How to Deposit a Check: Tips and Tricks

Written by Jennifer PachecoUpdated: 3rd Nov 2022
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Handing out a check as a Christmas or birthday present isn’t all that popular anymore. Just like paying bills with a check or paying a vendor/business with a check is far and few between.

Sure, some companies prefer checks be submitted so that they leave a paper trail for accounting purposes.

But with ACH wire transfers, cash payments, and credit/debit transactions, people are starting to shy away from the good old standard check option.

That doesn’t mean we should do away with them, though. What happens if you come across a check one day, handed to you in a card?

Or, what happens if you switch over your heating or electricity to a different company that’s still not on the digital online path?

Even still, what if you want to purchase some goods, be it furniture or artwork, and the vendor simply doesn’t want to deal with credit card transactions?

All these situations pose a problem for you – IF you don’t know how to work a check.

Luckily, we’re going to make this little tutorial short and sweet; we’re only going to take care of one division of knowing your way around a check: Depositing the thing.

Keep reading if you need a little How-To or a quick refresher in depositing a check.

How to Deposit a Check at a Bank (Step-by-Step)

The process of depositing a check is fairly easy once you get the hang of it. Just follow the step-by-step process outlined below, and you’ll be golden.

#1. Endorse the Check

Endorsing a check takes seconds. Simply flip the check over and locate the area on the back labeled “endorse here.” Under the phrase, sign your name in cursive as it appears on the front of the check.

For example, if your name is Robert Almeida, you’d sign the check, Robert Almeida. You would not voluntarily shorten your name to Rob, Bob, Bobby, or any other nickname, as it would not validate the check – and you may have difficulty cashing or depositing the funds from there.

Tip: Try your best to only endorse the check when you’re at the bank, ready to take action with it. If you endorse the check too soon, you risk fraud.

#2. Obtain a Deposit Slip

Before heading to the teller to cash or deposit the funds in the check, you’ll want to find yourself a deposit slip.

There will be several areas to fill out on the deposit slip, including your name, the account number the check should be associated with, the current date, and the final check amount. These slips automatically tell tellers what to do with the money presented in the check.

Having a deposit slip makes the entire process easy. Easy enough that you can take some cash from the check and place the other funds into whatever account you wish.

>> More: How to write a Check

#3. Go to the Bank (Bring Valid Identification)

Last of the three steps is actually going to the bank, walking up to the teller, and giving them the check and deposit slip.

Some of the best banks or tellers may request photo identification of some sort, especially if you’re not a regular and they don’t find you to be a familiar face.

The most common forms of ID used in these instances are your state driver’s license and your international passport.

Once the deposit or cashing of the check is complete, you’re good to be on your way. Make sure you ask for a receipt for bookkeeping purposes if you want to keep a paper trail of your money.

How to Deposit a Check at the ATM

If you’d prefer to deposit your check at an ATM versus in person through a teller, that’s perfectly fine. The steps are a bit different, though.

  1. Start by gathering the necessities: Your bank’s debit card and the check you’re depositing.
  2. Once you get to the ATM, quickly insert your debit card and enter your PIN into the machine.
  3. Make sure you tell the ATM you’re depositing through the automated button system and specify where you want the funds to go, whether it be your checking or savings account.
  4. Key in the exact amount you’re depositing into your banking account if the ATM cannot automatically read your check.
  5. Insert the check into the ATM machine to retrieve your funds.
  6. One last time, confirm that the ATM has read your check correctly through the display screen. It should automatically display a dollar amount on the screen for you to verify. A few additional questions may pop up before retrieving your funds, too.
  7. After all, questions are answered, you should receive a receipt for your transaction, and your debit card will pop out, and you’ll be prompted to grab it from the debit card insert slot.

>> More: Can You Deposit Cash at an ATM?

How to Deposit a Check on Your Smartphone

If you’d much rather avoid the bank altogether, indoors and at the ATM, there’s still one more safe and secure way to deposit a check into one of your banking accounts. Use your smartphone! The steps for this process are as follows:

  1. Open your bank’s app. If you don’t have the app, download it and agree to its terms and conditions. Be sure that the app you’re downloading is legit, as you don’t want to be associated with fraudulent activity or identity theft.
  2. Once the app is open and fully downloaded, put in your username and password (register if need be) and find the “deposit check” option. Click on it. Similar phrases may appear instead.
  3. Endorse the check you’re depositing – sign it on the back under the “endorse here” section.
  4. Snap a photo of the check with your phone’s camera. Make sure the lighting is good and that your smartphone’s camera did not take a blurry photo. The front and back of the check must both be photographed.
  5. Enter and confirm whatever information your bank’s app requests of you, like the amount on the front of the check and your name. Make sure you have the right routing and account number to where you want the funds to be received, and press “finish” or a similar phrase to that.

>> More: What Is a Mobile Check Deposit?

What Documents Do You Need to Deposit a Check?

