Dormant Account: What Is a Dormant Bank Account?

Guide to Dormant Bank Accounts

Dormant bank accounts have had no activity for a certain period of time, typically three to five years. That means no deposits, withdrawals, transfers, or other processes. They have just been sitting untouched. These inactive accounts can be charged inactivity fees by financial institutions, and if there is no activity for an additional period, the account may be closed.

This can be a rude awakening for some consumers, but a bank or credit union has the right to close a dormant account without your permission. Here are the facts you need to know to protect yourself.

What is a Dormant Account?

A dormant account is a financial account in which there hasn’t been any posted activity for a time period set by the bank or credit union. Activity includes such transactions as deposits, withdrawals, ATM usage, or transfers. FYI, earning interest doesn’t count as a posted activity because it is not initiated by you, the account holder.

The official definition of a dormant bank account varies by state and account type, but it most often happens if an account is inactive for three to five years. As with having a negative bank account balance and letting it sit, an inactive account is not a good sign for your wealth health.

💡 Quick Tip: An online bank account with SoFi can help your money earn more — up to 4.60% APY, with no minimum balance required.

How Does a Dormant Account Work?

These steps change a bank account from active to dormant:

1.    No deposits, withdrawals, or transfers for one year. Some accounts get no love. Perhaps you ignore rainy-day savings while balancing your day-to-day budget and forget about an account. But 12 months with no transactions in an account will set this dormancy process in motion. (One of the top benefits of bank account linking on your bank’s website or app is that you can see all accounts at a glance. This can be a good way to fend off an account going dormant.)

2.    The financial institution flags account as inactive. Nada is happening, not even a deposit, withdrawal, or transfer to pay for a Starbucks latte. The bank takes note and declares it a dormant bank account.

3.    The financial institution starts charging an inactivity fee. Some banks charge zero, but others slap on fees of $5 to $15 per month. Look for these fees on your monthly bank statement.

4.    After beginning one year, there’s no account activity for another two years. The timing varies by state. In California, Connecticut, and Illinois, for example, most bank accounts go dormant after three years. In Delaware, Georgia, and Wisconsin, five years must pass.

5.    The financial institution changes the account from inactive to dormant. The bank will try to contact the account holder (a problem if you moved and didn’t update your address) and allow a certain amount of time for a response.

6.    The financial institution closes the account and sends any leftover funds to the state. This is an automatic legal process called escheatment. But the story is still not officially over. You do have options if your assets have been transferred to the state due to a forgotten or lost bank account (more on this below).

Types of Accounts That Can Be Considered Dormant

Several different types of bank accounts can fall under the dormant account heading, including checking accounts, savings accounts, money market accounts, certificates of deposit (CDs), and investment accounts. Even safe deposit box holdings can be considered a dormant account if inactive for a number of years.

Worth noting: Your bank account might also be locked, or frozen, because of suspected fraud, unpaid child support, or unpaid bills. These are reasons why you have a frozen bank account, which is different from a dormant one.

What Is Escheatment?

If you have a bank account that is dormant, escheatment will likely occur. Escheatment is the process by which unclaimed assets are automatically transferred by the bank to the state. When this transfer happens, it means you can no longer reclaim your funds from your financial institution. If you want to get them back, you will have to take other steps.

Recommended: Guide to Bank Account Closure Letters

How Can I Reclaim Escheated Funds?

Every state must follow procedures to document the escheatment and is required to allow time for the original owner to come forward. Here is the process to get your money back:

1.    Search a public database such as Unclaimed.org or MissingMoney.com to link to your state’s unclaimed funds. The search should be free of charge. Don’t put your trust in fraudster sites that charge any fee at all, even $1 for a “trial search period.”

2.    If you see your name and property listed, follow the stated procedure to verify ownership. You will need to provide specific documents and of course, identification.

3.    The money will be released to you.

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Consequences of Having a Dormant Account

Having an account go dormant can impact your ability to access and use the funds.

•   No withdrawals at ATM or branch

•   No address changes

•   Cannot add or delete joint account holder

•   No online banking transactions

•   No investment transactions

•   No ATM card renewal

•   You might wait months or even years to reclaim escheated funds from the state

•   Risk of fraudsters stealing your escheated funds

Difference Between a Dormant and Frozen Account

A dormant account is a bank or investment account so named after showing no transactions over a period of three to five years.

A frozen account is a bank or investment account that is temporarily locked, meaning you cannot withdraw money or funds. Usually, an account is frozen because you owe money to a creditor or the government. You may need to take steps to remove a hold on your bank account.

Whether dormant or frozen, both situations can cause you financial hardship.

Why Does an Account Go Dormant?

