Not all methods of getting paid are the same. Taking a paper check to the bank can be time-consuming, not to mention you also have to wait a few days for it to clear before withdrawing funds. Direct deposit is a popular option that simplifies the process of getting paid.
With direct deposit, you can schedule payments to be added to your bank account automatically. Depending on where you maintain a checking and savings account, it may be possible to get paid up to two days early with direct deposit. Plus there’s no running to a bank branch or ATM to deposit an old-school paper check.
Understanding the benefits of direct deposit can help you decide if it’s worth taking advantage of this banking feature. Read on to get the full story, including:
• What is direct deposit?
• What are the benefits of direct deposit?
• Are there any disadvantages to direct deposit?
• How can you set up direct deposit?
What Is Direct Deposit?
What is a direct deposit? In simple terms, direct deposit is a service that allows money to be deposited directly into bank accounts, without requiring a paper check. You may be eligible to set up direct deposit of paychecks and other payments, including:
• Federal and state tax refunds
• Government benefits, such as Social Security payments
• Court-ordered child support payments (when garnished from the payer’s wages)
• Travel and expense reimbursements from your employer
• Pension plan benefit payments
• Annuity payments
• Dividend payments from stocks or other investments
You may not have access to direct deposit if your employer doesn’t offer it or if you don’t receive any of the other types of payments listed above. It’s also possible to miss out on the benefits of direct deposit if you don’t have a bank account and rely on alternative banking products and services, such as prepaid debit cards, to pay bills and cover expenses.
Get up to $250 towards your holiday shopping.
Open a SoFi Checking and Savings Account with direct deposit and get up to a $250 cash bonus. Plus, get up to 4.60% APY on your cash!1
Recommended: Do Bank Transactions Process Through the Holidays?
10 Direct Deposit Benefits to Know
The main advantages of direct deposit center on convenience and flexibility. If you’re not enrolled in direct deposit yet, here are some of the main benefits you may be missing out on.
1. Get Paid Early
One of the main benefits of direct deposit is the ability to collect your paychecks early. Direct deposits may hit your account one to two business days ahead of your regular pay date. In terms of how long you’ll have to wait for the payment to clear, the average time for direct deposit varies. Some banks can make funds available the same day they’re deposited.
2. Skip the Branch
In addition to getting an early paycheck, direct deposit allows you to avoid the time and energy of visiting a bank to deposit a paper check. Going to a bank to deposit checks can be inconvenient if you’re trying to squeeze it in on your lunch break or scrambling to get to a branch before it closes at the end of the work day.
3. Easy Setup
Enrolling in direct deposit is usually as simple as filling out a form and passing it along to the appropriate payer, which may be your employer or a government agency. You’ll need to provide your personal information as well as your bank account information.
You may only need to have your bank account number and routing number to set up direct deposit. In some cases, you might be asked for a voided check to verify your account details.
What is a voided check for direct deposit? It’s simply a blank check that has “VOID” written across the front. You won’t sign this check or make it out to anyone. It’s only used as physical evidence of your bank account information.
4. Get Paid Anywhere
If you’re used to picking up paper checks from your employer, direct deposit eliminates the need for that in-person presence. That means you can still get paid if you’re on vacation, out sick, or traveling for work on payday. The money goes straight to your bank account, so you don’t have to worry about delays if you need to schedule bill payments or cover expenses.
5. No Risk for Stolen or Lost Checks
Getting a paper paycheck can be problematic if you misplace it or, worse still, someone steals it. In either case, you’d have to ask your employer to cancel the original check and issue a new one. That could result in a delay in getting paid. With direct deposit, you don’t have to worry about losing a check or having it stolen since there’s no piece of paper changing hands.
6. Control Where Your Money Goes
One nice benefit of direct deposit is that you can decide where to send the money. For example, if you’d like to save $100 out of every paycheck, you can ask your employer to send that amount to your savings account via direct deposit and put the rest in your checking account. That’s an easy way to pay yourself first and build savings automatically.
