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How to Set Up Direct Deposit

Banking, Banking Basics, Checking Accounts, Savings Accounts
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Direct deposit is a free service that electronically sends your paychecks or benefit checks to a bank account or prepaid debit card of your choosing. Electronic payments have a number of benefits:

  • Save time: You don’t need to visit a branch or ATM to deposit paper checks
  • Faster access to your money: You don’t have to wait for paper checks to clear
  • Less risk: Unlike a traditional check, an electronic payment can’t be stolen or misplaced

5 steps to setting up a direct deposit

1. Obtain a direct deposit authorization form

Your employer or the organization that will be making deposits may provide a form for you. You can also get one from your bank or credit union. See the table below for a list of banks and links to their online direct deposit forms.

Note: Social Security and other federal benefits are required by law to be made electronically to a bank or credit union account or to a Direct Express debit card. To sign up, visit or call (800) 333-1795.

2. Fill in account information

You typically need to provide the following personal and bank information:

  • Bank mailing address. Find this on your bank statement or your financial institution’s website.
  • Routing number. This is the nine-digit number, also known as the American Bankers Association — or ABA — number, printed along the bottom left of your checks and deposit slips. You can also find it on your bank statement or by searching “routing numbers” on the institution’s website.
  • Account number. This is the number at the bottom of your checks or deposit slips after the routing number. You may also find it on your bank statement.
  • Type of account. Select whether each direct deposit is going into a checking or savings account.
  • Some forms also ask for your Social Security number

3. Confirm the deposit amount

You can choose to deposit 100% of the check into one account, but some payers will let you spread the amount across multiple accounts.

For example, you could designate 20% of your paycheck or benefit check to go into a high-yield savings account. The remaining 80% could go into your checking account, where it would be available to pay monthly bills and everyday expenses.

An advantage of having at least some of your money go directly into savings — instead of letting it all sit in checking — is you may be less tempted to spend it. The automatic savings deposits could help you build an emergency fund or reach other savings goals faster and easier.

4. Attach a voided check or deposit slip, if required

Some employers use a voided check or deposit ticket to verify the account number and routing number, so you may be asked to attach one to a printed direct deposit authorization form. Be sure to write “VOID” across the face of a blank check before sending it to ensure no one can use it to withdraw money from your account.

5. Submit the form

Give the form to the organization that will be depositing the funds — your employer, for example.

It could take a few weeks for the direct deposit to go into effect. Monitor your bank account regularly so you’ll know when automatic deposits start appearing.

Direct deposit links for major banks and credit unions

Here are links to the direct deposit webpages of some large banks, as well as the NerdWallet reviews of these financial institutions.

Direct deposit is a convenient service that can give you faster access to your hard-earned money. You’ll need to take some time to set up the automatic deposit. But you’ll save time later by eliminating trips to a bank to cash checks — or waiting for checks to clear.

Margarette Burnette and Jeanne Lee are staff writers at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: or Twitter: @margarette or @jlee_jeanne.

Updated June 23, 2017.