An account goes dormant when the bank does not see any activity in it for three to five years. This can indicate that the account has been abandoned or forgotten.

Keeping Your Account From Going Dormant

To keep your checking or savings account from going dormant, be sure to use it regularly, even if it’s just to make a transfer or deposit from another of your linked bank accounts a couple of times a year. If you let it sit without any activity, you run the risk of the account going dormant.

When an account goes dormant but the funds haven’t been transferred out or your bank account is closed for any other reason, it’s wise to take steps to remedy the situation and either reopen your bank account or officially close it.

The Takeaway

Banks and credit unions take note of accounts that show no transactions for a long period of time. The dormant account process starts with one year of no activity. After three to five years, depending on your state, ends with your money being turned over to the state.

Looking for options for a bank account you’ll use often?

Interested in opening an online bank account? When you sign up for a SoFi Checking and Savings account with direct deposit, you’ll get a competitive annual percentage yield (APY), pay zero account fees, and enjoy an array of rewards, such as access to the Allpoint Network of 55,000+ fee-free ATMs globally. Qualifying accounts can even access their paycheck up to two days early.


Better banking is here with SoFi, NerdWallet’s 2024 winner for Best Checking Account Overall.* Enjoy up to 4.60% APY on SoFi Checking and Savings.

FAQ

What happens if my account is dormant?

If your account is deemed dormant due to inactivity for three to five years, your bank will try to notify you before closing it. If you don’t respond in the given period of time, the account will be closed and the money turned over to the state.

How do I reactivate my dormant account?

You can reactivate a dormant account with your bank or credit union between the time it has been declared dormant and the time the funds are turned over to the state. The key is responding promptly to the bank’s communication saying your account will be closed.

How many years is an account dormant for?

After a total of about three to five years “asleep” with no transactions (though this can vary by state), a bank moves an account to dormant status. The account remains dormant while the bank tries to contact the account holder before turning the funds over to the state.


Photo credit: iStock/AntonioSolano

SoFi® Checking and Savings is offered through SoFi Bank, N.A. ©2023 SoFi Bank, N.A. All rights reserved. Member FDIC. Equal Housing Lender.
The SoFi Bank Debit Mastercard® is issued by SoFi Bank, N.A., pursuant to license by Mastercard International Incorporated and can be used everywhere Mastercard is accepted. Mastercard is a registered trademark, and the circles design is a trademark of Mastercard International Incorporated.


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.


*Awards or rankings from NerdWallet are not indicative of future success or results. This award and its ratings are independently determined and awarded by their respective publications.

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.

Third-Party Brand Mentions: No brands, products, or companies mentioned are affiliated with SoFi, nor do they endorse or sponsor this article. Third-party trademarks referenced herein are property of their respective owners.

External Websites: The information and analysis provided through hyperlinks to third-party websites, while believed to be accurate, cannot be guaranteed by SoFi. Links are provided for informational purposes and should not be viewed as an endorsement.

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Guide to Voucher Checks

Voucher checks (also called check vouchers) are an extended check format that includes payment details not typically seen on a standard check. For example, a payroll voucher check allows the recipient to view taxes and other deductions from their gross pay. Voucher checks get their name from the two detachable sections (the “vouchers” or stubs) below the check itself.

A disadvantage of voucher checks is the additional clerical work required by the business issuing the check. Keep reading for more insight into how voucher checks work.

What Is a Voucher Check?

Many consumers don’t know what a voucher check is. A voucher check is a type of check that has detailed informational sections attached. These vouchers outline what the content and purpose of the check is. The voucher check is typically printed as a full sheet of paper, with the check at the top and the two removable vouchers below.

The check payee holds on to the first voucher. Before cashing the check, the recipient will remove the remaining voucher and keep it for their records. Both parties can refer back to their vouchers in the event of a payment dispute.

A number of small businesses use voucher checks for employee payroll. Payroll vouchers, also referred to as “pay stubs,” usually list payroll deductions for taxes, insurance premiums, and other withholding items. This information can help employees better understand their pre- and post-tax income, and the breakdown of deductions.

💡 Quick Tip: Typically, checking accounts don’t earn interest. However, some accounts do, and online banks are more likely than brick-and-mortar banks to offer you the best rates.

How Do Voucher Checks Work?

For payees, voucher checks are handled the same as standard checks, with one exception: The payee should remove the voucher from the check before deposit. The voucher can be kept on file for future reference.

Anyone with a bank account can deposit a voucher check. Consumers who don’t have a bank account (about 1 in 20 Americans) can sign over a check to another recipient.

Or they might try cashing the check at a local bank or credit union for a fee. As with most corporate checks, recipients should try to deposit the check within 6 months or the check may expire.

