1. How quickly can I get money after I deposit a check into my checking account? What is a deposit hold?

Answer: Each bank or credit union has its own rules as to when it will let you access money after you deposit a check, but federal law establishes the maximum length of time a bank or credit union can make you wait.

Generally, if you deposit a check or checks for $200 or less in person to a bank employee, you can access the full amount the next business day. If you deposit checks totaling more than $200, you can access $200 the next business day, and the rest of the money the second business day. If your deposit is a certified check, a check from another account at your bank or credit union, or a check from the government, you can withdraw or use the full amount on the next business day if you make the deposit in person to a bank employee.

If you make a check deposit at an ATM at your bank, you can withdraw or use the full amount on the second business day. Your bank or credit union has a cut-off time for what it considers the end of the business day. If you make a deposit after the cut-off time, the bank or credit union can treat your deposit as if it was made on the next business day. A bank or credit union’s cut-off time for receiving deposits can be no earlier than 2:00 p.m. at physical locations and no earlier than noon at an ATM or elsewhere.

The amount of time a bank or credit union holds funds you deposit by check is sometimes referred to as a “deposit hold” or “check hold”. Some banks or credit unions may make funds available more quickly than the law requires, and some may expedite funds availability for a fee. If you need the money from a particular check, you can ask the teller when the funds will become available. A receipt showing your deposit does not mean that the money is available for you to use. It may take longer for you to access your deposit for a few reasons:

  • If you have a new account or if your account has been overdrawn too many times in the past six months;
  • If you make a deposit over $5,000;
  • If you make a deposit at an ATM owned by someone other than your bank or credit union; or
  • If the bank or credit union reasonably believes the deposited check may be uncollectible.
  • If you or your bank redeposit a check that has been returned unpaid.

2. Can I get a checking account without a social security number?

Answer: You are not required to have a social security number to open a checking or savings account. To open a checking or savings account, the bank or credit union will need to verify your name, date of birth, address, and ID number. An ID number can be a social security number or an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN). To get an ITIN, you will need to fill out a form with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

If you don’t have a U.S. government-issued SSN or ITIN, some banks and credit unions will accept a passport number and country of issuance, an alien identification card number, or other government-issued ID number. Visit different banks and credit unions to find out what types of accounts they offer, and what types of ID numbers they accept.

3. What is an ACH?

Answer: An ACH is an electronic fund transfer made between banks and credit unions across what is called the Automated Clearing House network.

ACH is used for all kinds of fund transfer transactions, including direct deposit of paychecks and monthly debits for routine payments. Merchants often enable consumers to pay bills via ACH by providing an account number and bank routing number. A number of online payment services also conduct transactions via ACH, including most banks and credit unions’ online bill payment services.

While many ACH payments clear quickly, because of the way in which an ACH is processed and precautions against fraud and money laundering, transactions can sometimes take several days to complete. ACH transactions can trigger a return notification if there are insufficient funds in the account.

4. Someone called me and told me I had won a scholarship and needed my account information to deposit the money. Instead, I see that person has withdrawn money. What can I do?

This is a common scam. You should immediately call your bank and let them know what happened. You should ask that the bank prohibit future withdrawals or debits from the person who made the unauthorized withdrawal or debit and ask the bank to restore the money taken from your account. If the scammer used an electronic funds transfer to withdraw the funds, you may have additional protections under federal law.

5. What is the best way to move my checking account to another bank or credit union? Answer: When moving your checking account to a new bank or credit union, open the new account first and update any automatic transactions, direct deposit, or payment paperwork. If you decide to move your checking account to another bank or credit union, here’s how to make the transition a little smoother:
    Open the new account first.
  • List all the automatic deposits and withdrawals scheduled to go in and out of your old account each month. Be sure to include any bills you have authorized to be paid directly from your checking account, such as utility bills or credit card bills.
  • If you have direct deposit, fill out the papers directing your employer to reroute your paychecks to your new account. Do the same for any other direct deposit, such as Social Security payments.
  • Find out the date your direct deposits will transfer. Once you know the date of the first direct deposit, arrange for your automatic debits and withdrawals to be made from your new account and be sure to cancel them from your old account.
  • Leave enough money in your old checking account to cover any checks that haven’t cleared or automatic payments that haven’t been made to avoid any fees.
  • Once you’re certain all direct deposits and automatic payments are coming in to and going out of your new account, transfer the remaining funds from your old checking account into your new account. You can do this fastest electronically or by using a cashier’s check. Using a personal check may be cheaper than using a cashier’s check, but there may be a longer wait before it is available in your new account.
  • Once the transfer clears your new account, close the old account. Get written confirmation that the account has been closed.
6. Can I open checking or savings accounts with more than one bank at a time?

Yes. There are no restrictions on the number of checking and savings accounts you can open or the number of banks or credit unions with which you can have accounts.