How long does direct deposit take?

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In a Nutshell

Generally, direct deposits must be available the next business day after a bank receives the funds. Convenience and fast access are big perks of direct deposit.
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Direct deposit is an easy and fast way to get access to your money.

Direct deposits — also known as electronic funds transfers, or EFTs — allow businesses and organizations to send secure payments that are usually available to you quickly. On average, it can take up to three business days for a direct deposit to clear, but the timing can depend on the type of payroll software your employer/the sender uses. Some employers can process your money faster and make it available immediately on your scheduled payday.

We’ll review what you should know about when your direct deposit will be available.

What is direct deposit and how does it work?

Direct deposits are money transfers made electronically. They can be made by businesses, government agencies or the general public. Because the transfers are electronic, the U.S. Department of the Treasury considers direct deposits to be a safe and efficient way to send money.

Direct deposits may also allow you to avoid monthly maintenance fees at some banks.

To receive a direct deposit, you’ll probably need to sign up with your employer, or with whatever organization is paying the funds (the IRS, for example, if you’re receiving a tax refund). Keep in mind that if you plan to receive benefits like Social Security, veterans benefits, or pay for civil service or military retirement, the federal government requires that you receive payments by direct deposit.

To set up direct deposit, you’ll need to provide your bank information, including your checking account or savings account number and bank routing number. This tells the sender where to send your money.

Can companies require that employees receive wages via direct deposit? The answer depends on the scenario. According to federal regulations, if a company allows its employees to choose which institutions receive their direct deposits, the company can require participation in direct deposit. But if the company designates a specific institution to receive all of its employees direct deposits, employees can opt out and get a paper check instead.

How long does direct deposit take?

On average, it’ll take one to three business days for a direct deposit to clear, but the timing can depend on the type of payroll software your employer or sender uses. With some employers and payroll processing services, your direct deposits can be available on your scheduled payday.

To be sure of when your money will arrive, it’s best to talk with your employer for the details.

Does direct deposit happen immediately?

Banks must make direct deposits available at least by the following business day ifthe deposit is received on a normal banking day. But many banks may even make the money available immediately as a general practice.

Just be aware that if you’re signing up for your first direct deposit with an employer, government agency or other organization, it may take several payroll cycles before you stop getting paper checks and start receiving direct deposits in your account.

Is direct deposit automatic?

Once your direct deposit setup is processed, payments will go to your bank account automatically.

Employers are generally not allowed to charge a fee for direct deposit if they require you to accept pay this way, or if fees drop your pay below minimum wage. While banks may charge a variety of fees, there’s usually no cost to you for having direct deposits added to your account.

How do I check the status of my direct deposit?

You may want to check your account balance to see if your direct deposit payment has cleared. If a scheduled deposit hasn’t posted to your account, you can:

  • Ask a bank representative if the problem is with the financial institution.
  • Check with your employer or the organization that issued the direct deposit.
  • Make sure you provided the right account information and routing number.

Is there anything I can do to get my direct deposit faster?

Some banks allow you early access to your paycheck if you enroll in direct deposit. You may be able to access your paycheck up to two days early with accounts like Chime, Credit Karma Money™ Spend and Capital One.

What’s next?

While direct deposit is a convenient and safe way to get paid — especially if you’re receiving a paycheck from an employer — it’s not the only way to get money.

Paper checks, cash and digital payment apps such as Zelle and Venmo also offer ways to deposit money into your checking or savings account. The right option for you can depend on things like …

  • Whether you currently have a bank account
  • The amount of money you expect to receive
  • Whether the money is coming from abroad
  • Whether it’s a peer-to-peer transfer or money from an employer

About the author: Christy Rakoczy Bieber is a full-time personal finance and legal writer. She is a graduate of UCLA School of Law and the University of Rochester. Christy was previously a college teacher with experience writing textbo… Read more.