How Long Does It Take for a Check to Clear?

How Long Does It Take for a Check to Clear? article image.

While a check may clear on the same day it's deposited, in many cases the full amount will be available in two business days or more.

Some aspects of check deposits are federally regulated, while others depend on the financial institution where it originated and the institution where it's deposited. Factors that affect the availability of funds include the size of the deposited check, the type of check, the issuer, how you deposit it and your particular bank or credit union's policies.

Here's how to determine the likely date when a check you deposit will clear.

How Long Does It Take Check Funds to Become Available?

Federal law requires financial institutions to make the first $225 of a larger deposit available the next business day. A typical timeline is for a bank to make that $225 available the next business day, and the rest on the following business day. That means if you deposit a check on a Friday, you can expect $225 of the funds to be available in your bank account on Monday and the rest on Tuesday. Some banks have other policies: TD Bank, for instance, says that, generally, $100 worth of funds will be available immediately, and the rest on the next business day.

The fastest way to have access to check funds is to deposit the check in person at a bank or credit union branch. That ensures the deposit is made before the bank's cut-off time, which speeds up the process. Mobile check deposits and those made at ATMs after hours typically take longer to clear.

The full amount of your check may clear as soon as the next business day if you deposit it at the same bank where it originated, if it's a certified check or if it was issued by the government. Depending on your bank and its account features, you may be able to set email, text or mobile app alerts so the bank will notify you as soon as the money is available.

Why Your Check May Take Longer to Clear

In some circumstances, your bank can hold check funds beyond the second business day after the deposit, meaning you must wait longer to access the money. This may happen if:

  • You deposit more than $5,525 in one day
  • You recently opened your bank account
  • You regularly overdraw the account
  • The bank experiences a technical issue
  • You make the deposit at an ATM your bank does not own
  • The bank has cause to believe it won't be able to collect the check funds from the original bank

These holds are typically temporary, though the length of time a bank will hold your check depends on the company. Chase, for example, says it can hold your funds up to the seventh business day after the deposit. Capital One says its holds can last up to four or five days.

It's best to check with your bank about its specific policies, especially if you need access to the funds right away or within a certain period of time. You can find the details on deposit timelines in the "Account Disclosures" or "Deposit Account Agreement" documents associated with your account.

Ways to Get Money Faster

There are several strategies that can shorten the typical check-clearing timeline.

If you have access to direct deposit at your workplace, enrolling will generally give you access to your paycheck sooner. By law, financial institutions must clear direct-deposited funds the next business day after they're received from your workplace. But banks and credit unions often clear direct-deposit funds right away.

Peer-to-peer payment services like Zelle, Venmo and Cash App may also offer access to quicker transfers. Instead of cashing a check and waiting for the funds to clear, you may use an app to receive funds, then transfer those to your account. Since Zelle directly connects several different banks, if you and the other user enroll in the service, you may be able to transfer money to each other instantly for free even if you work with separate banks.

Both Venmo and Cash App say transfers typically take one to three business days. But for a fee of 1.5% of the transfer amount—up to a maximum of $15, in Venmo's case—you can have access to the money immediately.

How to Prepare for a Check Deposit

Particularly when you need to use a check's funds right away, it's crucial to know how soon the check will clear. That starts with understanding your bank's requirements by law, then checking directly with the bank about its specific policies. Just as important, make sure you choose a deposit method and time frame that will make your money available as soon as you need it.

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