Mobile check deposit is one of those modern conveniences where old met new in a beautiful way, and we never looked back. It’s just so darn simple to deposit a check these days.
Remember all those trips you made to the bank to deposit checks before you could do everything on your phone? Pulling into a drive-through lane, filling out a deposit slip, endorsing your check and then sending the tube to the teller was the norm. If the drive-through was busy, you might even park and go inside to deposit a check. Some days, a trip to the bank can be a welcome reprieve from your day—especially if you bank locally and enjoy your banking relationships. But other days, having the option to mobile deposit can be a lifesaver.
Today, the majority of banking apps allow you to electronically deposit a check in just a few easy steps. That may explain why three out of four Americans surveyed in 2021 routinely used a mobile banking app. Respondents said mobile check deposit was the app’s most valuable feature.
Social distancing and lockdowns prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic have only fueled the popularity of mobile check deposit. In 2020, 42% of people using mobile deposit were doing so for the first time. And it appears the trend is here to stay.
If you haven’t graduated to mobile check deposit yet, here are three great reasons to make the move. Spoiler alert: It’s safe, quick and deposit limits aren’t typically prohibitive. Plus, it’s usually a free service for account holders!
1. Mobile check deposit is secure when done properly.
It’s hard to believe, but banks have been offering mobile check deposit for more than a decade. Early on, though, some customers were reluctant to use the service. Skeptics had reservations about electronically transmitting sensitive financial data.
More and more customers have embraced mobile deposit, but there are still holdouts. So is mobile deposit safe? When done properly through your bank’s mobile check deposit app, various security, encryption and authentication measures will keep your data hidden from prying eyes.
To make a mobile deposit through your banking app, the process is fairly simple (see steps provided below). Basically, you’ll need to endorse the check and then photograph both the front and back. Don’t worry, these images aren’t stored on your phone. Banks refer to this practice as remote deposit capture, and it’s best to perform these types of transactions on a secure Wi-Fi network. Security experts also recommend not storing your banking app login credentials on your smartphone in case it gets lost or stolen.
Even though the process is typically safe, mobile deposit scams are a growing concern. Criminals who illegally obtain account login details and intercept checks are causing financial havoc for unsuspecting account holders. Some fraudsters are snatching checks right out of mailboxes. The big takeaway: Scams are, unfortunately, a threat with all things digital. Guard your confidential information with every available tool and consider signing up for a free preview of your daily mail to make sure nothing’s missing.
2. Funds are typically deposited quickly.
Mobile check deposit is convenient and secure, but what about speed? You want the funds in your account as fast as possible. So how long does mobile deposit take? Answer: not long.
While not instantaneous, checks deposited via mobile app will post to your account fairly quickly—usually within a day or two. Banks have funds availability policies that dictate the time it takes for checks to clear, but the turnaround is a relatively short one.
In some cases, though, the mobile check deposit process may hit a snag. Banks flag checks for a number of reasons, which can slow down a deposit or stop it altogether. Here are some scenarios where your mobile deposit might get hung up or blocked:
- A history of overdrafts
- Previous instances of deposited checks returned unpaid
- Deposits over your bank’s established limits
- There’s sufficient reason to believe the check won’t be paid
By and large, mobile check deposit should be smooth, with your balance often reflecting the transferred funds by the next business day. Be sure to check your bank’s funds availability policy and don’t hesitate to call if the deposit hasn’t posted within a couple of days.
3. Most banks allow you to make significant mobile deposits.
Unless you’re trying to deposit a six-figure inheritance check, limits on mobile deposits shouldn’t cause you too much trouble. Many banks allow you to deposit up to $5,000, $10,000 or even $20,000 in a single day or month. If you’re routinely depositing large sums into your account, you should speak to your bank about the available options.
Mobile deposit limits vary so you’ll want to check your app for those parameters or contact your bank directly to verify what restrictions apply. Newer accounts generally have lower limits. If those limits are going to be problematic for your cash flow, contact your bank to see what alternatives are available.
Many banks with mobile check deposit will entertain requests to adjust the published limits. If you’re a heavy mobile deposit user or longtime customer with several accounts with significant balances, your financial institution may be willing to raise the limits.
Mobile check deposit checklist
If you’re ready to make the move to mobile deposit, here are our tips for a smooth, stress-free experience:
- Endorse the check legibly and write “for mobile deposit only at (your financial institution)” under your signature.
- Take clear photos that are well-lit and in focus. Many banking apps include an auto snapshot feature that’s triggered when you have the check properly aligned in the frame.
- Save checks until the funds have been deposited and then shred them.