How Long Does a Direct Deposit Take to Go Through?

By Julia Califano · August 05, 2022 · 8 minute read

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How Long Does a Direct Deposit Take to Go Through?

Is there anything worse than waiting for a check to clear? If you can relate to that (awful) feeling, it’s likely that you love direct deposit. It can be a huge convenience when you’re getting paid or otherwise receiving funds. This process often transfers money into your account almost instantaneously.

No paper checks are ever issued. The money is transferred electronically, and you can typically access that money on that same day — sometimes even before your scheduled payday.

Even with all of the financial tech available at your fingertips, like online banking and mobile apps, it can still be a drag to deposit a check.

Whether it’s trying to take a clear photo of the front and back to submit to the bank, which will deposit it pending review, or physically bringing it into a branch, these hassles are easily avoided by signing up for direct deposit.

Read on to learn more about direct deposit, including:

•   How does direct deposit work?

•   How do you set up direct deposit?

•   How long does direct deposit take?

•   What are the advantages of direct deposit?

How Does Direct Deposit Work?

Direct deposit allows someone to electronically send money from their bank or financial institution directly into someone else’s.

The money is sent via the Automated Clearing House (ACH) network, which transfers money between banks and financial institutions.

ACH transfers eliminate the need to send physical checks or cash. These transfers can also happen almost instantaneously because they’re digital and you don’t need to worry about things like proving that a check is legitimate. That means direct deposit can be faster and more convenient.

Most employers now offer direct deposit as an option, and, in some states, even require it. Employers typically find direct deposit convenient because they can process payroll much faster without having to deal with issuing, signing, and mailing checks.

Direct deposit is a popular way to get your paycheck, but that isn’t the only use. It may also be the way you get a tax refund, Social Security benefits, unemployment benefits, investment-related dividends, as well as other payments.

Recommended: How Long Does It Take a Mobile Deposit to Clear?

How Do You Set Up Direct Deposit?

Setting up direct deposit is likely to be very simple — and fast. If you’re wondering how long it takes to set up direct deposit, all you have to do is fill out a direct deposit authorization form. Typically, this just takes a few minutes, provided you have the right information on hand (such as bank account and routing numbers; more on that below).

This usually happens on your first day of work, but you can often choose direct deposit or change your information later on. Some companies handle this process entirely online and some use a third party to sign you up.

When setting up a direct deposit, especially at a new job, you’ll want to remember to have the following information available to make it as simple as possible:

•   Your bank account number(s) and type of account

•   Bank routing number

•   Bank name and address

•   Whether your putting money in a checking or savings account

•   How much of your paycheck you want to deposit in the account (you may want to split the deposit; read on for details)

•   A blank, void personal check

Much of this information can all be found on a personal check, by checking your banking website or app, or by contacting your financial institution directly.

Splitting Your Direct Deposit

If you want to split your paycheck between multiple accounts, you can typically add each account to the direct deposit form and specify how much of your pay should go into each. Most forms ask what percentage of your pay goes into each, instead of just a dollar value. You may need to fill out a new form for each account.

For example, you might designate a set amount of money to move automatically into whatever kind of savings account you have, while leaving what you know you’ll need in checking for bills and smaller payments.

It’s up to you, of course, to determine how much of your paycheck to save; many financial experts recommend 10%.

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How Long Does It Take to Get Direct Deposit?

Signing up for direct deposit can be done in minutes. However, it may not take effect for a few weeks or even more because the payor has to confirm your bank account information.

With your employer, direct deposit may take one or two pay cycles to become active. During that time, you may receive a paper check as payment instead.

In some cases, an employer may hire an employee at the start of the pay cycle so that the direct deposit authorization process is done just in time for the new employee to receive his or her first payment via direct deposit.

Recommended: What to Do If Your Check Is Lost or Stolen?

Is Direct Deposit Instantaneous?

How long does it take direct deposit to actually go through? Exactly when you will have access to your direct deposit income will depend on the entity issuing the funds and perhaps your financial institution that receives the funds.

