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How Long It Takes a Check to Clear

When a check clears, it means that the funds have moved from the payer’s bank to the payee’s bank, and usually, the funds become available to the payee not long after.

The time it takes for a check to clear depends on whether your account is in good standing and how long you’ve been a customer of the bank. Most types of checks clear within two business days, though some banks and credit unions are speedier (see a list of banks that clear checks faster). Usually, the first $200 of a check is made available the business day after the bank receives the check.

A business day is a weekday that isn’t a bank holiday. For any deposit, the clock starts ticking on the business day a check is received, before the institution’s cutoff time. It varies by the bank, but for checks deposited at physical locations, the bank’s cutoff time must be 2 p.m. or later; for those deposited at ATMs or elsewhere, the bank’s cutoff must be noon or later. Here’s an example of the two-day standard:

ThursdayDay of deposit: You deposit a $1,000 check.
FridayFirst business day: $200 of the check is available.
MondaySecond business day: The rest of the check ($800) is available.

Cashier’s and government checks, along with checks drawn on the same financial institution that holds your account, usually clear faster, often within one business day.

Why Might a Check Take Longer to Clear?

In some cases, checks can be held for up to seven business days. For instance, if you deposited on a Monday, the check might take until Wednesday of the following week. Delays usually happen because:

1-You’re depositing a large amount in checks — generally more than $5,500 — in a single day.

2-Your account has been open for less than 30 days.

3-Your account has had repeated overdrafts in the past six months.

4-Your bank believes the check won’t be paid, for whatever reason.

Your bank or credit union should inform you if it’s holding your check for an extended time. If you’re unsure when the money will be available, check the deposit receipt or ask the teller if you’re depositing in person. Even with a hold, generally, the first $200 of a check is credited to your account after one business day, so you can have earlier access to at least some of your money.

So What’s the Holdup?

To cash a check, your bank or credit union needs to get the money from the payer’s checking account. If the account is with another financial institution, the check is usually sent to a clearinghouse that takes care of the request.

The process can take a few days. If the check isn’t considered “risky” — it’s less than $5,525, your bank account has been open for more than 30 days, there isn’t a history of multiple overdrafts, and there’s no reason to believe the check is fraudulent — your financial institution may choose to credit your account before the check technically clears.

If it later discovers the check can’t be cleared — for example, because the payer’s account is overdrawn — your institution could deduct the money from your account. Make sure to read your deposit agreement and disclosure forms for your institution’s policies.

Banks and Credit Unions That Clear Checks Fast

Some banks and credit unions release funds quicker than the standard two-day period. Here are some of the larger institutions that provide same-day or next-business-day availability for personal checks. This assumes the checks aren’t being held for one of the reasons mentioned earlier.

Bank of America3.0NerdWallet rating Generally next business day up to $5,525. Cutoff times are when the branch closes and 8 p.m. local time for ATMs. Cutoff times for mobile deposits are 9 p.m. Eastern time if you’re in the Eastern and Central time zones or 8 p.m. Pacific if you’re in the Mountain or Pacific zones.
Capital One 3604.5NerdWallet rating Next business day up to $5,525. The cutoff is branch closing, or 9 p.m. Eastern time, for Capital One ATMs.
Citi4.0NerdWallet rating Next business day for up to $225. Business day cutoff time is 10:30 p.m. Eastern time for all ATMs.
Consumers Credit Union3.5NerdWallet rating Same-day availability for in-branch deposits made during regular business hours.For Consumers Credit ATMs, the first $225 of the deposit is available on the next business day and the rest after the seventh business day. Non-consumers ATM deposits may take up to five business days.
PNC Bank4.0NerdWallet rating Same-day availability for the first $100, and next business day for the remaining amount, up to $50,000.The cutoff is 10 p.m. Eastern time for mobile deposits and PNC Bank ATMs, 3 p.m. Eastern time for non-PNC ATMs, and branch closing hours for in-person deposits.
Wells Fargo3.5NerdWallet rating Same day for up to the first $400 if deposited at a branch or a Wells Fargo ATM. Cutoff time varies by branch but is generally 9 p.m. local time for ATMs.

Alternatives to Checks

The time it takes for a check to clear depends on the check itself and the status of the bank account. But typically, it’s a matter of days, not minutes.

Direct deposits, wire transfers, and P2P transfers are generally faster.  

If you’re anticipating a sizable payment, consider reaching out to the payer for direct deposit or a wire transfer. You can also ask them to use a mobile peer-to-peer payment app for quick and affordable transactions. The best part? No need for checks, pen, or paper!

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