How Long Does It Take for a Deposited Check to Clear?

By Sarah Li Cain · June 25, 2024 · 5 minute read

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How Long Does It Take for a Deposited Check to Clear?

Despite the increasing popularity of digital payments, you may still receive the occasional paper check. The good news: You’ve come into some money. The not-so-good news: It may take a day or two (possibly even longer) before you can actually access those funds.

The time it takes for a check to clear can vary depending on several factors, including the type of check, the amount, and the bank’s policies. Understanding the check-clearing process can help you better manage your finances and avoid overdrafting your account.

How Long Does It Take for a Check To Clear?

After you deposit a check into your checking account (or savings account), it typically takes one or two business days before the funds are fully available for you to use.

When you deposit a personal check, banks are generally required to make at least the first $225 available to you by the next business day. The remainder of the funds are usually available by the second business day to make sure the check doesn’t bounce. However, there are situations where the bank has the right to extend the hold. These include:

•   The bank has reason to suspect fraud.

•   You are re-depositing a check that has already been deposited.

•   You’ve deposited more than $5,525 by check in one day (the hold will only be for the amount that exceeds $5,525).

•   The receiving account is new (less than 30 days old) or has been repeatedly overdrawn.

•   The check is from a foreign bank.

Recommended: Check vs Direct Deposit

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Can You Speed Up the Time It Takes for a Check To Clear?

While each bank has its own policies as to how long it takes a check to clear, there are some tactics you can try to help speed things up.

•   Deposit the check in person: If you deposit a check at a branch instead of using an ATM or your bank’s mobile deposit feature, you may be able to access your funds faster. Depositing a check at an ATM owned by another financial institution, on the other hand, could delay the process.

•   Time it right: If you deposit a check on a business day before the institution’s cut-off time, you won’t have to wait until the next business day for your bank to start processing the check. Cut-off times vary by institution but can’t be earlier than 2 p.m. for a branch deposit. Mobile deposit cut-off times are generally later — sometimes 8 p.m. or 9 p.m.

•   Sign up for direct deposit: If your employer offers direct deposit, enrolling in the program will typically allow you to access your paycheck sooner. Banks and credit unions are legally required to clear direct-deposited funds the next business day after they receive them. However, some institutions clear direct-deposit funds right away.

•   Choose a bank that offers quick check-clearing services: When searching for a new bank account, you may want to compare different banks’ policies regarding how quickly they clear checks. Some banks may advertise same-day availability of funds for deposits made in-branch, among other benefits.

What Affects the Speed at Which the Check Clears?

How long it takes for a check to clear depends on multiple factors. These include:

•   Your bank’s policy: Each bank and credit union has its own policies and procedures for clearing checks, which can vary.

•   When you deposit the check: In most cases, banks won’t process a check during weekends and holidays. If you deposit a check on a Saturday at an ATM or via mobile deposit, for example, the bank won’t begin processing the check until Monday or, if Monday is a holiday, on Tuesday.

•   The check’s amount: Larger checks may take longer to clear than smaller checks, as banks may place a hold on the funds to ensure they are legitimate.

•   Your account status: Banks may have longer holding times if your bank account is new, or you’ve overdrawn on it repeatedly.

•   Type of check: Personal checks typically take longer to clear than certified checks, cashier’s checks, and checks from government agencies. Checks from the same financial institution also tend to clear faster than checks from a different institution.

Recommended: What Would Happen if I Deposited $10,000 Into My Bank Account?

Can Banks Delay or Hold Your Check and Prevent It From Clearing?

Yes, banks have a right to hold your check or keep it from clearing if it suspects that the check is fraudulent or that the account holder is engaging in suspicious activity. They can also hold a check if the account from which the check was drawn does not have sufficient funds to cover the check amount.

The Takeaway

Typically, a check should be processed and clear within one or two business days. However, certain factors — like depositing a check after a bank’s cut-off time, exceeding $5,525 in check deposits in one day, and depositing a check at an ATM not owned by your bank — can lead to a longer processing time.

It’s a good idea to become familiar with your bank’s policies regarding how long it takes for a check to become available for use. This will help you avoid overdrafting your account and getting hit with any unexpected fees.

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.


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FAQ

How long does a check deposit take to show up?

The time it takes for a check deposit to show up in your account can vary depending on the bank’s policies and the type of check. In general, funds from a check deposit will be available the next business day, but some banks may hold the funds for a longer period, especially for large or out-of-state checks.

Do banks deposit checks instantly?

No, banks do not deposit checks instantly. When you deposit a check, the bank needs to verify the check’s authenticity and ensure that the payer has sufficient funds to cover the check amount. This process typically takes one or two business days, though it can sometimes take longer.

How long can a bank put a hold on a check?

According to rules set by the Federal Reserve, banks must make the first $225 of a check available the next business day. Amounts over $225 (up to $5,525) must be made available within two business days after the deposit. For check amounts of $5,525 or more, the bank generally should make the money accessible by the seventh business day after the deposit.


Photo credit: iStock/Jacob Wackerhausen

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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