Recommended: How to Balance a Checkbook

Who Uses Voucher Checks?

As mentioned above, voucher checks are commonly used by businesses to pay their staff or vendors. Even if a company uses direct deposit to pay employees, they may choose to keep a paper trail via a voucher check system.

Preparing a Voucher Check

Voucher checks (or check vouchers) may be prepared by a business’ accounts payable or payroll department, using the following steps.

•   Step 1 All related documents — contracts, purchase orders, invoices, statements of accounts — are collected, either in hard copy or digitally.

•   Step 2 A voucher is created that incorporates any relevant info from the backup documentation, but always includes the voucher number, bank name, payor, date, amount, and recipient.

•   Step 3 The voucher is then attached to a standard written check, and both are signed by the authorized signatory.

•   Step 4 Once the recipient deposits or cashes the check, the business will file its own voucher and supporting documents.

Advantages of a Voucher Check

There are important advantages associated with voucher checks, which prompts businesses to go to the extra effort. Here are some of them:

Documents Maintained in Check Voucher System

When preparing a check voucher, a business must first gather all supporting documentation. This helps keep all relevant paperwork organized and in one place. It’s not possible to maintain a check voucher system without doing this.

Records Are in Order With No Irregularities

The bookkeeping process is considerably simpler when a payroll department uses a check voucher system, because all important documents are easily accessible in one place, in hard copy or digitally. Also, check vouchers are numbered and filed in chronological order, which keeps filing systems simple.

Easier to Track Checks

Businesses commonly do not file check vouchers until the check is deposited or cashed. Only cleared checks are filed.

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Disadvantages of Voucher Checks

There are downsides associated with voucher checks that small businesses in particular may want to keep in mind.

Maintenance Process Can Be Time-Consuming

Because of the additional documentation and organization requirements, it can be tedious for businesses to maintain a check voucher system.

Lack of Consumer Familiarity

Many consumers aren’t familiar with how paper check vouchers work, which can cause concerns about security. Consumers should take care to keep their vouchers private.

Check Voucher Alternatives

Some employers may choose to use the following alternative payment methods. None of these options, however, provides as extensive and organized a paper trail as check vouchers do.

•   Standard checks. A simple physical check still provides some form of a paper trail. Paper checks can also be tracked digitally or via duplicate checks.

•   Direct deposit. Many businesses and employees prefer the direct deposit route because of how fast and simple it is to electronically transfer the funds.

•   Prepaid debit cards. This is a newer and less common payment option. Workers paid in prepaid debit cards won’t need a bank account to access their funds.

Recommended: How to Verify a Check

The Takeaway

Voucher checks (also called check vouchers) are an extended check format that includes payment details not typically seen on a standard check, such as taxes and other deductions from their gross pay. These checks can provide a details paper trail for both the business issuing the check and the recipient.

Need a good place to deposit your pay? See what SoFi offers.

Interested in opening an online bank account? When you sign up for a SoFi Checking and Savings account with direct deposit, you’ll get a competitive annual percentage yield (APY), pay zero account fees, and enjoy an array of rewards, such as access to the Allpoint Network of 55,000+ fee-free ATMs globally. Qualifying accounts can even access their paycheck up to two days early.


Better banking is here with SoFi, NerdWallet’s 2024 winner for Best Checking Account Overall.* Enjoy up to 4.60% APY on SoFi Checking and Savings.

FAQ

How do you use a voucher check?

For payees, voucher checks are handled the same as standard checks, with one exception: The payee should remove the voucher from the check before deposit. The voucher can be kept on file for future reference.

What is the difference between a check and a voucher?

Voucher checks get their name from the two detachable sections (the “vouchers” or stubs) below the check itself. The voucher portion outlines the content and purpose of the check. Aside from the voucher, the check portion works like a standard paper check.

What does a voucher check look like?

A voucher check is typically printed as a full sheet of paper, with the check at the top and two removable vouchers below. The vouchers contain additional payment information that usually isn’t included on a standard check.


SoFi® Checking and Savings is offered through SoFi Bank, N.A. ©2023 SoFi Bank, N.A. All rights reserved. Member FDIC. Equal Housing Lender.
The SoFi Bank Debit Mastercard® is issued by SoFi Bank, N.A., pursuant to license by Mastercard International Incorporated and can be used everywhere Mastercard is accepted. Mastercard is a registered trademark, and the circles design is a trademark of Mastercard International Incorporated.


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.


*Awards or rankings from NerdWallet are not indicative of future success or results. This award and its ratings are independently determined and awarded by their respective publications.

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.

