How Do Mobile Check Deposits Work?

Your smartphone is a powerful tool, and it can do wonders to streamline the way you handle your finances. While over 75 million people use mobile banking apps on their smartphones, a survey by the Federal Reserve shows that only about 38 percent have tried making a mobile check deposit. If you’re looking to join that 38 percent, here are five points to help you get the most out of this technology.

The basics

To make a mobile deposit, you’ll need to photograph both sides of your endorsed check. This will be read by your financial institution’s automated software. Before you submit the check for processing, you’ll have to fill out a few details, such as the check’s amount and where you’d like the check deposited. After that, submit your check and wait for it to post.

Brush up on photography

To deposit your money, the financial institution’s software needs a clear, clean image of the check. Instead of holding the check, place it on a plain, dark background. Make sure the check is flat, well lit, and crisply in focus. You should be able to read all of the information on the check from the picture you submit. According to Marek Helcl, an industry expert in the mobile banking field, it’s important to remove anything attached to the check, such as a pay stub. Furthermore, your photo should capture the entire check, not a zoomed-in portion of it. While it may take a few extra minutes to set up the shot, it’ll prevent you from having to deal with check rejections and unnecessary delays in fund availability.

Keep a record of your transactions

After making a mobile deposit, it’s a good idea to keep the original paper check for two to three weeks, just in case an issue arises. It can be extremely difficult to resolve any problem without the check in hand, so keep it in a secure location. You should also note the date and mark the check as a mobile deposit to prevent your significant other from accidentally double depositing it, since this mistake can result in a fee. Once the check has been successfully deposited you should shred it so criminals can’t use its information for nefarious purposes.

Delayed availability

While you can send and receive pictures, texts and emails almost instantaneously, your mobile check deposits are far from instant. When managing your finances, be aware that it typically takes at least one business day for the deposit to post to your account. While that doesn’t sound very long, this delay can be extended by holidays, weekends and business hours. That means a check deposited on Friday evening may not post until Tuesday of the following week in some circumstances. However, some institutions can take as long as 10 business days to post your deposit.

Be aware of fees

The vast majority of financial institutions won’t charge you for making a mobile deposit. However, some charge a nominal fee every time you use the service — typically around $0.50 per check. While this isn’t much, it can add up if you’re a vendor who receives and deposits many checks.

Deposit limits

Be aware that some institutions have a limit on how much you can deposit via the mobile app. While this is aimed at preventing fraud, it can be frustrating if you deal with larger sums of money. According to the Pew Charitable Trusts, these limits range from $2,500 to $750,000, although some institutions place no limits on the amount you can deposit.

If you’re tech-savvy and live a fast-paced lifestyle, mobile check deposits might be right for you. However, before you deposit a check, be sure to read up on your institution’s policies regarding delays, fees and other potential pitfalls.

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