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How do you deposit a check at a bank?

The most common method is to deposit your check in person at the bank. Your funds may be available quicker this way, and that could be quite important if you're in need of cash.

The first thing you have to do is endorse the check. Turn it over, and on the back you’ll see a notation that reads "endorse here." Sign the check on the top line once you arrive at the bank.

You may also need to fill out a deposit slip and hand it over to the teller along with the check. You'll usually find a stack of slips inside the bank and need to fill out your personal information, the amount you're depositing and your bank account number.

In order for the funds to hit your account, the bank teller will inspect the check to ensure everything has been written correctly. They will ask you to provide your account number and possibly your debit card to enter your PIN.

It should only take a few minutes to complete the transaction, but you can only deposit a check at a bank during banking hours (most aren't open 24/7), so it can be a bit of an inconvenience to do it this way.

Checks can take a few business days to clear.

You can also deposit a check at a credit union. If yours is part of a larger network, you should be able to deposit a check at any credit union that’s within the network.

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Can you deposit checks at an ATM?

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Many ATMs are equipped to accept checks, though it depends on your bank.

The process starts exactly the same: You must first endorse the check. From here, insert your bank card into the ATM and follow the on-screen prompts to deposit the check. Submit the check for processing when the designated slot opens.

The difference between using an ATM and a bank teller is that you can deposit a check at an ATM at all hours, assuming it accepts checks.

Once you have deposited the check, it will usually take up to two business days for the funds to clear. If it’s a particularly large deposit, the bank may put a hold on a portion of the funds for a few business days more.

However, the process may take a bit longer if you deposit a check at an ATM your bank doesn’t own. That could also cost you extra ATM fees.

Where can I deposit a check?

If you’re just looking to deposit a check in your own account, a growing number of banks allow you to do so through their smartphone app.

The process is fairly straightforward. Log in to your app and choose the deposit option and the account you want the check to go into.

The app will then ask you to take a photo of the front and the back of the check. You will likely have to give the app permission to access the camera on your phone. There will probably be a few useful hints to help you on the way if you’re experiencing any difficulties with the camera.

Here are some tips:

  • Use a well-lit area.
  • Place the check on a dark surface when taking the photo.
  • Capture all corners of the check within the given frame.
  • Make sure you have endorsed the check before taking the photo.

Follow the on-screen instructions to complete the check deposit when you've taken both photos. If everything has gone through, you should see the deposit in your account activity.

Banks process mobile check deposits differently; some may process them within the hour while others may take a few business days.

But even if the funds appear in your account straight away, it's best that you don't throw away the paper check for one month just in case any issues arise.


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Alex Denholm Freelance Contributor

Alex Denholm was a freelance contributor to Moneywise.

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