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Guide to Paying Online With a Checking Account

You can pay with a checking account online, provided a company accepts this payment form. Many do, such as Amazon and Walmart. This can be a welcome convenience if you are trying to pay down or avoid credit card debt.

However, some online retailers don’t allow checking accounts as payment methods, so workarounds may be required in order to complete your transaction. Here’s how to shop online with a checking account and what to do if a business doesn’t support this form of payment.

Can You Pay Online With a Checking Account?

Shoppers can pay online with a checking account when online retailers accept this form of payment. Not all businesses accept checking accounts as a payment method on their websites. Many online retailers may only take credit cards or payment apps, so it’s important to check the website for accepted forms of payment.

Get up to $300 when you bank with SoFi.

Open a SoFi Checking and Savings Account with direct deposit and get up to a $300 cash bonus. Plus, get up to 4.60% APY on your cash!


Where Can You Pay With Your Checking Account Online?

You can pay online with your checking account when a company’s website accepts it as a valid form of payment. For example, Amazon allows checking accounts as a payment option for purchases. So too does Walmart. Some companies may also accept electronic checks.

Recommended: Reasons to Open a Checking Account

How to Shop Online With Your Checking Account

Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to shop online and pay with a checking account:

Find a Retailer That Accepts Checking Accounts

Start by finding an online retailer that accepts checking account payments. Some retailers don’t take payments this way, so it’s essential to double-check the website’s FAQ page, review checkout options, or chat with a customer service representative about payment options.

Verify Website Security

Before proceeding with your purchase, it’s crucial to ensure the website is secure. Look for the reassuring “https://” at the beginning of the URL and a padlock icon in the address bar. This signifies that the website encrypts data during transmission, providing a secure environment for your payment details. Additionally, the website’s privacy policy should explicitly state its commitment to protecting your payment information, further enhancing your sense of security.

Access Your Checking Account Information

To proceed smoothly, make sure you have your checking account information at hand. This includes your account number and routing number, which you can find on your checks or by logging into your bank account online. The routing number is always nine digits, while bank account numbers are typically from eight to 12 digits (but can be as long as 17), depending on your bank. Also, ensure you have sufficient funds in your checking account to cover the purchase amount.

Shop and Check Out

Add the items to your cart that you want to purchase, and proceed to checkout. When you reach the payment section, select the option to pay with a checking account or electronic check. These options may also be called “ACH” or “eCheck” when you go to pay.

Enter Your Account Information

When entering your checking account information, do so accurately. This usually includes typing in your account number, routing number, and sometimes the name on the account. You may also have to submit your address for additional identification information. Take a moment to double-check the information to avoid any potential errors.

Complete the Purchase

After entering your checking account details, review your order summary, and verify the total purchase amount. Once you’re satisfied, confirm the payment to complete the transaction. Depending on the retailer, you may receive a confirmation email and/or see an order confirmation page.

Monitor Your Account

After making the purchase, keep an eye on your checking account activity to ensure the correct amount has been deducted. Most retailers process payments within a few business days, so the deduction may not appear immediately.

You may also see a small charge — usually a few dollars — on your account from the merchant. Some online retailers issue this charge and immediately refund it to check if the bank account information is valid.

Pros and Cons of Paying Online With Your Checking Account

Paying with a checking account when shopping online has specific perks and drawbacks you should consider alongside your financial circumstances.

Pros:

•   Using a checking account can be a valuable option if you don’t have or want to use a credit card or debit card to shop online.

•   For some people, it can be easier to manage a budget using their checking account.

•   Online shopping with a checking account could potentially be cheaper, depending on what fees are assessed on different methods.

•   Unlike credit cards, you must have sufficient cash in your checking account to complete a purchase. This requirement can prevent you from impulse buying and going into debt.

Cons:

•   Many online retailers don’t take checking account information for payments, meaning you’ll need a credit card, debit card, or payment app to make online purchases.

•   Insufficient funds in your checking account can lead to overdraft fees and rejected transactions.

•   Checking accounts usually don’t offer the cash back rewards you can earn from using credit and debit cards,

•   Credit cards often have robust purchase protection policies, helping to secure you against fraud.

Alternatives to Using Your Checking Account to Pay for Online Shopping

Several alternatives to paying with a checking account online are available for shoppers. Each has different benefits and considerations, so it’s wise to choose the option that best fits your needs and preferences.

•   Debit cards: Debit cards connect to your checking account and can be used to make purchases online, just like credit cards. They deduct funds directly from your checking account after you make a purchase. Debit cards offer convenience and security, but you’ll need to monitor your account balance to avoid overdraft fees. Most online retailers accept this payment option. However, debit cards may not offer the same purchase protections that credit cards do.

