February 16, 2024

Mobile Check Deposits: Banking at Your Fingertips

Paper checks might seem outdated — but they’re still a great way to transfer money or pay bills securely. And with mobile check deposits, you don’t even have to visit a bank to use them.

Most banks let you deposit paper checks on your phone, using the camera to verify the information. This service not only simplifies the process but also enhances financial security because your check goes straight from your hands into your account.

Here’s everything you need to know about depositing checks on your phone, plus tips to make sure your money goes through.

What is a mobile check deposit?

Mobile check deposit, also known as remote deposit capture, is a process that lets you deposit checks into your bank account using a mobile device. Usually, this happens through a bank’s app, which photographs the front and back of a paper check and deposits it instantly. In most cases, you also have to manually input the amount.

This service combines the ease of using a cell phone with advanced encryption for security, making banking more convenient and safe. And like depositing checks at the bank, the transaction goes through a rigorous process to verify the information and make sure your money is received safely.

What types of checks can I deposit using mobile check deposit?

While mobile deposits typically accommodate a wide range of checks, the acceptance of certain check types can vary between banks. Talk to your banking institution to learn what it includes and excludes so you don’t waste time trying to upload an invalid check.

For a clearer understanding, look at a mobile deposit check sample from your bank or financial institution. This will give you an idea of the types of checks it typically accepts and what they need to include — like the date, name, or transit number — to go through.

Here's a general breakdown of what you can and can’t deposit:

Accepted checks

-Personal checks, which come from someone else’s personal checking account.

-Business checks, which are issued by a business or corporation, like your employer.

-Government checks, which are from federal, state, or local government agencies.

-Cashier's checks, which come from a bank on behalf of a payer.

Unaccepted checks

-Undated checks that are missing a written date.

-Old or postdated checks with a date that’s over six months old or in the future.

-Third-party checks, which are payable to someone other than you or the joint account holder.

-Checks payable to cash, which lack a specific payee name.

-Traveler’s checks, which are special checks used by travelers as a secure alternative to carrying money.

-Money orders, which are similar to checks, but you have to buy and deposit them in person.

-Foreign checks from a bank outside of the United States.

How to mobile deposit a check

Depositing a mobile check is usually a seamless experience, but knowing how to do it beforehand can help you avoid roadblocks. Always follow your bank's specific guidelines and best practices for a smooth and secure transaction.

Here's a step-by-step guide to depositing a check with your phone:

1. Download your bank’s mobile app. Access your bank's official mobile app. Make sure you have a registered bank account and are using the latest version of the banking app to avoid glitches.

2. Endorse the back of the check. If you’re depositing on someone else’s behalf, they’ll have to endorse the check for mobile deposit by signing the back in the designated area. The same goes for if someone’s depositing a check for you — you’ll have to sign it to show the bank you’ve approved the transaction. Some banks may also require you to write "For mobile deposit only" below your signature.

3. Photograph the check. Navigate to the mobile deposit section in the app. It’ll prompt you to take or upload photos of the front and back. Make sure the images are clear and all essential details, including the check number, payee name, amount, and signature, are visible. You might have to take the pictures a few times to get it right.

4. Review the details. After capturing the images, the app will ask you to confirm the check's amount and other information. Double-check that everything is accurate before proceeding.

5. Verify and deposit. Once you submit, the bank will verify the details and process the money — just like they do with regular deposits. This may involve some waiting time, but most banks will confirm once the deposit is successful.

6. Keep the check for a few weeks. Retain the physical paper for a specified period, which is usually 14–30 days. That’s just in case there’s a problem and the bank needs to see the check again. After this period, you can securely shred or dispose of it.

5 tips for using mobile check deposit

Mobile check deposit is undoubtedly a game-changer in convenient baking. But to make the most of this service and have smooth transactions, here are some essential tips to remember:

1. Know mobile check deposit limits. Most banks have daily and monthly limits for mobile deposits. Look them up first to avoid transaction issues. If you have an amount that exceeds the limit, you should visit a physical branch or use an ATM.

2. Be clear about fund availability. Mobile deposits usually offer quick processing, but the funds may not be available immediately. Different banks have varying policies on when you can actually access the money. Some might be a minute, and some might be a week. Always check your bank's policy to plan your transactions accordingly.

3. Take good pictures. If your pictures aren’t clear, the bank can’t process your money. Make sure you're in a well-lit area to capture a clear image and lie the paper on a flat surface to avoid shadows or distortions.

4. Check your receipt. You'll receive a confirmation or receipt after depositing. Review this to make sure all details are correct, and contact your bank if not.

5. Regularly update your app. Banks often release updates for their mobile apps, so make sure you're using the latest version for optimal performance and security. Otherwise, you might run into glitches during the deposit.

How long does a mobile check deposit take?

The processing time for mobile check deposits can vary based on the bank and the time of deposit. Here's a general overview of these factors:

-Immediate verification. Once you submit a check for mobile deposit, the bank's system quickly verifies the details. This usually happens within minutes.

-Fund availability. While the verification might be instant, the funds may take time to enter your account. Again, check your bank’s standards so you know what to expect.

-Business days and cut-off times. Deposits you make before a bank's cut-off time (often around 5 PM local time) are usually processed the same day. Deposits made after this time might go through the following business day.

-Weekends and holidays. Remember that weekends and bank holidays can affect the processing time. A check you deposit on a Saturday might only go through on the next business day.

-Hold periods. In some cases, banks might place a hold on the deposited funds, especially for large amounts. During this hold period, the funds won't be accessible.

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Please note, the material collected in this post is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be relied upon as or construed as advice regarding any specific circumstances. Nor is it an endorsement of any organization or services.

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