What Is Mobile Deposit and How Does It Work?

By Janet Siroto · May 20, 2024 · 9 minute read

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What Is Mobile Deposit and How Does It Work?

Mobile deposit is a fast, easy, and convenient way to deposit a check without going to the bank. You just snap a photo of your check with your smartphone and upload it to your bank’s app.

But you may have questions about this feature, even if you are already using it. For instance, how do you endorse a check for mobile deposit? How long will the check take to clear? Keep reading to find out the answer to these questions and more.

Key Points

•   Mobile deposit allows check deposits via a smartphone app, eliminating the need to visit a bank.

•   Deposits can be made anytime, which is convenient for those with busy schedules.

•   The process involves endorsing the check, entering the amount, and uploading photos of the front and back.

•   Funds from deposits may be available quickly, depending on the bank’s policies.

•   Enhanced security measures are in place to protect users during the mobile deposit process.

What Is A Mobile Check Deposit?

A mobile deposit is a process that allows you to deposit a check into your account using your phone’s or your tablet’s camera. Typically, you open your bank’s mobile app and type in the amount of the check and take a photo of both the front and the back of the check. Before you do this, be sure to endorse the check.

Some details about mobile deposit you may want to note:

•   The app generally lets you use this feature 24 hours a day, although some banks may only make a same-day deposit up until a certain hour, like 10:00 pm. Every bank will be different, but most banks will deposit a check quite late in the evening, even if they won’t allow 24 hours.

•   How long do mobile deposits take to clear? Deposits may show up immediately, later on the same day, or the next day. Sometimes, they’ll be fully available and sometimes partially, depending on the rules of your bank.

For example, say you make a mobile deposit worth $3,000. Your bank may make $500 available immediately and the remaining $2,500 available in two business days. Each bank is going to have its own funds availability policy, though there are some federal regulations on how long a bank can place a hold on a deposited check. Ask your financial institution about their policies.

•   Some banks may have one-day or monthly dollar limits on mobile deposits (like $10,000 per month). Others may have limits on the size of checks that they are willing to cash over mobile deposit. For example, some banks will not allow customers to mobile deposit checks worth more than $5,000.

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How Secure Is Mobile Check Deposit?

Just like mobile banking in general, mobile deposit is typically very safe. However, there are a few steps you can take to boost security.

•   Double-check that you have entered the check amount properly. Otherwise, there might be issues processing the deposit.

•   Be sure you’ve endorsed the check for mobile deposit properly (more on that below).

•   Follow best practices for the security of your banking app. Never share passwords or other login information.

•   Keep checks secure and private, and make sure to shred them when they’ve been deposited and the funds have cleared.

How Does Mobile Deposit Work?

How does mobile deposit work? For the customer, it’s quite simple actually Here’s a closer look.

1. Verify If Your Bank Offers Mobile Depositing

Many banks offer mobile depositing. But if you’re new to this feature or have a new bank account, make sure mobile deposit is available.

2. Review Mobile Deposit Limits

Some banks will have limits about mobile deposit. Perhaps your bank only allows up to $500 or $2,500 a day or $10,000 a month via mobile deposit. You want to know that before you attempt to deposit a check that’s over the limit.

3. Endorse Your Check for Deposit

How do you endorse a check for mobile deposit? That depends on your bank. Some may be fine with you signing your name on the bank. Others may request that you add language such as “For Electronic Deposit at [bank name].” Familiarize yourself with your financial institution’s guidelines so you avoid any delays with your mobile deposit.

4. Follow Your Bank’s Mobile Banking Instructions to Deposit Your Check

Next, you’ll follow the instructions to deposit the check. They typically go something like this:

•   Log into your bank’s mobile banking app and navigate to the mobile deposit feature.

•   Select the account you want to deposit the check into.

•   Enter the amount of the check.

•   Take a photo of the endorsed check, front and back.

•   Review the details (your bank’s app may show the details, such as the check amount and account it’s heading towards and ask if everything looks correct).

•   Submit your check.

Recommended: Guide to Signing Over a Check

5. Keep Your Check and Wait for the Money to Be Deposited

Just as with a check deposited at a bank’s ATM or branch, the money may not be immediately available for use. Checks typically take a bit of time to clear. Here’s how mobile deposit works:

•   When you snap that photo, a financial institution will generally produce a copy of the check as a stand-in for the physical copy. Using this facsimile, a bank will work to collect the money from the check writer’s account.

•   Even before the bank is able to retrieve the money from the check’s source, the money may show as deposited into your account. Though the technology is incredibly swift, the money itself isn’t actually moving that fast.

