how long the account has been active with the bank.
A good rule of thumb is that a check will typically take two business days to clear. Most banks usually make the first $200 of the check amount available the following business day.
Business days are weekdays that are not bank holidays. The process begins on the business day that the check is received, but it needs to be before the financial institutions cut off time. This can vary from bank to bank, but when you deposit a check at a physical bank location, the cut off is 2 pm or later. If the check is deposited at an ATM or via another deposit method, the cut off time may be as early as noon.
So, if you deposit a check on Friday, the first $200 may be available for you on Monday, but you would need to wait until Tuesday for the check to officially clear.
What Depositing Methods Take Less Time for Check Clearing?
The quickest deposit methods for check clearing are depositing the check at a branch of your bank or credit union, or using the financial institution's mobile app. The cut off time for branch deposits cannot be earlier than two pm, but some financial institutions have a later cut off time. This means that your bank may start the check clearing process if you deposit before 3 or 4pm.
Typically, a bank's app's mobile check deposit feature operates on the same schedule as if you were visiting a branch. However, some banks are more flexible and allow for a later cut off. For example, Bank of America requires mobile check deposits to be completed by 9 pm ET or 8 pm PT for clearance the following business day.
What Types of Checks Take Less Time to Clear?
While the above timeframes apply to most checks, there are some exceptions. Although personal checks typically take two business days to clear, if the check is drawn on the same financial institution it may clear in one business day. So, if both you and the check issuer bank with Chase, the check amount may be available in full in your account the following business day.
This expedited clearance schedule is also usually available for cashier’s and government checks. However, the bank is only obliged to make funds available within one or two business days. So, if the check is for a large sum, over $5,525, there could be a delay and the funds may not be available after one business day.
Why is My Check on Hold?
There are a number of reasons why your check may be held by the bank. The most obvious is that there may be insufficient funds in the payer’s account, the payer’s account may also be blocked or closed. In this scenario, the check is usually resent back to the paying institution.
Some banks may also place a hold on deposits for new account holders. If you have little or no history with the bank, it may automatically place a hold on all check deposits. This type of delay can also apply if you have a negative history with your bank, such as frequent bounced checks or going into overdraft.
Another possible reason why a check may be on hold is that it was deposited via an ATM. In this case, the bank may need to verify and cross check the deposit before the bank will release the funds.
How Long Can It Be Delayed?
The delay can depend on the reasons for the hold, but generally a check can be held for up to seven business days. This is usually to give the bank time to perform the necessary verification, to ensure that they are able to release the funds into your account.
For example, if you deposit a check on Tuesday, you may need to wait for the check to clear until the Thursday of the following week.
But, if your bank or credit union does need to hold your check for an extended period, they should let you know. You can ask the teller or check your deposit receipt for an estimate of when the funds will be made available.
Banks and Credit Unions That Clear Checks Fast
Although the above timeframes apply to most financial institutions, there are some banks and credit unions that make funds available more quickly. In some cases, the funds may be available the following business day or even the same days, providing the check is not held for the reasons we covered above.
These banks and credit unions include:
- Bank of America: If the check is under $5,525, the funds may be available the following business day. The cut off times are branch closure, 8 pm for ATMs and 9 pm for mobile check deposit.
- Capital One 360: For checks up to $5,525, the funds are available the next business day. Cut off times are branch closing, and 9 pm ET for Capital One ATMs.
- Citi: If your check is up to $225, the funds are available the following business day with a cut-off time of 10.30 pm ET for all ATMs.
- Consumers Credit Union: This credit union offers same day availability if you deposit the check in branch during regular business hours. If you deposit the check via Consumer’s ATM, the first $225 will be available the following business day with the remainder clearing after seven business days.
- PNC Bank: For the first $100, there is same day availability with the remaining amount up to a cap of $50,000 being made available the following business day. The cut off is 10 pm ET for PNC Bank ATMs and mobile deposits, branch closing hours for an in person deposit and 3 pm ET for non PNC ATMs.
- Wells Fargo: For the first $400, there is same day availability if deposited at a branch or Wells Fargo ATM. However, the cut off times vary by branch.
Alternative Ways to Send Money to Someone
If you want to send money to someone and don’t want them to have to wait for a check to clear, or you don’t want to wait for funds from someone else, there are some alternative methods.
- Direct Deposit: If you’re waiting for a regular payment, direct deposit is one of the simplest and quickest payment methods. In fact, many banks allow access to the funds up to two days early if you receive regular direct deposits.
- Wire Transfers: Wire transfers are a good option for large sums, but may not be practical for smaller amounts as a transfer fee typically applies.
- P2P Transfers: Peer to peer payment apps are becoming increasingly popular and provide an inexpensive and quick transfer method. In many cases, you don’t even need to provide your bank details. The payer can simply send the funds to your app and you can then cash out into your bank account or use the money directly from the app.
Typically cashier’s checks are not subject to hold and the funds may be available within one business day.
A business day is a weekday that is not a bank holiday or public holiday.
No checks will not be cleared on a Saturday as this is not classified as a business day.
No checks will not be cleared on bank holidays, they will be processed on the following business day.