How Mobile Check Deposit Works

Make deposits the easy way through this convenient banking feature

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

Banks nowadays often offer a mobile check deposit feature that lets customers deposit a check through the bank's app using a mobile device with a camera. The feature makes it easy to get money into your account without going to the bank. Learn how to use mobile check deposit so you can get money into your account as conveniently as possible.

Steps for Making a Mobile Check Deposit

The method for depositing a check may vary slightly depending on the financial institution. However, the following steps often apply.

Get the App

Go to the website of your bank or credit union to see whether it offers mobile check deposit. If it does, the website will often provide a download link to the bank's mobile app. Download the app onto a mobile device with a camera: Android, iPhone, and Windows devices are typically supported.  Start from your bank’s website to ensure you get the legitimate app. Imposter apps that can steal your banking information may be listed in official application stores.

Endorse the Check

Include any endorsement required by your bank. A signature in the payee section at the top of the back of the check may be sufficient, but your bank may require a restrictive endorsement that makes your intention clear. An example of such an endorsement is "For mobile deposit only to my [name of financial institution] account." Some checks already contain the mobile deposit language on the back of the check next to a box. If you put a checkmark in the box, you don't have to write in that language. Endorsing might not be required for mobile check deposit, but skipping the endorsement might lead to delays in getting your money, as you might need to endorse and re-deposit it. If you’re reluctant to endorse for some reason, check with your bank.

Enter Information

Depending on your bank’s app, you might need to provide a bit of information about the check during a mobile check deposit. This may include the amount of the check, the account in which you want to deposit the funds, and perhaps a note to yourself about the nature of the check.

Take Photos

The app should guide you through the process of snapping photos of the check using your mobile device. You’ll need separate pictures of the front and back (with your endorsement). Get a clear, well-lit photo that captures the entire check, preferably against a dark background. If you’re having a hard time getting a clear image, brace your hand or elbow against a wall. Verify that the images are clear before submission.

Some banking apps will automatically take a photo of the check when the camera is positioned directly over the check. To ensure crisp images, make sure that all four corners of the check are within the frame shown in the app.

Verify and Submit

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

Wait for Confirmation

Don't destroy the check immediately after depositing it, as the bank might not have accepted it yet. Regions Bank suggests holding on to the check for 30 days in case a problem crops up later. And NuMark Credit Union in Illinois expects you to retain them for 60 days.

Other banks, including Bank of Louisiana, say you should shred the check as soon as it has cleared. You should go to your bank's website to see what its recommendation is.

You’ll usually get an email confirming receipt of your deposit request, and there might be another email telling you that the deposit was accepted. Verify that your account balance reflects the deposit.

Until your check has been deposited, if it helps to prevent confusion, make a small mark on the check with a date to remind yourself that it has been deposited.

Availability of Funds

After you deposit your check, you will probably have to wait until at least the next business day before all of the money is accessible. Banks often make a portion available (the first $200 or so) the same day while placing a hold on the remaining funds until a later date.

The good news is that mobile deposits can often be completed well after a bank has closed for the day. Instead of making it to the branch in the afternoon, you might be able to deposit remotely as late as 9 p.m. and still have it considered to have been deposited today. However, in some cases, it’s better to deposit in person with a bank employee—for example, if you’ve got a time-sensitive deposit.

Mobile Check Deposit Restrictions

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

Maximum Limits

There’s usually a maximum deposit limit that applies per day or per month, and there may also be a limit on the number of checks you can deposit. The dollar limit varies from bank to bank, but you can often deposit several thousand dollars per month.

You can usually view your limits inside the app. For example, the Wells Fargo mobile app shows you your mobile deposit limit after you select a deposit account and enter the deposit amount. Your limit might be raised if your account has been open for several years without a problem, and you can try asking to have it increased.

Permitted Deposit Types

You might only get to make standard deposits: checks made payable to you, as opposed to ones paid to someone else but signed over to you. If a check is payable to you and someone else, there’s a chance you can still deposit it in your individual account—if both of you endorse it and it’s not a large amount of money. Checks typically must be drawn on U.S. banks in U.S. currency. In addition, money orders are not always allowed.

Safety of Mobile Check Deposits

Mobile check deposits are generally 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. However, they may be able to alter the checks and cash them themselves.

Beyond this, reputable banks and credit unions use industry-standard encryption in their apps, so your account details should be safe. And check images and entered data are not stored on your mobile device.

That said, it’s best not to use public Wi-Fi for any sensitive information or anything requiring your bank password; use a secure wired or wireless connection or your mobile phone’s data connection if you want to avoid broadcasting sensitive information. This way, you can benefit from the convenience of mobile check deposits while protecting your financial information.