Learning how to deposit a check, like opening a checking account, is an important early step in every financial journey. From making sure your check is valid to ensuring the endorsement is correct, let’s take the mystery out of check deposits — and pick up some handy tips along the way to keep things running smoothly at the teller, ATM or while on your bank’s website or mobile app.
How to prepare a check for deposit
Depositing a check begins with ensuring everything is in order. Here’s a handy checklist to keep in mind when preparing to deposit a check:
- Ensure the check is valid: A valid check is one that comes from the bank where the person who’s making the payment has their account. It should have the name of the person receiving the payment, the date of the payment, and the exact amount that needs to be paid. It should also include the signature of the payer. Any check missing these details will typically be considered invalid. Many checks typically contain a memo section for the payer to specify the intended purpose of the payment, if they choose.
- Confirm the information is accurate: Look at the written and numerical amounts on the check to ensure they match. Should you find any errors or discrepancies, getting in touch with the check issuer before you deposit may help avoid any potential processing problems.
- Endorse the check: As the recipient of a payment, you’ll find a designated space for your signature on the back of the check. Signing here is an endorsement that indicates you've verified the details on the check and are ready to accept payment. Endorsement is typically required to deposit a check. Endorsement requirements may vary from bank to bank, as well as if you’re depositing the check through your bank’s mobile app. You may need to include your account number as well. Be sure to verify with your bank.
Where can I deposit a check?
Nowadays, you typically have a few options for depositing a check. Let’s look at some usual ways to deposit a check and how each one typically works.
How do I deposit a check at a bank?
The traditional way to deposit a check is to visit your local bank branch. After endorsing your check, you can fill out a deposit slip, include the check and hand it to a teller. This method could be especially helpful if you need any assistance or have any questions about the process, as tellers and other banking professionals will be on hand to help.
How do I deposit a check at an ATM?
Many ATMs accept check deposits. Prior to depositing a check at an ATM, be sure to verify that the ATM is in your bank’s network. Depositing a check at an ATM typically involves inserting your debit card, entering your PIN and following the on-screen instructions. The ATM will generally prompt you to insert the check into a designated slot — just make sure to double check that you’ve selected the correct deposit account before submitting. You may want to keep the transaction receipt until the deposit clears in case there are any issues.
How do I deposit a check on a bank’s mobile app?
In today’s digital world, you might even be able to deposit a paper check without leaving the comfort of your home. Many banks offer mobile apps with check deposit services that allow you to deposit a check through your phone or smart device. You’ll generally be prompted to take a clear photo of both the front and back of the endorsed check on your bank’s mobile app. Check with your bank to find out if mobile check deposit services are available.
How do I deposit a check online?
Some banks allow you to deposit checks online through their web portals. To do this, you’ll typically need to capture both sides of the endorsed check with a camera or scanner, choose your desired deposit account and submit your check.
Through the mail
Another option may be to mail the check to your bank. This method requires the extra step of ensuring the check is secure in an envelope and addressed correctly. It also may be a good idea to track the letter if you choose to send it this way and hand it in to the post office personally, as checks may sometimes get lost in the mail. As an additional precaution, many financial institutions advise customers against mailing checks payable to cash.
Learning how to deposit a check is a valuable life skill — you might even say it pays to know how! The process typically involves ensuring the check is valid, confirming its accuracy, endorsing it and choosing a deposit method that suits you. Keep these basic steps in mind and, soon enough, they’re likely to become second nature.