7. No Check Cashing Fees
Check cashing fees can take a bite out of any payments you receive. If you’re tired of paying steep fees for check cashing services, that could be a great reason to open a bank account and set up direct deposit. You can get paid without having to go through a third-party company or hand over part of your earnings in fees.
8. Avoid Bank Fees
Some banks charge a monthly maintenance fee for checking and savings accounts. They may waive that fee when you set up qualifying direct deposits. If you’d like to reduce what you pay in fees without switching to another bank, enrolling in direct deposit could be a simple way to cut costs and save money.
9. Simplify Multiple Deposits
As mentioned, you can use direct deposit to receive many different types of payments. If you have income from multiple sources, then managing multiple paper checks could be a headache. Having those funds added to your account through direct deposit can streamline the way you track incoming payments.
10. Easier Budgeting
Direct deposit can also take the stress out of budgeting. If you know when your payments will be deposited and when you can expect them to clear, that can eliminate the guesswork of timing bill payments. You can plan out your budget by paycheck or by the month, using your direct deposit schedule as a guide.
Are There Any Disadvantages to Direct Deposit?
If there’s a disadvantage or downside to direct deposit it’s that not everyone is eligible to enroll. If your employer insists on paper checks, then you may not be able to take advantage of the benefits of direct deposit. You can, however, still use direct deposit to receive other types of payments.
One other thing to keep in mind is that it may take a few pay cycles to get your direct deposit going. So if you enroll on the first of the month, for example, you may not see any direct deposits until the first of the following month. That means you’ll still need to deposit paper checks at the bank in the meantime.
Another possible issue is, as mentioned above, if you don’t have a conventional bank account, you won’t be able to sign up for the service.
Also, some people may prefer to get a paper check, with the pay stub attached, so they can immediately review earnings and deductions rather than look up that info online. There may be some people as well who don’t feel comfortable sharing their banking information with an employer or other business. For them, direct deposit may not be a good fit.
How to Enroll in Direct Deposit
The process for enrolling in direct deposit can vary, based on where you’re trying to set up the payments. Generally, you’ll need to fill out a direct deposit form in person or online and tell the payer where you want the money to go.
The payer will verify your bank account information and personal information to get the direct deposit process started. You can also specify whether you want your payments to be split across multiple accounts. Keep in mind that you may be asked for a voided check or deposit slip to complete the process.
Enrolling in direct deposit can make your financial life easier since it means spending less time on banking, getting faster access to your funds, and being able to be paid, wherever you may be. If you’re not enrolled in direct deposit yet, it may be worth asking your employer about whether it’s an option.
You might also consider opening a new Checking and Savings account to receive direct deposit payments. With SoFi, qualifying accounts can get paycheck access up to two days early. You’ll also enjoy other perks, like no account fees and a competitive APY on balances. Plus, our Checking and Savings account lets you spend and save in one convenient place.
Does direct deposit work on holidays?
Typically, banks do not process transactions on holidays. However, if you’re enrolled in direct deposit, your employer may schedule your payment to arrive a day before the holiday so there are no delays in receiving your pay.
What happens if my direct deposit goes to the wrong account?
If you’re sending a direct deposit to a closed account, then the bank may reject the transaction and return the payment to the payer. If you’re depositing money into an account that’s open but it’s the wrong account, you’ll have to contact the bank to ask about possible solutions. You may be able to withdraw money or transfer it to the proper account if both accounts belong to you. However, if you accidentally deposit money into the wrong account then the bank may leave it to the account owner to return it to you.
How long can a bank hold direct deposit?
Banks can vary in how long they hold direct deposits before releasing the funds to you. Depending on the bank, the holding period may be anywhere from one to seven business days.