•   Prepaid debit cards: Instead of a debit card linked to your checking account, you can use a prepaid debit card. This option entails loading funds onto the card from a checking or savings account and using it for purchases until the balance runs out. This can help control your spending or function as your main payment method if you don’t have a traditional bank account.

Prepaid debit cards are widely accepted for online purchases. While they don’t contain your bank account information, they also probably don’t have purchase protection or security alerts. You may also have to pay a fee to obtain one.

•   Credit cards: Credit cards allow you to spend money using a line of credit and pay the balance on a monthly basis. Credit cards can offer rewards points, cash back, and purchase protection. As with debit cards, nearly every online merchant accepts credit cards. However, it’s possible to spend an amount you can’t afford to pay back later. If you fall behind on payments, you can incur high interest fees and wind up with significant credit card debt.

•   Third-party payment services: Third-party payment apps like PayPal and Venmo allow you to link your checking account, debit card, or credit card to make purchases online without extra fees. These apps guard your personal information by keeping your payment details private from merchants. They may also offer features like buyer protection and the ability to split payments with friends.

•   Gift cards: Gift cards are prepaid cards loaded with a specific denomination that you can use to make purchases at a particular retailer or group of retailers. They are a convenient alternative to using a checking account for online shopping, especially if you want to give a gift or if you have a specific retailer in mind. They usually come in specific increments, such as $10, $25, $50, and so on.

•   Government benefits: If you receive the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) for food, you’ll get an Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) account to hold the funds. Grocery stores and other retailers, including Walmart, Meijer, Instacart, and Aldi, accept EBT as a form of online payment.

Recommended: Pros and Cons of Using a Debit Card Online

Opening a Checking Account With SoFi

Paying online with a checking account is a viable way to make purchases on websites that accept this method. This technique can help prevent overspending and reduce fees, but it may not always be available and can be less convenient than other forms of payment, including debit cards and credit cards. As a result, it’s important to check which payment methods an online business takes and decide which one is best for your financial circumstances.

Interested in opening an online bank account? When you sign up for a SoFi Checking and Savings account with direct deposit, you’ll get a competitive annual percentage yield (APY), pay zero account fees, and enjoy an array of rewards, such as access to the Allpoint Network of 55,000+ fee-free ATMs globally. Qualifying accounts can even access their paycheck up to two days early.


Better banking is here with SoFi, NerdWallet’s 2024 winner for Best Checking Account Overall.* Enjoy up to 4.60% APY on SoFi Checking and Savings.

FAQ

What can you purchase online with your account and routing number?

If you have the account and routing number for your checking account, you can make purchases with online retailers that accept this form of payment. Because every retailer has its own payment policies, you will need to check their website to see which forms of payment they take.

Where can you pay online with a checking account?

You can pay online with a checking account with any retailer that accepts it as a method of payment, such as Amazon and Walmart. However, some retailers only accept debit cards, credit cards, and payment apps.

Can you pay online with your account and routing number?

You can pay online with your account and routing number if the online retailer accepts a checking account for payment. Many retailers don’t accept bank accounts for payment, so paying by debit card, credit card, payment app, or gift card might be necessary.


Photo credit: iStock/Milan Markovic

SoFi® Checking and Savings is offered through SoFi Bank, N.A. ©2023 SoFi Bank, N.A. All rights reserved. Member FDIC. Equal Housing Lender.
The SoFi Bank Debit Mastercard® is issued by SoFi Bank, N.A., pursuant to license by Mastercard International Incorporated and can be used everywhere Mastercard is accepted. Mastercard is a registered trademark, and the circles design is a trademark of Mastercard International Incorporated.


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.


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.

*Awards or rankings from NerdWallet are not indicative of future success or results. This award and its ratings are independently determined and awarded by their respective publications.

Third-Party Brand Mentions: No brands, products, or companies mentioned are affiliated with SoFi, nor do they endorse or sponsor this article. Third-party trademarks referenced herein are property of their respective owners.

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Guide to Postdated Checks

Postdated Checks: Are They Legal? Is It a Waste of Time?

If a check writer doesn’t want the payee to be able to cash a check immediately, they may choose to postdate it: On the date line, they would simply write in a future date. This can be helpful if someone needs to deliver a check before they have the funds necessary for the check to clear in their account.

Postdated checks are usually legal, unless they are being used to defraud the recipient. Learn more about how this payment process works and why some people postdate checks.

What Is a Postdated Check?

When someone writes a postdated check, they fill in a future date on the check instead of the current date. A payer might do this so a check can’t be deposited until that later date (when they’ll have the funds available in their checking account).

