How long does it take to clear a check?
Most types of checks clear within two business days, though some banks and credit unions are speedier (jump to a list of banks that clear checks fast). Usually the first $200 of a check is made available the business day after the bank receives the check. How long it takes a check to clear can depend on the amount of the check, whether your account is in good standing, and how long you’ve been a customer of the bank.
A business day is a weekday that isn't a bank holiday, so here's an example of the two-day standard:
Day of deposit: You deposit a $1,000 check.
First business day: $200 of the check is available.
Second 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, in one business day.
» Cash management accounts: See our top picks for these high-APY checking-savings hybrids
Why do processing delays occur?
In some cases, checks can be held for up to seven business days. (For example, if you deposited on a Monday, the check might take until Wednesday of the following week.) Delays usually occur because:
You’re depositing a large amount in checks — generally more than $5,000 — in a single day.
The account has been open for less than 30 days.
The account has repeated overdrafts in the past six months.
The bank believes the check won’t be paid, for whatever reason.
Your bank or credit union should tell you if it’s holding your check for an extended time. If you aren’t sure when the money will be available, check the deposit receipt or ask the teller. 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.
For any deposit, the clock starts on the business day a check is received, before the institution's cutoff time. For check deposits outside of ATMs, banks can’t have a cutoff hour before 2 p.m, but otherwise it varies by bank.
Banks and credit unions that clear checks fast
Some banks and credit unions make funds available faster than the two-day standard. Here are some of the larger institutions with same-day or next-business-day availability on personal checks. This assumes the checks aren’t being held for one of the reasons above.
Same-day availability up to $225 for personal checks deposited via mobile, shared branch or mail before 5 p.m. CST on a business day.
Generally next business day up to $5,525. Cutoff times are 2 p.m. local time for branches and 5 p.m. local time for ATMs.
Cutoff times for mobile deposit 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.
Next business day up to $5,525. Cutoff is branch closing, or 9 p.m. Eastern time, for Capital One ATMs.
Next business day up to $5,525 when deposited with a teller. Business day cutoff time is 10:30 p.m. Eastern time for all ATMs.
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.
Same-day availability for the first $100, and next business day for the remaining amount, up to $50,000.
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.
Same day 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.
Next business day up to $5,000. Cutoff time is close of business or 9 p.m. Pacific time for ATMs.
So what’s the holdup?
To process a check, your bank or credit union needs to acquire the money from the payer’s checking account. If the account is at another financial institution, the check is typically sent to a clearinghouse that handles the request.
The process can take a few days. If the check isn’t deemed “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 decide to credit your account before the check technically clears.
If it later learns the check can’t clear — because the payer’s account is overdrawn, for example — your institution could take the money back out of your account. Be sure to read your deposit agreement and disclosure forms for more detail on your institution's policies.
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 it’s usually a matter of days, not minutes.
Direct deposits, wire transfers and P2P transfers are generally faster. Consider asking the payer for direct deposit or to wire the funds if you’re expecting a large amount. You could also ask the payer to send you money using a mobile peer-to-peer payment app. Transactions are inexpensive and fast — and unlike checks, there’s no need for pen and paper.