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SoFi members with direct deposit activity can earn 4.60% annual percentage yield (APY) on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% APY on checking balances. Direct Deposit means a deposit to an account holder’s SoFi Checking or Savings account, including payroll, pension, or government payments (e.g., Social Security), made by the account holder’s employer, payroll or benefits provider or government agency (“Direct Deposit”) via the Automated Clearing House (“ACH”) Network during a 30-day Evaluation Period (as defined below). Deposits that are not from an employer or government agency, including but not limited to check deposits, peer-to-peer transfers (e.g., transfers from PayPal, Venmo, etc.), merchant transactions (e.g., transactions from PayPal, Stripe, Square, etc.), and bank ACH funds transfers and wire transfers from external accounts, do not constitute Direct Deposit activity. There is no minimum Direct Deposit amount required to qualify for the stated interest rate.
SoFi members with Qualifying Deposits can earn 4.60% APY on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% APY on checking balances. Qualifying Deposits means one or more deposits that, in the aggregate, are equal to or greater than $5,000 to an account holder’s SoFi Checking and Savings account (“Qualifying Deposits”) during a 30-day Evaluation Period (as defined below). Qualifying Deposits only include those deposits from the following eligible sources: (i) ACH transfers, (ii) inbound wire transfers, (iii) peer-to-peer transfers (i.e., external transfers from PayPal, Venmo, etc. and internal peer-to-peer transfers from a SoFi account belonging to another account holder), (iv) check deposits, (v) instant funding to your SoFi Bank Debit Card, (vi) push payments to your SoFi Bank Debit Card, and (vii) cash deposits. Qualifying Deposits do not include: (i) transfers between an account holder’s Checking account, Savings account, and/or Vaults; (ii) interest payments; (iii) bonuses issued by SoFi Bank or its affiliates; or (iv) credits, reversals, and refunds from SoFi Bank, N.A. (“SoFi Bank”) or from a merchant.
SoFi Bank shall, in its sole discretion, assess each account holder’s Direct Deposit activity and Qualifying Deposits throughout each 30-Day Evaluation Period to determine the applicability of rates and may request additional documentation for verification of eligibility. The 30-Day Evaluation Period refers to the “Start Date” and “End Date” set forth on the APY Details page of your account, which comprises a period of 30 calendar days (the “30-Day Evaluation Period”). You can access the APY Details page at any time by logging into your SoFi account on the SoFi mobile app or SoFi website and selecting either (i) Banking > Savings > Current APY or (ii) Banking > Checking > Current APY. Upon receiving a Direct Deposit or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits to your account, you will begin earning 4.60% APY on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% on checking balances on or before the following calendar day. You will continue to earn these APYs for (i) the remainder of the current 30-Day Evaluation Period and through the end of the subsequent 30-Day Evaluation Period and (ii) any following 30-day Evaluation Periods during which SoFi Bank determines you to have Direct Deposit activity or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits without interruption.
SoFi Bank reserves the right to grant a grace period to account holders following a change in Direct Deposit activity or Qualifying Deposits activity before adjusting rates. If SoFi Bank grants you a grace period, the dates for such grace period will be reflected on the APY Details page of your account. If SoFi Bank determines that you did not have Direct Deposit activity or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits during the current 30-day Evaluation Period and, if applicable, the grace period, then you will begin earning the rates earned by account holders without either Direct Deposit or Qualifying Deposits until you have Direct Deposit activity or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits in a subsequent 30-Day Evaluation Period. For the avoidance of doubt, an account holder with both Direct Deposit activity and Qualifying Deposits will earn the rates earned by account holders with Direct Deposit.
Members without either Direct Deposit activity or Qualifying Deposits, as determined by SoFi Bank, during a 30-Day Evaluation Period and, if applicable, the grace period, will earn 1.20% APY on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% APY on checking balances.
Interest rates are variable and subject to change at any time. These rates are current as of 10/24/2023. There is no minimum balance requirement. Additional information can be found at http://www.sofi.com/legal/banking-rate-sheet..
Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.