How to deposit a check online

A couple in their kitchen use a smartphone and a laptop to learn how to deposit a check online with their bank.Image: A couple in their kitchen use a smartphone and a laptop to learn how to deposit a check online with their bank.

In a Nutshell

Knowing how to deposit a check online can help you avoid a trip to the bank. It’s as easy as downloading your bank’s app and snapping a couple of photos.
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Making a separate trip to the bank for routine things like depositing a check can be a hassle.

That’s why a lot of people choose to deposit their checks remotely over the internet. These days, it’s quite safe, but you need to know how to do it.

There are also special things to know about how to deposit a check online. For example, your bank might place special holds on this money that you can get around by depositing checks in person.

We’ll give you the full scoop on how to use remote deposit to get this task done sooner.

Can you deposit a check online?

Yes, just about anyone can deposit a check online if they have access to a smartphone or a scanner.

Depositing a check online is also known as a “mobile deposit,” “remote deposit” or “remote deposit capture” in the banking industry. All it means is that you’re depositing a check over the internet, without physically visiting the bank.

Banks have a couple of ways that you can do this. A popular way is to simply use your bank’s app to snap photos of the check. Some banks also allow you to deposit a check using a scanner if you don’t have a smartphone.

If mobile deposits are something you want to do, make sure that your bank allows for it before you sign up for an account.

How mobile check deposit works

The process for how to deposit a check online can vary a bit from bank to bank, but in general, it’s a similar process all around. Here’s how to do it, step by step:

  1. Download your bank’s app and log in: You can find your bank’s app in your relevant app marketplace or ask your bank how to download it. Then, log into your bank account through the app.
  2. Sign the check: Sign the back of the check. Many banks also require you to add a special note such as “for mobile deposit only.” It’ll tell you what, if anything, to write while you’re taking photos of the check.
  3. Choose the account you want to deposit it into: In the app, navigate to the account you want to deposit the check into. You should find an option in this specific account for “deposit a check” or similar wording.
  4. Take a photo of the front and back of the check: The app will prompt you to take a photo of the check. It’s best to place it on an uncluttered, clear background, and make sure the entire check is in the frame. Some apps automatically snap the photo for you once it detects a good image.
  5. Enter the deposit amount: Next, the app will prompt you to enter in the amount of your deposit.
  6. Review the deposit details: Check everything to make sure it’s correct, and then hit “deposit.” It’ll now be processed according to your bank’s deposit policies and timelines.
  7. Keep your check until it’s cleared: Keep your check in case anything goes wrong with the deposit.

What to consider when depositing a check online

Depositing a check online works similarly to when you do it in person, but there are a few extra things to think about. Make sure you consider these before you deposit a check online:

  • Deposit limits: Banks generally have caps on how much you can deposit remotely within a certain time frame. If you’ll be depositing big checks frequently, you’ll want to know what these limits are.
  • Holds on funds: Banks take time to process your remote deposit, during which time your funds are on “hold” and may not be available in your account yet. If you need cash right away, it might be better to deposit the check in person.
  • Tech savvy: Even though the process is fairly intuitive, you’ll need to figure out how to navigate the process for your specific bank’s app.

Is depositing a check online safe?

You wouldn’t be the first person to wonder whether it’s safe to send your financial details over the internet. But rest assured: While nothing is truly foolproof, depositing a check online is just about the safe as you can get.

Banks use encryption technology to protect your online account. Many banks even offer higher-grade security features, such as fingerprint and face recognition technology or two-factor authentication. If you’re particularly concerned about security, these are two good features to look for when choosing a bank to work with.

There are a lot of things you can do to make depositing a check online safer too:

  • Enable two-factor authentication
  • Don’t log into your bank app while on a public Wi-Fi network
  • Log out of your bank app when you’re done depositing the check
  • Learn how to avoid check fraud
  • Choose strong passwords for your bank account

What’s next?

Depositing your checks online can greatly simplify your life, but it’s not your only option for cashing one. Many banks also allow you to mail checks in or to drop them in secure deposit boxes or even ATMs.

And if you’re just more comfortable depositing them directly with a teller, that’s fine too. That’s the great thing about banks — there are many options for you to choose from to manage your money best. 

About the author: Lindsay VanSomeren is a freelance writer living in Kirkland, Washington. She has been a professional dogsled racer, a wildlife researcher, and a participant in the National Spelling Bee. She writes for websites such a… Read more.