This process can come in handy if you want to mail a check to pay a bill before it’s due. Say the bill is due on the 19th, but you are mailing it on the 15th. You might postdate it for the 19th. You know the check needs a couple of days to arrive and then be deposited. This can also be a good move if you know your paycheck hits on the 17th and will help cover the check.

💡 Quick Tip: Make money easy. Enjoy the convenience of managing bills, deposits, and transfers from one online bank account with SoFi.

Are Postdated Checks Legal?

Usually, postdated checks are legal in the U.S., but it’s worth verifying the rules in the state where the check writer lives. Note that these guidelines may not cover cashier’s checks or traveler’s checks, which have their own rules and limitations.

Also worth mentioning: If a check is postdated with the intention of defrauding the recipient, then it could be illegal. Since postdating is sometimes used in this way for fraudulent purposes, think twice before agreeing to accept a postdated check, especially from someone you don’t know well.

Recommended: How to Verify a Check Before Depositing

How to Write a Postdated Check

Writing a postdated check is the same as writing any other check. You fill out the name of the payee, the amount of the check in words and numbers, a memo if you like on the line at the lower left, and sign the check.

The only difference is that instead of putting the current date in the space on the right, you put a future date. This date is often just a few days or a week in the future.

Example of a Postdated Check

If today’s date were September 1st, 2024, and you wanted to write a check for $100 to your friend Susan Jones to repay her for a loan, here’s how you might postdate it:

•   You would write “Susan Jones” after the “Pay to the Order of” wording.

•   Next to it, to the right, in the space with the dollar sign, you’d write, “100.00”

•   Under that, you’d fill out “One hundred and 00/100 cents” on the line for the amount in words.

•   You can add a memo at lower left, if you like, such as “loan repayment.”

•   Now, for the postdating part: If it’s September 1st but you don’t want the check to be cashed until the 5th, you’d write “September 5, 2024” on the date line at upper right.

The idea here is, you don’t want Susan to deposit the check until the 5th, even though the current date is the 1st.

Get up to $300 when you bank with SoFi.

Open a SoFi Checking and Savings Account with direct deposit and get up to a $300 cash bonus. Plus, get up to 4.60% APY on your cash!


What Happens When a Postdated Check Gets Cashed Early?

Generally, the payee has to wait to cash a postdated check until the date specified on the check arrives. That being said, some financial institutions may cash a check prior to that date.

•   If there are sufficient funds in the check writer’s account, the check will be paid.

•   If there isn’t enough money to cover the check’s amount, the check will be returned. This typically incurs overdraft or NSF (nonsufficient funds) fees, possibly for both parties.

For this reason, even if a bank or credit union is willing to cash a postdated check before the date written on the check, the payee may be better off waiting to cash it. The odds are that the payer added a postdate because at the time they didn’t have the funds available in their account to cover the check.

Recommended: How to Sign Over a Check to Someone Else

Alternatives to Postdated Checks

Check writers who want to buy some time until a deposit to their account clears have other options besides postdated checks.

•   Online and Automatic Bill Payments: One option for making future payments without having to postdate a check is to go digital. The payer can go online to schedule a bill to be paid on the exact date of their choosing. As a bonus, there’s no need to order checks or manage a checkbook with this payment method.

Also, at your request, some businesses — including mortgage, utility, and credit card companies — can change the due date of your monthly bill to one of your choosing. For instance, if you get paid on the first of the month, you can request that the due date of your rent or mortgage payment always be three days later. That way, you can set up automated bill pay without worrying about your transaction clearing.

•   Payment Plans: Before you consider postdating a check to avoid overdrawing your checking account, ask if the business will offer you a payment plan. Some companies will allow individuals to make smaller, incremental payments over time rather than one big payment. Make sure to find out first if the payment plan involves a fee or interest.

The Takeaway

A postdated check is the same as a standard check, but instead of putting the current date on it, the check writer fills out a future date. This is often done with the intention that the payee will not cash the check until that future date, when funds are available.

As you manage your money, it helps to have the right banking partner.

Interested in opening an online bank account? When you sign up for a SoFi Checking and Savings account with direct deposit, you’ll get a competitive annual percentage yield (APY), pay zero account fees, and enjoy an array of rewards, such as access to the Allpoint Network of 55,000+ fee-free ATMs globally. Qualifying accounts can even access their paycheck up to two days early.

Better banking is here with SoFi, NerdWallet’s 2024 winner for Best Checking Account Overall.* Enjoy up to 4.60% APY on SoFi Checking and Savings.

FAQ

What is the meaning of a postdated check?

A postdated check is filled out with a date in the future. The meaning is that it is not intended to be processed until the future date written on it.

Are postdated checks illegal?

