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How long do checks take to clear?

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Whether you’ve received a check from a loved one or you need to use one to pay a bill, not knowing when your check will clear can make budgeting your finances difficult.

Unlike most other payment methods, when you deposit a check the money isn’t automatically yours to spend. Checks can bounce or be put on hold if something isn’t right, meaning it can take even longer for the money to arrive in your account.

Find out how long checks take to clear and why there might be delays with our essential guide.

How long will my check take to clear?

A check will take around one to two business days to clear, in most cases. However, this can change depending on:

  • Your bank’s policy
  • The amount deposited
  • The money in the payer’s account
  • The type of check – i.e. international checks
  • Information on the check

For instance, a bank may take a few extra days to release the check if it is from a new payer or classed as a large amount – usually over $5,000.

What happens when you deposit a check?

When you deposit a check, whether it’s through your bank, local Money Services or ATM, you will usually receive a receipt. This indicates when the money will be available to spend.

During this waiting period there are several processes that take place:

    1. Your bank examines the check to ensure all the information in correct
    2. Your bank then requests the money from the payer’s bank
    3. The payer’s bank takes the payment from their account
    4. This money is transferred to your bank and into your account

This means, even though your check can clear (the funds are taken from your account and deposited in the receiver’s account) within two business days, it might take several days for the money to enter your account – even if it shows up on your available balance.

Therefore, it’s best to wait a few extra days before spending the full amount, as checks can still bounce at this stage.

Will I be able to access all my funds straightaway?

The amount of money you receive immediately depends on your bank and their funds availability policy.

Each bank will have their own funds availability policy, which states how long you need to wait to spend or withdraw the money from a check. As part of this policy, a bank may release $100 to $200 of a check amount instantly, then the rest over the next couple of business days.

If you do need the funds straightaway, cash checking is often quicker, as you don’t need to wait for your bank to process the check. You can do this through your local Money Services.

Why is my bank holding my check payment?

A bank will always hold your check deposit for at least one day in order to process the payment.

However, sometimes it can take longer for a check to clear. There are a number of reasons why this might be the case, including if the check is:

  • For a large amount (usually $5,000+)
  • From outside the US
  • Being redeposited
  • Suspicious – if it is a new payer or the details are incorrect, the bank may hold a check to investigate further
  • From an account where the funds aren’t available

The reason why the bank will hold off releasing your funds is because they want to be sure the check will clear. If you do spend the money before the check clears and it ends up bouncing, you’ll be liable for the money as well as any fees.

Why did my check bounce?

Sometimes, you’ll be notified that your check has cleared, only to be informed a few days later that the check has bounced. The main reason for this is the payer doesn’t have enough funds in their account to transfer the payment. The check can also bounce if it was filled out incorrectly or has passed the six-month period you have to deposit it.

It’s important to review the details and the date of a check before depositing it, as well as have confirmation from the payer that they have enough money in their account.

Cash a check with Money Services

Cash a check at your local Money Services to save time and money.

We are:

  • Affordable – our cashing fees start at just a couple of dollars with your Kroger Shopping Card, saving you money for the things that matter.
  • Quick – when you cash a check with us, your money will be with you in a matter of minutes.
  • Easy – with extended opening times and simple processing, our friendly store associates take the stress out of cashing your check.

Find Money Services near you

It’s easy to find your local Money Services with our store locator tool. Simply pop into your nearest store, speak to our friendly store associates and you’ll have your check money in no time.

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