Review these steps to take advantage of this service without a hitch.
1. Know your bank’s requirements
Check to see if you can use your bank’s “remote deposit capture,” as the service is formally called. Most let you use the feature if you’re eligible for mobile banking, but at least one major bank requires you to apply and be approved for it. A fee may also be charged at some financial institutions.
2. Endorse the check
Once you know you can use the service, sign your check and look up additional instructions from your bank online or in the app. You may need to write “for remote deposit only” or include the last four digits of your account number.
3. Confirm that the check amount is within the deposit limits
For security reasons, many banks restrict the amount you can send remotely. See what your bank’s daily deposit limits are and check for any monthly restriction as well. Then, confirm that your check stays within those limits. If it doesn’t, you’ll most likely need to deposit it at an ATM or bank or credit union branch office.
4. Take clear pictures
Capture snapshots of both the front and back of the check, leaving some space on all sides and keeping everything in focus. If the photos aren’t clear, clean your camera lens or try uninstalling the app, restarting your phone and then reinstalling it.
Some banks’ apps capture the image without user prompting, which can be a problem. Lisa Kindel, a freelance marketing professional in Lexington, Kentucky, says that her biggest issue was “not being able to get clear pics of the checks because my hands shake and I couldn’t hold the camera still.”
To avoid this problem, caused by her bank app’s automatic capture setting, she eventually switched to a different bank that let her take photos of her checks manually.
5. Confirm and send
Make sure the check is going to the right account and that all other information, including the amount to be deposited, is correct. Once you’re ready, click to send it off.
6. Keep the check until it is processed
Your bank may notify you when a check is accepted either through its mobile app or a follow-up email. Once this happens, consider writing “void” across the front or “deposited by mobile” and holding on to the check until the deposit shows up in your account.
“I get birthday checks and would forget whether I deposited it,” says Skyler Slade, co-founder of the market research company Tandem in Orlando, Florida. For him, marking “void” is his reminder.
Like any deposit, it may take from a day to a week for mobile checks to be processed, depending on the bank and when you made the deposit. There’s a cut-off time, such as 5 p.m. or 11 p.m., for a check to be considered part of that day’s transactions. If the money doesn’t show up in your account after a week or two, visit a bank branch and present the paper check as proof of the deposit.
Consumers need to be aware of the funds and availability policies with their bank’s mobile deposits, so they don’t overdraw an account and incur fees, says Susan Weinstock, director of the consumer banking project at The Pew Charitable Trusts in Washington.
By following these steps, you can make a mobile check deposit without causing any errors, processing delays or unexpected fees. You can save time by sending checks from almost anywhere at any hour without worrying about finding the nearest branch or ATM.
Spencer Tierney is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @SpencerNerd.
Image via iStock.