No, it’s generally not illegal to postdate a check. That said, it’s a good idea to learn about the laws governing postdating checks in your area. Postdating a check can be considered a crime if the payer’s account does not have the required funds to process the check and if they intended to defraud the payee when they issued the postdated check.

Can a postdated check be returned?

If a postdated check is deposited (whether before or after the date on it) and there aren’t sufficient funds to cover it, the check may be returned unpaid.


Photo credit: iStock/AndreyPopov

SoFi® Checking and Savings is offered through SoFi Bank, N.A. ©2023 SoFi Bank, N.A. All rights reserved. Member FDIC. Equal Housing Lender.
The SoFi Bank Debit Mastercard® is issued by SoFi Bank, N.A., pursuant to license by Mastercard International Incorporated and can be used everywhere Mastercard is accepted. Mastercard is a registered trademark, and the circles design is a trademark of Mastercard International Incorporated.


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.


*Awards or rankings from NerdWallet are not indicative of future success or results. This award and its ratings are independently determined and awarded by their respective publications.

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.

This article is not intended to be legal advice. Please consult an attorney for advice.

SOBK-Q224-1920411-V1

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Food Delivery Using a Checking Account for Payment

There’s nothing quite as indulgent as sitting back on your couch, remote control in hand, knowing that your favorite restaurant meal is about to show up at your doorstep. But food delivery can also, unfortunately, lead to racking up credit card debt.

One solution is to use a checking account to pay for food delivery services. Although not every platform allows you to pay directly from your bank account, there are often payment options that still let you tap the funds in your checking account. Learn more about the details below.

What Is Food Delivery?

Third-party food delivery services have revolutionized at-home dining. Gone are the days where pizza was the only option for ordering in. These days, you can get just about any meal your heart desires, all with the tap of a finger.

Third-party delivery platforms connect hungry diners with nearly endless restaurant options. The meals are typically delivered by gig-economy workers who earn income via these apps.

Some of the most popular food delivery services include:

•   Grubhub

•   Uber Eats

•   Postmates

•   DoorDash

There may be other food delivery services available in your area, including restaurants that still deliver directly. However, those options may or may not allow you to use your checking account as payment.

Get up to $300 when you bank with SoFi.

Open a SoFi Checking and Savings Account with direct deposit and get up to a $300 cash bonus. Plus, get up to 4.60% APY on your cash!


Using Checking Accounts for Payment

Not every food delivery service allows you to link directly to your banking details. You may have to do a bit of research to find a single food delivery that accepts a checking account. That said, most offer the opportunity to pay through a third-party service like PayPal, which in turn makes bank account payment possible.

As of May 2024, neither Grubhub nor DoorDash had an option to input your checking account details. Both do allow you to use a debit card, however, which works almost exactly like a checking account payment. Grubhub also offers PayPal, Venmo, and Amazon Pay linking, among others, while DoorDash links with PayPal, Venmo, and Apple Pay.

Postmates and Uber Eats both give users the option to input their bank account information, which means you can pay directly with your checking account.

Linking Bank Account to Delivery App

For the apps that do allow you to use a bank account, linking the account is usually fairly straightforward. Both Uber Eats and Postmates use a third-party platform called Link to securely connect your bank account to your food delivery app account using your regular login credentials. The data transferred is encrypted, and you can disconnect linked accounts at any time.

Some delivery services may allow you to manually link your bank account using details like the routing number and account number. In that case, you should always be sure you’re only providing your details to certified and secure parties. If you’re using a lesser-known food delivery app, do some research ahead of time to ensure it’s legit before you enter your banking details.

Recommended: Checking Account vs. Debit Card: What’s the Difference?

Benefits of Checking Account Payments

Why pay for your next plate of Pad Thai or other food delivery with your checking account? Consider the following benefits.

No Credit Card Fees for Merchants

While this one may not benefit you directly, you may be saving a small business some money. That can feel like something of a good deed. Although food delivery services have helped connect more restaurants to more at-home diners, they do usually charge the restaurant a commission fee, which can eat into already-slim profit margins.

Credit cards, too, often charge merchants a fee that can be as high as 3.5% per transaction. In short, by using your checking account, you may be offering more direct support to your favorite restaurants.

Easier to Budget Food Spending

Sometimes, the money we put on a credit card feels less than real, which is one reason it can be so easy to spiral into credit card debt. But when money is coming directly out of your checking account, it’s often a bit more tangible. Over time, using your checking account can therefore make it easier to track how much you’re really spending on food delivery each month — and stick to a budget for how much you should be spending.

May Qualify for Cash Back/Rewards

In some cases, delivery apps or your bank may offer cash back or rewards for payments made with a checking account (or debit card). Check with your bank, and review offers from the delivery apps you use for further details.

