How Long Can a Bank Hold a Check by Law?

Most banks have hold periods for checks, but how long can a bank hold a check by law? Well, it depends on the type of check, your bank, and, of course, federal regulations. Keep reading for more information regarding bank holds and alternatives to depositing checks if you need to access money faster. 

What Laws Dictate Bank Hold Times? 

There are a few laws in place that determine the amount of time that a bank can hold a check. Here are the major laws that you should know about: 

Regulation CC

Regulation CC offers a guideline for banks for holding deposited funds, including checks. Banks are required to follow this regulation. It also states that banks and financial institutions must disclose to customers how long these holds will last. 

The Expedited Funds Availability Act (EFAA)

Under Regulation CC, The EFAA was passed in 1987 to take care of concerns that consumers had about how long a bank is allowed to hold funds. They have specific day limits for different kinds of deposits, including checks. 

Check Clearing for the 21st Century Act

The Check Clearing for the 21st Century Act passed in 2003, also under Regulation CC, enabled banks to send electronic checks to each other. This allowed many banks to offer new services to customers. 

A Timeline for Check Holds Allowed From Banks

The amount of time a bank can legally hold your check will depend on the type of check you are depositing and your deposit method. Under Regulation CC, banks must provide a reasonable period to make funds from a customer’s account available, which generally ranges from one to five business days. 

It shouldn’t be surprising that banks, like other financial institutions, operate during standard business days and hours—Monday through Friday from 9am to 5pm. Keep those hours in mind when you considering how long it will take to access your check funds. Here are the timelines for different types of checks that banks must follow: 

Personal Paper Checks Under $200

The most common type of check that most people have are personal paper checks. Here are the deposit wait times for release of these checks, when they are under $200, based on deposit type:

  • In Person at a Bank Branch— next business day.
  • In-network ATM — the next business day.
  • Night deposit — the next business day. 
  • Out of Network ATM — fifth business day. 

Personal Paper Checks Over $200

For a personal check over $200 when you deposit at a bank branch in person, through an in-network ATM, or through a night deposit, the first $200 will be available the next business day. The rest of the balance will be available on the second business day. While with a deposit with an out of network ATM, the funds will be available on the fifth business day. 

Mobile Checks

There will be limitations to the types of checks you can deposit via your phone, depending on the bank. Acceptable checks can have holds that range from immediate use to a second business day. 

Cashier’s Checks, Teller Checks, and Certified Checks

Cashier’s, teller’s, and certified checks are more secure than personal checks and are prepaid for. Here are the release times for funds with these checks:

  • In Person at a Bank Branch— next business day.
  • In-network ATM — second business day.
  • Night deposit — second business day. 
  • Out of Network ATM — fifth business day.  

Postal Service Money Orders, Local Government Checks, Federal Reserve Checks, and U.S Treasury Checks. 

These are checks issued by government agencies and are usually seen as very secure by banks and financial institutions. Here are the holds you can expect on these checks: 

  • Into a Bank Account in Person at a Bank Branch— next business day.
  • In-network ATM — second business day.
  • Night deposit — second business day. 
  • Out of Network ATM — fifth business day. 

Can There Be Additional Hold Times? 

Although the standard check deposit hold times usually go up to five business days, there are certain situations of reasonable cause where banks can increase the hold time for checks. Here are some of those scenarios: 

Bank Accounts That Have Had Excessive Overdrafts

If your bank account has had several overdrafts in a short time, banks and other financial institutions can hold your checks for several days (usually around seven). 

Large Check Deposits Over $5,000

For any checks deposits over $5,000, the first $5,000 will be available on the second business day, and any leftover amount will be available on the seventh business day or later. 

Re-deposited Checks

Re-deposited checks are checks you will get back because they could not be deposited the first time. Insufficient funds can often be why this happens, and you will have to wait to deposit it again. With re-deposits for checks, you will have to wait usually until the seventh business day to use the funds. 

Emergency Situations

Sometimes due to natural disasters, banks and other financial institutions may be out of commission. If you deposit a check, it won’t be processed until the bank can continue work and business. 

Potentially Uncollectible Checks

If a bank thinks the check you are depositing is fraudulent, if it is post-dated, or your account does not have enough funds, you will have to wait seven days or more for them to verify things. 

New Account Holders

A financial institution may hold checks and other deposits for new accounts—usually accounts under 30 days old. These holds can take nine days or longer.  

Why Do Banks Hold Checks?

Banks hold checks for many reasons. One reason is to ensure that a check will be paid. Anyone can write a check; it won’t be until the check is deposited that the bank will know whether the issuer’s bank account has sufficient funds. Another reason is to verify that the check is legitimate. Check frauds happen all the time, and it can take some time for financial institutions to verify information. Just like insufficient fund cases, they must confirm that the funds will be sent over before they can issue the funds. 

Faster Ways to Use Your Check?

You should consider cashing your check at an ATM or in person at your local bank if you need to access funds quicker than a deposit. To do this with your bank, you must have sufficient funds available in your checking account and a valid Government-issued ID. Although cashing a check is fast, you may not have access to the full amount of the check right away. If you need funds sooner, fast cash loans may help.

In Conclusion

Banks will have unique holds for different check deposits, and they must follow federal guidelines for these holds. The average holding time ranges from the same day to five business days, but can take longer depending on different situations. Before choosing a bank to work with, it is essential to look for flexibility. And you will get all that information on benefits when you apply for a checking account. It will also be helpful to know that cash deposits and wire transfers are much faster, usually without hold times. Consider those options if you don’t want to wait for bank holds for available funds.


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