Can I deposit a check at an ATM?

The answer is yes—and here’s how to do it

Almost everyone’s been there before: You receive a check, tuck it safely away, then forget to deposit it before the bank closes. Luckily, you can deposit a check (and even cash) into certain ATMs any time of day or night.

If the idea of giving your money to a machine makes you worry—or you’re just not sure how it all works—the following tips may help put your mind at ease. After all, you should be able to access your money when you need it, and the trusty ATM can help you do just that.

How to deposit a check at an ATM

Here are some things to consider the next time you need to deposit money during non-banking hours:

Locate an ATM: If your bank has an ATM nearby, and it accepts deposits, you’ll naturally want to use that one. This may help you avoid fees and delays with accessing your money once it’s deposited. If you’re in a different neighborhood or out of town, you may still be able to deposit checks in an ATM.

First, make sure the ATM takes your type of bank card and that it accepts deposits. Smaller ATMs located in convenience stores, for instance, may only dispense cash, so check for a deposit slot.

Sometimes, it’s a matter of choosing an ATM that’s in your bank’s network. The Allpoint Network, for example, has 55,000 ATMs that a large number of banks and credit unions belong to. This allows its customers to deposit cash or checks in many of its ATMs.

Come prepared: When you’re ready to make your deposit, gather all of the items you’ll need. Bring your bank debit card and (memorized) PIN, your signed check (or cash), a filled-out bank envelope (only if the ATM requires one) and a pen in case you need to fill out anything else. You’ll be well organized, and other customers waiting in line will thank you.

Be cautious: Before stepping up to the plate, be sure that your surroundings are safe, secure and well-lit. Keep cash hidden from view, and never let anyone see your PIN.

Follow instructions: Each ATM works a little differently, but the instructions on the screen will guide you from one step to the next. Some ATMs ask you to insert and quickly remove your card while others ask you to leave it in until your transaction is complete. Either way, this is generally how it works:

  1. Insert your card and enter your PIN.
  2. Choose the “Deposit” option.
  3. Select which account you’d like the money to go to (usually savings or checking).
  4. Type in the amount of money you’re depositing and insert your check. If the ATM can read checks, you won’t even need to enter the amount.
  5. Confirm the dollar amount you see on screen.
  6. Answer any remaining questions, take your receipt and make sure you have your bank card before walking or driving away.

If you have multiple checks or bills to deposit, many ATMs allow you to insert them all at once. Other ATMs might require you to place your deposits in a bank envelope.

Accessing your money

Now for the all-important question: When will your ATM deposit be available in your checking account? Some cash deposits might be available right away.1 As for checks, not all banks follow the same schedule, but you can usually withdraw or use the full amount in two business days—sometimes sooner.2

Keep in mind that your bank or credit union has a cut-off time for what it considers the “end of the business day,” which can be as early as noon at ATMs.2 That means, if you make a deposit after those cut-off times, the bank will treat the deposit as if it were made on the next business day.

Making a deposit at an ATM owned by someone other than your bank may also delay your access. So, be sure to give yourself enough time so that your money is there when you need it.

Banking from home

If banking on your own time sounds appealing, you may want to check out your bank’s mobile app, which can let you make deposits from your smartphone without leaving the house. After downloading the app and registering your account, you’ll be able to make deposits just by snapping a photo of the front and back of your check. (It only feels like magic the first few times.)

What’s most important is finding a way to bank that fits your needs. If the ATM check deposit suits you and saves you time, great, because banking that works around your lifestyle is always a good thing.

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