How to Deposit Cash at Local and Online Banks

By Sheryl Nance-Nash · February 17, 2023 · 10 minute read

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How to Deposit Cash at Local and Online Banks

Who doesn’t love depositing cash into their account and seeing that new pumped-up balance? Fortunately, there are lots of ways to conveniently add funds to your bank account.

Whether you bank at a local brick-and-mortar location or have an online account, you have options. And whether you like to do things the old-fashioned way (such as handing your money to a teller) or prefer to use newer technologies, like mobile deposit, there are ways to get your money where you want it.

Here, you’ll find a guide to the different techniques of moving money into your bank account, including:

•   Ways to deposit cash into a local bank account

•   Ways to deposit cash into an online bank account

•   How to deposit cash into an ATM

•   How long it usually takes for money you’ve deposited to become available

5 Ways to Deposit Cash in a Local Bank Account

Wondering how to put cash into your local bank account? We can help. There are numerous ways you can do this, including:

•   Direct deposit

•   Account transfer

•   External transfer

•   Wire transfer

•   Peer-to-peer transfer

Here, we’ll take a closer look at each, and, a bit later, how to use ATMs to deposit cash.

1. Using Direct Deposit

How to deposit cash into a bank account? First, consider how technology can do this without any dollar bills (or tens or twenties) changing hands. Direct deposit may be the simplest and easiest way to get cash into your bank account. Typically, how this works is you fill out a form with your banking information (such as your account and routing numbers and possibly a voided check), and then the payor, which is usually your employer or the government, can electronically transfer funds straight into your bank account. They are available for use almost instantly.

If you are paid by cash or check, however, the old-school version of “direct deposit” would involve going into your bank branches or to an in-network ATM. You can then directly deposit cash into a bank account. Since this is not an electronic process, it may take some time for the funds to be processed and cleared for your use.

2. Deposit Cash Using an Account Transfer

Let’s say you have more than one account at your bank (there are often incentives to do so, which many people take advantage of). It can be quite convenient to move money between accounts. You might complete a one-time transfer at the bank or online to shift money from savings to checking to cover a large, unexpected expense.

Perhaps you want to set up recurring automatic transfers on payday to whisk 10% of your salary into savings. Or, say you’ve accumulated a chunk of change in one account and want to open a certificate of deposit (CD) to lock in your interest rate. An account transfer could help make that happen, too.

3. External Transfer

Maybe you don’t want to keep all your eggs in one basket, so you have more than one financial institution where you keep your money. No worries if you want to move money between banks. Some financial institutions allow you to link accounts held elsewhere. The how-to’s: Complete what’s necessary to link the accounts (this can involve just inputting an account’s routing and account number), and you can easily transfer money between them.

A couple of points to look into: This process may take a bit of time and fees could possibly be charged. There might be transfer limits (that is, no more than a certain amount of money can be moved) as well. Ask for more info from the banks involved.

4. Wire Transfer

Wire transfers can electronically move funds between banks. Your bank or credit union may offer this service, or you might go to a provider like Western Union.

The good news is that wire transfers are fast, as money arrives pretty much immediately. However, whether you are sending or receiving a wire transfer, you are likely to pay a fee, which could be between $10 and $30, depending on the specific transaction and the amount of the funds being moved. (Some premium account holders may have the fees waived.) Do a little research first to avoid any surprises.

5. Peer-to-Peer Transfer

Today, many people are familiar with money-transfer apps or platforms like PayPal, Zelle, or Venmo. A friend can pay you back for their share of the dinner tab or someone who employs you as a gig worker can tap and send you your fee. How P2P transfers work is that you can receive money either directly into your account or into the money-transfer app and then transfer it to your bank account. Bills and coins aren’t changing hands in a literal way, but you can deposit cash in a bank in this way.

Worth noting: Sometimes you may pay a fee for an instantaneous financial transfer versus one that takes a day or two. There can be other costs and transaction limits involved as well, so familiarize yourself with the specifics of the platform you are thinking of using.

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4 Ways to Deposit Cash in an Online Bank Account

If your accounts are at an online bank, you may wonder how best to deposit your cash. After all, there isn’t a bricks and mortar branch to stroll into, and no one wants to mail cash. But don’t worry; you have plenty of options:

•   Mobile deposit

•   ACH transfer

•   Prepaid cards

•   Money orders

In addition, ATMs may accept your deposit, which will be explored later.

1. Using a Mobile Deposit

You can deposit your checks remotely. It’s super simple and you don’t have to leave home, which is one of the benefits of mobile deposits. All you need to do is take a picture of the front and the back of the check and deposit it via your bank’s mobile app.

