When someone cuts you a check, you might want that money to be available as soon as you deposit it -- but banks need to verify every check's validity before they can release the funds. How long a check takes to clear depends on the bank. It usually takes about two business days for a deposited check to clear, but in some cases, it can take up to five days for funds to become available.
Find out how long it takes a check to clear depending on the financial institution, why a check might be on hold, and the fastest ways to access your funds.
How Long Does a Check Take To Clear at Major Banks and Retailers?
Here's a quick look at how long it takes for major banks and retailers to clear or cash checks:
|How Long It Takes for a Check To Clear|
|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 the 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 the 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 a 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|
|Ally Bank||Ally eCheck Deposits submitted before 7 p.m. Eastern time Monday through Friday will post that evening; funds available the next business day|
Why Your Checks Might Be on Hold
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.
The 1987 law that gives you rapid access to the first $200 of your deposit also delays clearance for deposits of more than $5,000, which it categorizes as large deposits. The length of time a check is held depends on the amount, type of check and institution, but two to seven days is typical.
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.
Varying Bank Policies
The amount of time a check takes to clear can vary 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.
History of Overdraft
How long it takes a check to clear is also dependent upon the account's overdraft history. If the account has repeatedly overdrawn during the previous six months, the financial institution may delay making the funds from that check available.
For the check to clear, the payer must have the funds available. As the payee, it is your responsibility to make sure the check is good for the amount. If you deposit a check and it is later found insufficient -- that is, the depositor's account balance is inadequate to cover it -- the bank can reverse the funds.
What Are the Fastest Ways To Access Funds From Checks?
If you need to access the funds from a check as soon as possible, you'll want to consider how long it takes for a check to be deposited through the methods that are available. Here are a few 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 -- 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 longtime customer and haven't had any deposit issues, your bank might reward you with shorter clearance times. If you have a history of being reliable, 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's eCheck Deposit service, for example, enables you to deposit checks electronically.
This article has been updated with additional reporting since its original publication.
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