When someone cuts you a check, you might want that money to be available as soon as possible after you deposit it — but banks need to verify every check’s validity before they can release the funds. Fortunately, advancements in technology have reduced check-clearing periods to a few business days, or even less in some cases. And the Expedited Funds Availability Act of 1987 requires that the first $200 of a deposit be made available to depositors by the next day.
Here’s a quick look at how long it takes for major banks and retailers to clear or cash checks:
|How Long It Takes To Clear or Cash a Check|
|Bank or Retailer||Time To Clear or Cash a Check|
|Chase||Processed on same business day if received before 11 p.m. Eastern time through QuickDeposit; funds available for withdrawal by second business day after day of deposit|
|Bank of America||Same-day credit if deposit is made by 9 p.m. Eastern time or 8 p.m. Pacific time or Mountain time; funds generally available next business day|
|Wells Fargo||Cutoff time varies, but funds generally credit to account same day if check is deposited on a business day|
|Citibank||Funds available immediately if check is deposited via direct deposit|
|U.S. Bank||Cutoff time is 9 p.m. Central time Monday through Friday; after that or on nonbusiness days or holidays, checks are processed the following business day|
|TD Bank||Cutoff time is 8 p.m. Eastern time on a business day; funds generally credited on the following business day when you make a mobile deposit|
|PNC Bank||Funds credited same evening if deposit is made before cutoff time on a business day|
|HSBC||Checks will be deposited the same day when submitted through HSBC Mobile Check Deposit before 10 p.m. Eastern time on a business day|
|BB&T||Mobile check deposits are generally available the next business day; those submitted on weekends, bank holidays or after 8 p.m. Eastern time on weekdays will be processed the following business day|
|Capital One||Funds credited same business day if check is deposited at branch before 2 p.m. local time; cutoff time for funds deposited at an ATM is 9 p.m. Eastern time|
|Walmart||Cash checks and money orders up to $5,000; receive funds in cash or loaded on Walmart MoneyCard|
|Kmart||Can get cash instantly for payroll, tax refund and government checks up to $2,000 and two-party personal checks up to $500|
|Kroger||Can get your money immediately; must have a current, government-issued ID|
Related: 7 Stores That Cash Checks
Why Your Check Might Take Longer To Clear
The following factors can affect the time it takes for a check to clear and how long you have to wait before you can access the deposited money:
1. Large Deposits
The 1987 law that gives you rapid access to the first $200 of your deposit also delays clearance for deposits larger than $5,000, which it categorizes as large deposits. If you deposit a check for more than this amount, your bank can hold it for some time. The amount of time depends on the type of check and the institution, but two to seven days is typical.
2. Suspicious Transactions
Because deposits are held for bank verification purposes, if there’s something suspicious about your check, you might have to wait longer for your funds. For example, if your check is dated six months or more in the past, it might warrant further scrutiny. In addition, if you’re a new account holder, you might have deposit restrictions — particularly if you make large or repeated deposits — so the bank can identify if there is fraudulent activity involved.
3. Varying Bank Policies
The answer to the question, “How long does it take for a check to clear?” varies based on bank policy. Most banks will credit funds to your account the same business day if you make your deposit before the daily cutoff time; however, you might not be able to withdraw the money immediately.
Cutoff times vary among banks. For example, funds for checks deposited at Capital One are credited the same day if you deposit them at a branch before 2 p.m. local time, and Chase offers same-day credits for deposits you make through QuickDeposit by 11 p.m. Eastern time. Checks that you deposit from other banks take the same amount of time to process, but if you deposit an out-of-state check, it might take up to five days to clear.
Also See: An Illustrated Guide To Reading a Check
What’s the Fastest Way To Access Funds From Checks?
When you receive a check, you might want to access those funds as soon as possible. Fortunately, there are ways to ensure the speedy delivery of a check into your account.
Set Up Direct Deposit
Direct deposit is the most efficient way to receive a recurring check — such as your paycheck or Social Security benefit check — and it gives you the quickest access to your funds, as well. When you set up a direct deposit, money gets transferred from another bank directly into your account. Your bank doesn’t have to verify the incoming funds again after the first deposit, and the money is typically available the same day.
Make a Mobile Deposit
Making a mobile deposit is another fast way to get your check to clear. Most major banks, including Chase, Wells Fargo, Bank of America and Capital One, offer apps that enable you to take a picture of both sides of your check, enter relevant information, and send it to the bank. Funds from mobile check deposits are often available the next business day.
Put Your Good Customer Status to Use
If you’re a long-time customer of a bank and haven’t had any deposit issues, your bank might reward you with shorter clearance times. If you’ve been a reliable customer, your bank might trust you enough to speed up the process.
Use an Online-Only Bank
If you have an account at an online-only bank, you can typically remotely upload checks via the bank’s app to make deposits, which is much faster than mailing in the check or wiring the funds. Ally Bank, for example, offers an eCheck Deposit service that enables you to deposit checks electronically. Deposit hold times for online banks are similar to traditional banks’ processing times. Ally Bank allows you to access up to $200 of any check the next business day, and you can even deposit $50,000 in a single day and as much as $250,000 every 30 days.
Check Out: How To Write a Check in 6 Easy Steps
Current Balance vs. Available Balance Explained
A deposit receipt doesn’t necessarily mean you have free, immediate access to that money. Most banks will credit your deposit the same day to your actual balance, which indicates your total account balance. Those funds will not be available, however, until the bank actually clears that money — so if you get a check for $1,000, you might only have immediate access to $200. When the rest of the $800 is cleared, then your current balance and available balance will be the same.
Keep reading to learn about the different types of deposit accounts that are available.
Erika Giovanetti contributed to the reporting for this article.
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