Recommended: Checking vs. Savings Accounts

Potential Risks and Drawbacks

Although there are many upsides to using a checking account to pay for your food delivery, there are some drawbacks to consider, too.

Overdraft Fees from Erroneous Charges

When you’re drawing directly from your bank account — as opposed to putting money on a credit card — you’re at more risk of overdrafting (spending more than you have in your account). Doing so can rack up pricy overdraft fees, and it’s possible even if you’re careful. Occasionally, for instance, a transaction goes through more than once, which is an error that can be easier to rectify with a credit card.

Less Fraud Protection vs Credit Cards

One good thing about credit cards: They often come with robust fraud protection and easy ways to dispute charges. In fact, many credit card issuers will actually stop a charge they feel is suspicious and prevent it from going through until they get confirmation from you that it’s legitimate. Checking account payments don’t generally have this technology, so that’s something to consider when you’re linking your account to a food delivery service.

Difficulty Disputing or Reversing Charges

As mentioned, no matter the reason for an erroneous or fraudulent charge, it can be more difficult to reverse it when it’s basically cash (as opposed to credit). You can check directly with your bank account to learn about their process for such reversals.

Tips for Safe Checking Account Use

If you are going to use your checking account to pay for your food deliveries (or anything else), follow these tips to help ensure you do so safely.

Monitor Transactions Closely

Regardless of whether you’re using it for food delivery payments, regularly checking your bank account is always a good idea. That way, you’ll see any fraudulent transactions and start the process of rectifying them quickly. Plus, you’ll simply know how much money you have at your disposal.

Adjust Spending Limits/Alerts

Some bank accounts offer built-in spending limits, or they alert you when your account gets below a certain dollar threshold. It can be easy to overdo it with food deliveries, so if you’re going to link your checking account, consider adjusting those limits and alerts accordingly.

Consider Using a Prepaid Card

If you’re trying to keep yourself to a specific budget but don’t want to link your checking account to your food delivery app — or use a credit card that you could easily rack up sky high — consider using a prepaid card instead. That way, you know exactly how much you will spend on food delivery (since amounts in excess of the prepaid limit won’t go through). What’s more, you won’t take on any of the risks associated with linking your bank account.

Alternatives To Checking Payments

As mentioned above, if the delivery service you’re using doesn’t allow you to link your bank account directly, you will likely be able to link a digital payment platform like PayPal, Cash App, or Venmo, which can facilitate direct-from-bank transfers. And most apps will allow you to input a debit card in place of a credit card.

Of course, if you go the old-school way and order directly from a restaurant, you may still be able to pay with plain old cash.

The Takeaway

Ordering food delivery is a favorite convenience of the digital age, and you can enjoy it without using your credit card. It is often possible to link to a checking account or a debit card, which pulls money directly from your checking account, to pay for the food you’ve ordered. Or you might use a digital payment service, and link that to your checking account.

Interested in opening an online bank account? When you sign up for a SoFi Checking and Savings account with direct deposit, you’ll get a competitive annual percentage yield (APY), pay zero account fees, and enjoy an array of rewards, such as access to the Allpoint Network of 55,000+ fee-free ATMs globally. Qualifying accounts can even access their paycheck up to two days early.

Better banking is here with SoFi, NerdWallet’s 2024 winner for Best Checking Account Overall.* Enjoy up to 4.60% APY on SoFi Checking and Savings.

FAQ

Can I earn rewards with checking account payments?

It’s rare to find cash back rewards or other incentives linked to payments that come directly from a checking account. However, many debit cards do offer rewards. Using this kind of card is almost exactly like paying directly from your bank account. Check with the financial institution about any rewards available.

What if a delivery never arrives?

If your meal is marked “delivered” but you don’t find it, you should be able to get help from the food delivery service itself. Most apps offer a way to contact their customer support team right from the interface.

Do all food delivery apps accept checking?

Unfortunately, not all food delivery apps allow you to directly link your checking account. However, virtually all of them allow you to use a debit card instead of a credit card, which works almost exactly the same way. In addition, many of the apps allow you to link a third-party platform like Venmo or Cash App, which can facilitate bank account payments.


Photo credit: iStock/FG Trade

SoFi® Checking and Savings is offered through SoFi Bank, N.A. ©2023 SoFi Bank, N.A. All rights reserved. Member FDIC. Equal Housing Lender.
The SoFi Bank Debit Mastercard® is issued by SoFi Bank, N.A., pursuant to license by Mastercard International Incorporated and can be used everywhere Mastercard is accepted. Mastercard is a registered trademark, and the circles design is a trademark of Mastercard International Incorporated.


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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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.

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