When a check clears, it means that the money has been transferred from the account where it originated into your own account. The amount of time it takes for a check to clear depends largely on how long it takes for the banks to communicate, verify that the original account has the necessary funds, and process the transfer into your own account where you’ve deposited the check.
It’s important to note that different banks may use the term “clear” somewhat differently. Generally, if a bank employee tells you that a check has cleared, it means the funds are available for you to withdraw, even if they haven’t technically been debited from the originating account. For the purposes of this post, we’ll define a check as “cleared” when the funds are available for you to withdraw as cash or use with a debit card.
In most cases, a check will clear in two business days or less. Many banks will allow you to access up to $200 immediately when you deposit a check, as long as your account is in good standing. After the check has cleared, the full amount will be available for withdrawal. See below for more about exact bank policies.
What Is a Business Day?
Most (if not all) of the policies regarding check holds are based on a “business day.” Business days are almost universally defined as every day except Saturday, Sunday, and federal holidays. However, the cutoff time for the business day may vary from one bank to another, or even among different branches or ATMs for the same bank. In some cases, the cutoff time may be as early as 2 p.m. at branch locations — sometimes even earlier for ATMs.
Perhaps your bank typically makes funds available the same business day that a check is deposited. If you go into a branch of your bank to deposit a check at 3 p.m., but its cutoff time is 2 p.m., your check won’t be processed until the following day. The deposit date will be postponed until the next business day, and so will your funds. If a bank has specified the cutoff time for branches or ATMs, we’ve included it in the list.
Also, it’s important to note that nearly every bank’s policies include a “longer delays may apply” section. Essentially, the bank can decide to place a longer hold on your check than the standard policy. This can be due to a number of factors, such as if your account is new or you have repeated overdraft activity. Banks can impose these additional holds at their discretion. In most cases, you can expect to be informed right away if an additional hold will be placed on your check deposit. A bank teller will often be able to tell you when the full funds will become available if the hold period falls outside the normal range.
Wait Times by Bank
The table below lists the typical time it takes for a deposited check to clear at more than 50 of the most common banks and credit unions. Keep in mind that the average check-clearing time may vary for large deposits, or if there are any issues with processing that particular check. Wherever possible, we’ve linked to the most relevant page on the bank’s website. If the check clearing times were not disclosed online, we contacted customer service.