2. ACH Transfer

You can also get money deposited directly into your account by what are known as ACH (or Automated Clearing House) transfers, which typically fuel direct deposits. These can be set up to go into your account on a recurring basis, too. For example, you can have your HR department deposit your paychecks into your account, and you can do the same with government benefits if you enroll in the program to get your money this way.

Explore how to set up direct deposit, as it might just be a game-changer for you if you’re not already using it. Not only do you not have to run around with a paper check to deposit, your financial institution may even give you early access to your funds.

3. Depositing Cash Using a Prepaid Card

There’s another option if your online bank account: a prepaid debit card that’s linked to your account. With a prepaid card, you can load money on it in a variety of ways. For example, you can go to participating retailers to deposit cash. Then you could transfer the money from the prepaid debit card to your linked online bank account.

But of course, there can be a downside. You may be charged fees to get the card, deposit cash, or withdraw funds. Do the math. If you don’t need to do it frequently, it might be worth it. But if you use this technique often, the additional costs might be a deal-breaker. Shop around for a card that suits your needs.

4. Using a Money Order to Deposit Cash

In certain circumstances, you might want to buy a money order and use that to move your money around. Perhaps you have a pile of single dollar bills you’d like to deposit, or you got paid in cash for helping a friend of a friend move.

A money order can be purchased at a post office or businesses like CVS and Western Union, among others. You’ll likely pay between a couple of dollars and about $5, though the fee depends on the vendor and the amount of the money order. You can mail the money order to your online bank rather than having to worry about what to do with your cash. Just double-check that the bank accepts money orders for deposits.

Recommended: How to Send and Receive Money From Someone Without a Bank Account

Can You Deposit Cash in an ATM?

Here’s another way to deposit cash into a bank account: by using an ATM. Most ATMs accept cash, though a few do not. Check with your bank or look carefully at the ATM you are planning to use to see whether a cash deposit is an option. You might also want to see how long it typically takes for funds to clear when using this technique.

Points to know:

•   If you bank at a local brick-and-mortar financial institution, you may have no problem depositing money into your account this way.

•   If you keep your account at an online bank, you may need to use an in-network machine to deposit cash at an ATM.

Be sure, however, that you know your financial institution’s policies when you make a deposit at an ATM. Unlike an in-person deposit where your money is typically available immediately, your funds may not be available right away with an ATM deposit (especially if it’s not your bank’s ATM).

Quick Money Tip: If you’re saving for a short-term goal — whether it’s a vacation, a wedding, or the down payment on a house — consider opening a high-yield savings account. The higher APY that you’ll earn will help your money grow faster, but the funds stay liquid, so they are easy to access when you reach your goal.

When Does a Deposit Typically Appear in Your Account?

There can be a variation in how long a direct deposit takes as well as other kinds of deposits. Know, however, that federal law establishes the maximum length of time a bank or credit union can make you wait.

Some specifics:

•   Cash, as you might guess, tends to clear most quickly. If deposited in person to your checking or savings account, it may become available the same day or the next day. If you deposit it to an ATM in your bank’s network, it could be available immediately or within a day if you use a no-envelope machine. However, it might take until the second business day to clear; if you use an out-of-network ATM, that can take five business days.

•   The typical time period for checks and money orders to clear is between two and five days. According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), generally, if you deposit a check or checks for $225 or less in person to a bank employee, you can access the full amount the next business day. If you deposit checks totaling more than $225, you can access $225 the next business day, and the rest of the money the second business day.

   However, if you deposit a certified check, a check from another account at your bank or credit union, or a check from the government, the full amount should be available on the next business day.

Knowing these timeframes can be very helpful as you stay on top of your money and work to make sure you know your approximate balance and don’t bounce any checks.

Recommended: How to Transfer Money From One Bank to Another

The Takeaway

There are many options in terms of depositing cash into your bank account, whether you use a traditional or online bank. You’ll find options from going to a brick-and-mortar branch to using an ATM to mobile and ACH deposits and more. The timeframes for all of these deposits will vary, so check your bank’s policies. You want to be sure you don’t draw on your funds before they are fully available. It’s an important move to keep your account in good standing and avoid the fees many banks charge for overdrafts.

Hate fees? Want access to your money faster? We hear you. Why not open an online bank account with SoFi? We offer all kinds of perks for those who sign up with direct deposit. You’ll earn a competitive annual percentage yield (APY) and pay no account fees, which can help your money grow faster. Plus you’ll have access to the global Allpoint Network of no-fee ATMs, and qualifying accounts get paycheck access up to two days early.

Better banking is here with up to 4.20% APY on SoFi Checking and Savings.

Photo credit: iStock/JoeLena

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