•   Money often becomes available in one day, but it could typically take up to several business days, depending on the bank’s policies, the bank the funds are drawn from, and other variables.

This lag time can create problems — you might spend or transfer the funds before the money has fully cleared.

It’s wise to hold onto the physical copy of your check for two weeks in case there is a problem getting the check deposited. If you need to, mark it so you know that you’ve already deposited the check. Once you know it’s cleared, shred or destroy the check so that no one can obtain the information.

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Benefits of Mobile Deposit

Now that you know how the mobile deposit process works, here’s a guide to the benefits of mobile deposits.

Save Yourself a Trip to the ATM

This is a major benefit of mobile banking. Having to take a trip to a bank branch or ATM to deposit a check can be a real hassle. With this kind of deposit (and online banking in general), you don’t need to budge from wherever you are to get that check into your bank account.

Deposit Money Later in the Day

For lots of working people, getting to the bank before it closes at 5:00 pm on a weekday is difficult to do. With mobile banking, checks can be deposited at any time of day, any day of the week. You can be in your pjs, watching a streaming series, and quickly get that money deposited.

Deposits Are Credited Quickly

Because of the extended hours offered by mobile deposits, it may be possible to deposit a check and see the money available in your account faster than if you had to wait until you make it to a branch location. If you deposit the check during mobile deposit hours and the amount is, say, $200 or under, it is possible to see your funds immediately. But, as mentioned above, it’s always wise to make sure the check has fully cleared before transferring or spending it. Remember, it’s not the same as depositing cash into your account.

Deposit a Check From Anywhere

Sometimes, you’re simply not anywhere near a branch or appropriate ATM but need to deposit a check. One of mobile banking’s biggest benefits is being able to deposit a check from anywhere in the world, whether you’re on vacation, attending a business meeting out of town, or otherwise not at your home base.

Deposits Are Secure

In terms of security, mobile banking is very safe. Depositing your checks through your mobile app can be as secure as any other digital banking process. Most banks and credit unions use enhanced security processes and encryption to protect their customers.

Also, if you are worried that your phone might be stolen and the image of your check could potentially fall into the wrong hands, don’t be. The image of a check that is deposited via mobile banking isn’t stored on your phone.

A Few Downsides to Mobile Deposit

Now that you’ve heard about the benefits of mobile banking when it comes to depositing checks, let’s acknowledge that there are also a few downsides. A couple to consider:

•   If you want to cash your check and get those bills in hand, you will not be able to do so via mobile deposit. The funds must go into your account.

•   Your mobile deposit might wind up bouncing, just as a check can bounce when deposited via other means. Don’t assume that just because it’s deposited, you can go and spend it.

•   There are mobile deposit frauds that occur, often in which a person or organization you don’t know well sends you a check and asks for you to deposit it and then send a portion back to them. Keep your guard up!

Recommended: Guide to Check Verification

The Takeaway

What is mobile deposit? It’s a feature that allows you to deposit a check from virtually anywhere and at any time, using an app on your smartphone. There are many advantages to mobile banking, such as saving you time and energy vs. taking the check to a bricks-and-mortar branch or an ATM. It’s one of the ways that mobile banking can help make managing your personal finances more convenient.

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Can someone mobile deposit money into my account?

In order to make a mobile deposit to your account, you need to be logged into your account on your device. For this reason, it is unlikely someone could make a mobile deposit to your account.

Can I mobile deposit a check that’s not in my name?

There are some financial institutions that will permit a mobile deposit of someone else’s check (which you may hear referred to as a third-party check or a check that’s been signed over to you), but others (such as Bank of America) prohibit this.

How secure is mobile check deposit?

Mobile check deposits are very secure and can be more convenient than carrying a check to a bank or ATM to deposit it.

Are mobile deposits instant?

Mobile deposits are not instantaneous. The check may take from one day to several days to clear, although the fact that you deposited the check may pop up on your banking app very quickly.

How do you endorse a check for mobile deposit?

How to endorse a check for mobile deposit may vary among banks. Check yours to see exactly how this should be done. It’s often a matter of signing your name and writing “For electronic deposit” on the back of the check.

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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 recurring deposit of regular income to an account holder’s SoFi Checking or Savings account, including payroll, pension, or government benefit 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, or are non-recurring in nature (e.g., IRS tax refunds), do not constitute Direct Deposit activity. There is no minimum Direct Deposit amount required to qualify for the stated interest rate.

As an alternative to direct deposit, 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 https://www.sofi.com/legal/banking-rate-sheet.

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