Guide To Depositing a Check

By Sarah Li Cain · June 25, 2024 · 7 minute read

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Guide To Depositing a Check

They may seem old-fashioned compared to digital payment methods, but checks are still very much a part of many people’s financial lives. In fact, there are a whopping 14.5 billion checks circulating every year in the U.S.

If you receive checks, you have options in terms of how to deposit them, including in person at a bank, at an ATM, or via a mobile app. Here’s what you need to know about the different methods for depositing a check and the easiest way to get the job done.

How To Deposit a Check in 5 Steps

Typically, depositing a check involves these five simple steps (unless of course you automate the process with direct deposit). Follow these guidelines to successfully get a check into your bank account where you can then use it.

1. Select Your Preferred Method

Your financial institution may have different ways you can deposit a check, including in person, at an ATM, or through their mobile app. The method you choose will affect the specifics of what you need to do to deposit your check. If you choose to go in person, double check the bank’s open hours. For mobile apps, you will need to download the app. Most ATMs will let you deposit a check as long as the machine is in your bank’s network.

2. Gather What You Need

Aside from your paper check, the exact type of documentation you’ll need will depend on how you go about depositing a check:

•   In person: This procedure can vary depending on your financial institution. At some banks, you may be able to use your debit card at a teller’s window to deposit a check, no deposit slip required.

In other cases, you may need to get and fill out a deposit slip. This piece of paper outlines how much you want to deposit and to which account. Information you will need to fill out includes your name, account number, and deposit amount. In many cases, banks may also need to see a government-issued photo ID when you make the deposit.

•   Mobile app: You will need to log into your bank’s mobile app on your device. Be prepared to take a photo of the front and back of the check. Typically taking a photo against a dark background helps the app take a clearer photo.

•   ATM: When heading to the ATM, you’ll need your debit card. Check to see if the ATM accepts check deposits for your financial institution. Also, a few ATMs still require that checks be put into envelopes (provided at the machine) for deposit.

3. Endorse Your Check

Endorsing your check means to sign your name on the back of it in the appropriate place (it typically says “Endorse here” or provides a line to sign on). You can write “for deposit only” on the back when making a deposit so that the money can only go to your account.

Some checks also have a box you can tick if you’re making a mobile deposit. Or your bank may request that mobile deposit checks are endorsed with your name and a phrase like, “for electronic deposit at [bank]” or “for mobile deposit at [bank].”

4. Confirm Deposit Amount

If you deposit a check in person, you may need to indicate the amount on the deposit slip. If you’re using your bank’s mobile app, you may have to enter in the payment amount of your check. Same goes if you deposit it at an ATM.

Before confirming your deposit, make sure you have indicated the correct information. Being even one digit off from your account number, for example, could result in delays to access the funds you’ve deposited.

5. Wait for Confirmation

Once you’ve successfully deposited a check in person, the bank teller may give you a confirmation slip reflecting the transaction or you can request one. You can also check your bank’s website or app to see the pending deposit.

With mobile deposits, you may receive a pop-up confirmation message or an email acknowledging receipt of the check. Some banks may show the pending transaction in the app right away.

At an ATM, you usually receive a receipt of the transaction. Hang onto this piece of paper until you confirm that the deposit has indeed been posted to your account.

In terms of how long it will take for the check to deposit and be cleared, that will vary depending on such factors as how you deposited it, the amount, and the bank it’s drawn on. It could take between one and several days.

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Ways of Depositing a Check

When it comes to depositing a check, the method you choose will depend on what your bank offers and what feels most convenient for you.

In Person

Though not always convenient, you can take your check to your local bank and deposit it into your account. (Worth noting: Some banks may allow you to cash checks without an account there, but you may have to pay a fee.)

Mobile App

Many banks and credit unions offer mobile apps for their customers. A popular feature is mobile check deposit, which allows you to snap a photo of the check with your device and deposit it remotely…no trip to a bank or ATM required.

ATM

Traditional and some online-only banks offer the convenience of depositing a check at an ATM, whether to your checking or savings account. Read your account’s fine print or contact customer service to see if this needs to be at an ATM in your bank’s network.

💡 Quick Tip: Want a new checking account that offers more access to your money? With 55,000+ ATMs in the Allpoint network, you can get cash when and where you choose.

Keeping Safety in Mind When Depositing Checks

No matter which method you choose, it’s important to be safe when depositing checks. Keep these safety tips in mind:

•   One key step is to make sure a check is valid and comes from a legitimate source. If you’re not expecting a payment and receive a check in the mail, you’re not wrong to be suspicious. It could be part of a scam. The same holds true for checks you were expecting but that arrive for a higher amount of money than you anticipated.

•   If you want to verify a check, or see if it’s legitimate, hold the check up to the light to see if there are any watermarks (which are a good thing) or if there’s any evidence that it’s been tampered with (a bad thing). In addition, get a feel for the paper the check is printed on; if it feels thin, like the paper you put in a printer, it may be fraudulent.

•   Checks also have a safety feature called an MICR (magnetic ink character recognition) line. Located at the bottom of the check, this usually shows details like the issuing bank’s routing number. The ink should look flat and dull. If it looks shiny when you hold it under the light, it may be a fake check.

Think you have a fake check in hand? Talk to your bank about how to proceed, and you may want to report it to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) or the Better Business Bureau (BBB), which has a Scam Tracker department.

One last suggestion: You might also keep in mind that mobile deposit and even direct deposit (bypassing checks altogether) are often good options in terms of safety. These techniques can be preferable to looking for a bank branch or ATM that can accept your check, especially at night or in bad weather.

Recommended: Cashier’s Check vs Certified Check

The Takeaway

Depositing a check typically involves five simple steps: Select a deposit method, gather materials, endorse the check, confirm its amount, and be sure that it’s hit your account.

While checks are a common, time-honored way to receive funds, you have plenty of options today to send and receive money. Check out what different banks offer (and how much services cost) to make sure you have the right banking partner for you.

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 deposit a check into your account?

You can deposit a check in your account either in person, through your bank’s mobile app, or at an ATM. Once you decide on a method, you gather what you need, endorse the check, confirm its amount, and receive acknowledgement that it’s in your account.

How do you deposit a check at an ATM?

You can deposit a check at an ATM by going to a machine that will accept your deposit — your bank may stipulate which ones are acceptable. Insert your debit card and enter the correct PIN number, then follow the prompts to deposit your check.

How do you deposit a check without going to the bank?

You can deposit a check without going to the bank by doing it through your bank’s mobile app or at an ATM.


Photo credit: iStock/AndreyPopov

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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.

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