How Mobile Checking Works

Making Deposits, Funds Availability, and More

Young Man Doing Remote Deposit Capture of Check
••• RyanJLane / Getty Images

Many employers pay with paper checks. It’s easy to get that money in your account without going to the bank. Mobile devices with cameras allow you to snap a photo and deposit the check quickly and easily.

Get the App

Verify that your bank or credit union offers mobile check deposit, and get the app for your device. Android, iPhone, and Windows devices are typically supported. Start from your bank’s website to be sure you get the legitimate app—impostor apps (or fakes) can steal your banking information.

Endorse the Check

Include any endorsement required by your bank. A signature might be sufficient, but you can use more restrictive endorsements if you prefer. Your bank might require specific language, such as "For mobile deposit only at [BankName]." Endorsing might not be required, but skipping the endorsement might lead to delays in getting your money (you might need to endorse and re-deposit). If you’re reluctant to endorse for some reason, check with your bank first.

Enter Information

Depending on your bank’s app, you might need to provide a bit of information such as the amount of the check and in which account to deposit the funds.

Take Photos

The app should guide you through the process. You’ll need separate pictures of the front and back (with your endorsement). Get a clear, well-lit photo that captures the entire check. If you’re having a hard time holding the camera still, brace your hand or elbow against a wall. Review the images to make sure everything is clear before submitting.

Verify and Submit

The app will most likely read the numbers on the bottom of the check automatically and ask you to verify they were read correctly. If everything looks good, submit your request.

Wait for Confirmation

Don’t destroy the check immediately. If it helps to prevent confusion, make a small mark on the check with a date to remind yourself it has been deposited. Follow your bank’s instructions on when to destroy the check. You’ll generally get an email within a few minutes or hours confirming your submission, and there might be another email telling you the deposit was accepted. Never re-deposit a successfully deposited check without speaking with your bank first.

Funds Availability

After you deposit your check, you may need to wait several days before spending the money. Banks often make a portion available (the first $200 or so) within one business day, while placing a hold on the remaining funds.

The good news is that mobile deposits often get a later cut-off time. Instead of making it to the branch in the afternoon, you might be able to deposit remotely as late as 10 PM and it’ll still count for today’s deposit. However, in some cases, it’s better to deposit in-person to a bank employee—check with your bank if you’ve got a really important deposit.

Limitations on Mobile Deposits

To reduce fraud, most banks set limits on deposits made with a mobile device:

Maximum limits: There’s often a maximum deposit limit. Find out how much you’re allowed to deposit per day or per month, and if there are limits on the number of checks you can deposit. These limits can vary from bank to bank, but banks often allow you to deposit several thousand dollars per month. Your limit might increase if your account has been open for several years without a problem.

Types of deposits: You might only get to make standard deposits—checks made payable to you. If a check is payable to you and somebody else, there’s a good chance you can still deposit it in your individual account (if both of you endorse it and it’s not a large check). Checks typically must be drawn on U.S. banks in U.S. currency. Money orders might not be allowed, and it’s unlikely you’ll be able to deposit a check payable to somebody else (but signed over to you).

The Safety Level of Making Mobile Deposits

Mobile check deposits are generally very safe, and they even prevent certain old-fashioned methods of fraud. For example, nobody can steal checks you’re walking around with or waiting to deposit (they might alter the checks and cash them themselves).

Any reputable bank or credit union uses industry-standard encryption in their app, so your account details should be safe. That said, it’s best not to use public WiFi for any sensitive information or anything requiring your bank password—use your own wired connection or your mobile phone’s data connection if you want to avoid broadcasting information.