For example, if your employer uses payroll software to process your paycheck and send the transfer, they’ll set a pay date, which might be a day or two before your regular payday.

That’s the date the funds will be transferred into your bank account, and you can typically access the funds by the end of that day.

That said, other direct deposits may process on a different timeline. The funds could take one to three days to become available. To learn how long direct deposits take to post to your account, you can contact your bank directly, or watch to see what time of day the first few direct deposits come into your account.

Advantages of Direct Deposit

Receiving your paycheck or other income via direct deposit can simplify your life.

You won’t have to worry about waiting for a check or making time to take the check to the bank for deposit. And, you typically have access to your money sooner, since you don’t have to wait for a check to clear.

Direct deposit also makes it easier to stay on top of your personal finances because you know exactly when money is coming into your account.

This accuracy can help you manage your money and work towards short-term financial goals, such as paying all your bills on time or saving for an upcoming expense.

If you know when you have access to your paycheck, for example, it’s possible to schedule your other bills or an automatic transfer to your savings account soon after the direct deposit is scheduled.

Other advantages of direct deposit include:

•   Your bank might waive your account maintenance fee if you receive regular direct deposits.

•   It reduces the risk of check fraud or identity theft from a lost or stolen check.

•   You can’t lose or misplace the funds.

•   Electronic records don’t clutter draws or fill file cabinets.

•   You can easily track your paychecks and make sure none have been missed, since there is an electronic record of each payment in one place.

The Takeaway

Direct deposits are a convenient, electronic way to receive funds. This process is typically used when an employer, government agency, or other third party instructs its financial institution to digitally deposit funds into your spending or savings account on a specific date.

Direct deposit eliminates the hassle of depositing paper checks and, once the funds are transferred into your bank account, they are available to you, often almost instantaneously.

Direct deposit can make it easier to keep track of your finances, pay bills on time, and avoid negative balances and overdraft fees.

Looking for more ways to simplify your financial life? Consider opening a bank account online with SoFi. When you open our Checking and Savings with direct deposit, you can earn a hyper competitive up to 3.00% APY — and never have to worry about fees or overdraft charges. Plus eligible account holders have access to their paycheck up to two days early.

Sign up with SoFi: It’s the smarter way to bank.

3 Great Benefits of Direct Deposit

  1. It’s Faster
  2. As opposed to a physical check that can take time to clear, you don’t have to wait days to access a direct deposit. Usually, you can use the money the day it is sent. What’s more, you don’t have to remember to go to the bank or use your app to deposit your check.

  3. It’s Like Clockwork
  4. Whether your check comes the first Wednesday of the month or every other Friday, if you sign up for direct deposit, you know when the money will hit your account. This is especially helpful for scheduling the payment of regular bills. No more guessing when you’ll have sufficient funds.

  5. It’s Secure
  6. While checks can get lost in the mail — or even stolen, there is no chance of that happening with a direct deposit. Also, if it’s your paycheck, you won’t have to worry about your or your employer’s info ending up in the wrong hands.


Is direct deposit instant?

While direct deposit is intended to be instantaneous, the exact timeline will vary with who is sending you the money and the system they use to transfer funds. It could take one to three days to clear.

Why hasn’t my direct deposit hit yet?

Direct deposit funds are often available almost instantaneously, but sometimes the transfer takes longer to go through and be processed by the receiving bank. Direct deposits can take between one and three days. Contact your bank and/or the payor if your funds have not arrived when due.

Why does direct deposit take 2 days?

While direct deposits are often available immediately, in other cases the funds can take a couple of days to hit your account and be accessed. This may be due to the software the payor is using or your bank’s way of processing and clearing the direct deposit.

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SoFi members with direct deposit can earn up to 4.20% annual percentage yield (APY) interest on Savings account balances (including Vaults) and up to 1.20% 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 4/25/2023. There is no minimum balance requirement. Additional information can be found at
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