1. Banking 101

Funds Availability

As a general policy, banks place holds on customers’ deposits to protect themselves from banking fraud. When you look up your bank account balance at the ATM or online after making a deposit, you may see a difference between your account balance and your available balance. This lets you know that a deposit you’ve made hasn’t cleared yet. It’s extremely important to be aware of how your bank’s deposit hold policy works so that you aren’t penalized for trying to make a payment with money you don’t yet have access to. The bank’s hold policy will always apply to business days, not calendar days. A business day is any day that is not a Saturday, Sunday, or federal holiday.

How long you’ll have to wait to access deposited funds varies. According to the U.S. Treasury’s Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, a bank has some flexibility in the hold times it imposes on deposits: It can make them available immediately, or it can delay deposit availability up to the maximum length of time prescribed by law under federal regulation.

There may also be cutoff times, which vary by bank, that affect when your deposited funds will become available. A bank might state, for example, that deposits must be received by 9:00 p.m. ET for same-day credit and funds will generally be available the next business day. The account agreement you receive when you open a checking account will explain your bank’s rules on deposit holds, but here are some general guidelines.

  • When you are a new customer who has had an account with the bank for 30 or fewer calendar days, the bank is allowed to hold your deposits longer under the Expedited Funds Availability Act.
  • Larger deposits, especially those over $5,525, usually take longer to credit to your account than smaller deposits. Banks can hold deposits in excess of $5,525 (as of 2021) for up to nine business days.
  • Cash deposits are generally available by the next business day. Cash may not be available immediately even if deposited with a teller.13
  • Government checks deposited via teller will be available no later than the next business day.
  • Direct deposits become fully available to you the next business day following the deposit. (That’s why you might see your paycheck in your account late on Thursday night—so you can access the money on payday, Friday, instead of having to wait until Monday.)

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