How to deposit a check

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Paper checks are less popular than they were in the past, but you may get a check from a friend or relative for your birthday, wedding or another special occasion.

With a few simple steps, here’s how you can deposit a check at a bank, ATM and on your smartphone to ensure the funds make it to your bank account quickly and efficiently.

How to deposit a check at the bank

To deposit a check in-person at the bank, follow these steps.

  • Endorse the check: On the back of check, you’ll find an area that says something similar to “endorse here.” As soon as you arrive at the bank, endorse or sign the check on the line provided to you.
  • Fill out a deposit slip: The deposit slip will show the teller what you want to do with your check. You’ll need to write down your name and account number and list the cash amount of your deposit. If you’d like to receive any of your check in cash, you’ll add in that information too. Lastly, you’ll calculate the total deposit and sign the slip if you’re receiving cash.
  • Go to a teller: Walk up to the teller and provide him with your check and deposit slip. The teller may ask for your driver’s license or another form of ID. Once the banker deposits the funds, you can expect him to provide you with a receipt.
A deposit slip
Illustration by Bankrate

How to deposit a check at the ATM

If you can’t make it to the bank during regular business hours, you may want to deposit a check at the ATM. Not every ATM lets you deposit checks, so call your bank first to find out whether it offers the functionality. Here’s how you can deposit a check at an ATM.

  • Gather the right items: Before you go to the ATM, make sure you have your debit card and signed check.
  • Insert your card: Once you’re at the ATM, insert your debit card and enter your PIN.
  • Select where you’d like to deposit the money to: In most cases, you’ll choose “checking” or “savings.”
  • Type the amount you’re depositing: Unless you’re at an ATM that will be able to read your check automatically, you’ll need to type in the exact dollar amount you want to deposit.
  • Insert the check: Place your check into the slot so that the machine can collect it.
  • Confirm the dollar amount: You’ll see a dollar amount on the screen and be asked to verify the number. Depending on the ATM you’re using, you may be asked to answer a few more questions.
  • Take the receipt and debit card: After you’ve deposited your check, don’t forget to take your receipt and debit card before you leave the ATM.

How to deposit a check on your smartphone

If you prefer to deposit a check online from the comfort of your own home, grab your smartphone and do the following.

  • Download your bank’s app: Most banks allow for mobile deposits, but you will likely need to have its app on your phone to use the functionality. Make sure the app you download is legitimately from your bank so that you don’t fall victim to identity theft.
  • Find the deposit check option: Once you download the app and log in with your credentials, tap on “deposit check” or something similar.
  • Endorse the check: Sign the back of your check.
  • Take a photo: Find good lighting and use your smartphone camera to take a photo of the front and back of your check.
  • Provide some information: Enter the amount on the check and confirm that the app has read the account and routing numbers correctly.

Bottom line

In a perfect world, you wouldn’t ever have to deposit a paper check. Any money you receive would instantly appear in your account. Since this is not the reality, it’s essential to learn or re-learn how to deposit a paper check.

Whether you want to deposit it at a bank, at an ATM or on your smartphone, you’ll find the process to be a breeze. Remember, however, it can take a couple of days before your funds are available in your account after you deposit a check.

Featured image by Andrey_Popov of Shutterstock. Illustration by Bankrate.

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Written by
Anna Baluch
Contributing writer
Anna Baluch is a personal finance freelance writer from Cleveland who enjoys writing about debt, mortgages, student loans, personal loans and auto financing.