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How long does it take for a check to clear?

The digital age has transformed banking as we know it. Still, there are plenty of occasions when people may use physical paper checks to send and receive payments. However, payments from checks aren’t normally available immediately. Understandably, you may be wondering, “How long does it take for a check to clear?”

When do checks clear?

By law, banks are required to make at least the first $225 of a personal check deposit available for use by the next business day. Note that certain checks may take additional time, particularly if it’s an international transfer as those may take longer to verify. Procedures for check verification typically vary from bank to bank.

Certain types of checks are designed to clear faster, often being available in full by the next business day. These include:

  • Checks from federal and other government agencies
  • Checks where both accounts are held by the same institution
  • Certified checks
  • Cashier’s checks

What is a business day?

Keep in mind the distinction between business days and calendar days. Calendar days generally denote any 24-hour period from midnight to midnight. Business days, on the other hand, refer to days when the bank is open for business — weekends and bank holidays are not considered business days.

A business day typically ends at the same time the bank's business hours do, and some institutions may even have an earlier cutoff time for check deposits. Deposits made past that time will usually be part of the next business day's transactions.

Do checks clear on Saturdays?

Business days don’t typically include weekends or holidays. That means a check deposited Friday night after business hours will be treated as if it were deposited Monday morning (if it isn’t a holiday).

Some financial institutions may advertise extended business hours or days. This is at their sole discretion and may not always apply. You may wish to consult with your local bank for their policies on this.

Do checks clear on bank holidays?

As the name implies, banks and other financial institutions are normally closed on bank holidays. As such, bank holidays typically don’t count towards a check’s clearing time.

Why is my check delayed?

There may be times when clearing a check takes longer than usual. This normally happens when the bank needs to take extra steps verifying the transaction. Common causes of delay include:

  • Depositing a large amount (more than $5,525) in checks in a single day.
  • Making check deposits into accounts that are less than 30 days old.
  • Having multiple recent overdraft charges on the account in question.
  • Suspecting that the check won’t be paid.

In summary

Let’s return to our original query, “How long does it take for a check to clear?” As you see, the answer typically depends on a combination of factors: when the check was deposited, what type of check it is, and where it came from.

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