There are no printed documents needed to deposit a check at a bank.

However, some banks may ask you to present valid identification like a driver’s license or passport, especially if they’re not familiar with you.

How Do You Deposit a Check at Home?

Depositing a check at home strictly has to go through the banking app your bank uses. Follow the above steps on how to deposit a check using your smartphone to successfully complete this process.

Can You Deposit a Check at Any Branch?

A check can be deposited at any branch within your bank’s strict community. When I say that, I mean that if you’re a member at Bank of America, you can deposit your check at any BoA branch as they all have your unique identification account number – the funds will go directly into the account you request them to go to.

However, if you’re a member at Bank of America and you want to deposit a check into a Bank5 Connect checking account, you cannot do so unless you are also a member there. You may be able to cash it with valid identification.

Can You Deposit Cash at an ATM?

In short, yes. However, there are many more hoops to jump through for depositing cash into an ATM instead of withdrawing cash.

Before you take a wad of cash to an ATM, check that your bank allows cash deposits and use their website or mobile app to find an ATM that allows cash deposits.

You may be familiar with in-network and out-of-network ATM Partnerships, but different rules exist for deposits versus withdrawals.

For example, most banks have a network of ATMs that they own and operate, and they have agreements with other ATM providers so that you can withdraw cash at most ATMs.

Deposits are not the same, especially with out-of-network ATMs.

So even if you find one of your Bank’s ATMs, you should check online to filter and see if it accepts deposits.

What Fees Are Charged for ATM Cash Deposits?

ATMs often have operating fees, deposit fees, and withdrawal fees that can be confusing. Average ATM deposit fees range between $1.50 to $3.50.

Fortunately, if you are making a deposit at an ATM owned and operated by your bank, you may be able to be reimbursed for any ATM fees incurred.

If possible, consumers who want to avoid all fees may be better off depositing cash in person at a local branch.

Is It Safe to Deposit Cash at an ATM?

Depositing cash into an ATM is relatively safe, especially if you adhere to common-sense safety protocols.

Go to make your deposit in populated areas where the ATM is well-lit and security cameras are available.

You can make depositing cash into an ATM even safer by making a deposit during the day and having someone with you or at least telling somebody where you are going.

Is It Hard to Deposit Cash at an ATM?

Finding an ATM that accepts cash is more complicated than the actual deposit itself. Thankfully, mobile banking will help you identify an ATM near you that does accept cash, and once you get to the ATM, follow the steps outlined in this article, and you shouldn’t have a problem depositing cash.

Do Personal Checks Expire?

Checks don’t actually expire, but banks can limit how long they want to accept valid checks for.

For example, some banks implement rules stating that if a check is 6 months or older, you cannot cash or deposit funds and will need another valid check with a newer date on it to receive its money.

What Is Mobile Deposit?

Mobile Deposit is an easy way to deposit checks virtually. Banks will allow you to scan paper checks with your mobile device’s camera and upload it into your account via the bank’s app. This method is safe and convenient and will save you time.

How Does Mobile Check Deposit Work?

Mobile check deposit allows you to take a photo of your check and upload it to your bank. This is possible due to remote deposit capture technology, enabling you to legally create a digital substitute of a physical check.

This way, banks can accept your digital check as a legal equivalent to your physical check.

After you have submitted your digital check and deposit request, your information is encrypted and sent to your bank, where it will be processed and eventually deposited into your account.

How Large of a Check Can You Deposit on Your Phone?

The size of the check varies on your bank. Your bank will have a maximum deposit limit that may limit you to a certain amount per day, week, or month.

You can check your deposit limit through the bank’s mobile app. Usually, the longer you are with a bank without issues, the higher the deposit limit.

What Types of Checks are Accepted with Mobile Deposit?

In general, most checks from American banks are accepted with mobile deposits. Mobile deposit technology has come a long way over the last few years, and most consumers do not have any issues depositing checks with their smartphones.

A few potential issues you may run into with mobile deposits could be checks from foreign banks.

Checks from domestic banks are fairly standardized. Most consumers either have personal checks or business checks around the same size.

Foreign banks may not use the same numeric identification system that follows a routing number followed by an account number.

So, if you have a large check from an international bank, you may want to consider making an in-person deposit at a branch bank to avoid any confusion or delay getting your funds.

If you are not sure if your bank will accept your check or not, there is usually a customer service or contact option on the app.

Bottom Line: How to Deposit a Check

That’s all you need to know! Sure, checks may not be around for much longer, or they may just outstay their welcome. But whatever the case may be, you’ll know how to deposit one in a variety of different ways.

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Jennifer Pacheco

Jennifer Pacheco attended the University of Dartmouth, Massachusetts where she earned her degree in English Writing & Editorial Work. She is a seasoned personal finance writer with over 5 years of professional work under her belt, and supplies easy-to-read information that’s educational, engaging, and conversational to help you make the most of your money.