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How to Deposit Cash at Local and Online Banks

By Sheryl Nance-Nash · June 11, 2022 · 9 minute read

We’re here to help! First and foremost, SoFi Learn strives to be a beneficial resource to you as you navigate your financial journey. Read more We develop content that covers a variety of financial topics. Sometimes, that content may include information about products, features, or services that SoFi does not provide. We aim to break down complicated concepts, loop you in on the latest trends, and keep you up-to-date on the stuff you can use to help get your money right. Read less

How to Deposit Cash at Local and Online Banks

One thing that’s so satisfying is putting money into your bank account. Despite the cryptocurrency craze and talk of a cashless society, holding and keeping cash is still king. But you may be wondering, how exactly can I get my money into an account? These days, with all the mobile transactions and multiple account types, it can get a little confusing.

So let us help you know all the ways you can deposit cash in your bank account. Here, we’ll review the different tactics for putting your money in traditional and online banks, and provide other guidance on bank deposits, like how long they take to clear. Ready? Here we go!

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.

1. Using Direct Deposit

Direct deposit is by far the simplest and easiest way to get cash into your bank account. All you have to do is visit your bank branch, fill out a deposit slip, hand the slip and your money to the teller, and be on your way.

If the bank is closed, or you want to avoid standing in a long line indoors, you can deposit cash at an ATM. You likely won’t need to fill out a deposit slip at the ATM because the computer can read the check or count the cash and then electronically credit the account associated with the ATM card.

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). Also, some ATM’s don’t accept cash deposits. So inquire before you make your deposit.

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 transfer money from savings to checking to cover a large, unexpected expense. Or 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 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.

4. Wire Transfer

Wire transfers may sound old-fashioned, but they are still an effective way to transfer funds. Say someone needs to send you money, but you don’t bank with the same financial institution. They can do a wire transfer from their bank to yours using providers like Western Union.

The good news is that wire transfers are fast, as money arrives pretty much immediately. The downside is that you have to share your bank account information, which can give you cause for concern if you don’t know the person you’re dealing with. Also, wire transfers charge the sender a fee, which may vary on factors such as whether you’re sending/receiving domestically or internationally. The person sending you the funds could want to deduct the fee from the money they are sending your way. And banks may charge fees related to wire transfers as well, so again, do a little research first to avoid any surprises.

5. Peer-to-Peer Transfer

Decades ago there were no money-transfer apps or platforms like PayPal, Zelle, or Venmo. Today, we have many ways to move money around with these tools, whether that means a friend paying you back for their share of the dinner tab or someone who employs you as a gig worker sending you your fee. The way these platforms 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.

Worth noting: Sometimes you may pay a fee for an instantaneous 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. One is to find an in-network ATM. Find out what network of ATMs your online bank is part of, and you can then deposit cash in one of those ATMs. Be sure to keep your receipt until the money surfaces in your account so you’re sure everything went through properly.

That’s not always convenient, though, so let’s consider some other options:

•   Mobile deposit

•   ACH transfer

•   Prepaid cards

•   Money orders

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. 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.

3. Depositing Cash Using a Prepaid Card

There’s another option if your online bank account isn’t part of an ATM network: 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 have to do this 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

If all else fails, go old school, and buy a money order. You get one from the post office or businesses like CVS and Western Union, among others. You’ll likely pay about $5, though the fee depends on the amount of the money order. You can mail the money order to your online bank. Just double-check that the bank accepts money orders for deposits.

Can You Deposit Cash in an ATM?

Yes, you can. Many 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.

When Does a Deposit Typically Appear in Your Account?

Every financial institution has its own rules about how long a direct deposit takes. Know, however, that federal law establishes the maximum length of time a bank or credit union can make you wait.

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 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 $200 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 $200, you can access $225 the next business day, and the rest of the money the second business day.

Here are a few nice exceptions involving in-person deposits at your bank. 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.

The amount of time a bank or credit union holds funds you deposit by check is sometimes referred to as a “deposit hold” or “check hold.” Some banks or credit unions may make funds available more quickly than the law requires, and some may expedite funds for a fee. If you need the money from a particular check, you can ask the teller or a customer service representative when the funds will become available. A receipt showing your deposit does not mean that the money is available for you to use.

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.

The Takeaway

There are many options in terms of depositing cash into your bank account these days, whether you use a traditional or online bank. You’ll find options from going to a bricks 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. Open an online bank account with SoFi – we offer all kinds of perks for those who sign up with direct deposit. Not only will you get access to your paycheck up to two days early, you’ll also enjoy fee-free banking. That means no monthly charges, no minimum-balance fees, and we’ll even cover up to $50 in overdraft without charging you. Plus we have a network of 55,000 fee-free ATMs.

Better banking is here with up to 3.75% APY on SoFi Checking and Savings.


Can you deposit cash into someone else’s bank account?

Some banks allow you to deposit cash into someone else’s bank account, provided you know their full name and their account number. Other banks will not allow you to do so, due to concerns about fraud. It’s wise to check these policies prior to heading to a bank branch with cash.

When does the money I deposit reflect?

It depends on the bank, but in-person deposits can be reflected immediately. Other types of methods, like your bank’s ATM, may take up to two business days to hit your account. Use an out-of-network ATM, and it might take five business days.

How do you deposit large amounts of cash?

Large amounts of cash can be deposited in person at a bank branch, taking all possible security precautions. You want to be sure the money is accurately counted and safe. If your account is at an online bank, investigate how you might do a mobile deposit of a check. Know that if you deposit more than $10,000, the financial institution is required to report it to the Treasury Department.

Is there a fee to deposit cash at a bank?

Most banks do not charge a fee for a deposit. A few are charging fees if you conduct a transaction with a teller rather than via a self-service method. If you bank at one of those, you may want to shop around for a fee-free option.

Can you deposit cash without going to the bank?

Yes, you can deposit cash without setting foot inside a branch. You can do so at many ATMs or you can make a deposit via a mobile deposit app using your cell phone, peer-to-peer platforms, and other options.

SoFi® Checking and Savings is offered through SoFi Bank, N.A. ©2022 SoFi Bank, N.A. All rights reserved. Member FDIC. Equal Housing Lender.
SoFi members with direct deposit can earn up to 3.75% annual percentage yield (APY) interest on Savings account balances (including Vaults) and up to 2.50% APY on Checking account balances. There is no minimum direct deposit amount required to qualify for these rates. Members without direct deposit will earn 1.20% APY on all account balances in Checking and Savings (including Vaults). Interest rates are variable and subject to change at any time. These rates are current as of 12/16/2022. Additional information can be found at http://www.sofi.com/legal/banking-rate-sheet
Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.

Photo credit: iStock/JoeLena

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