How to Deposit Checks by Phone

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Banking has made dramatic changes over the past decade, thanks in part to smartphones and tablets. Instead of going to a local branch, more than one-third of consumers now rely primarily on mobile banking apps for their banking needs. Mobile deposit for checks makes it even easier, but you'll need to be aware of your lender's restrictions before you go this route.

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Why Deposit Checks by Phone?

Depositing a check using a mobile device has one huge benefit: It's easy. You just sign your check, snap a couple of pictures and wait for the deposit to go through. You can deposit checks while you're lounging by the pool, commuting to work or sitting at your desk.

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But the biggest benefit of mobile check deposits is more "big picture" than that. By choosing a bank that lets you do all your banking through your smartphone, you're freed up to choose an online-only bank, which means you can look for higher interest and lower fees. You'll only need to make sure you can get to an ATM if you need cash, but many online-only banks now offer fee-free ATM withdrawals.

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Requirements of Remote Check Deposit

If your bank offers mobile check deposit, some of the things you'll need to do before you make your first deposit include:

  • Download your bank's mobile banking app. If you've been doing your banking using a desktop or laptop, take some extra time to download it.
  • Ensure that your banking app walks you through the steps of capturing your check. Follow these closely.
  • Make sure you get the clearest image possible. Find good lighting and see that the check images are clear before you send them.
  • Check to see if your bank has daily mobile check deposit limits. For larger checks, you still might have to go to a branch.
  • Write the words "for mobile deposit only" on the back of your check where you endorse it. This is a federal regulation to reduce the risk that someone will intercept the paper check and try to deposit it after you've deposited it through your phone.

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Keep in mind that mobile checks can take longer to go through, so if you need quicker funds availability, a trip to a branch might be necessary.

How to Deposit Checks Remotely

The remote check deposit process can vary from one bank to another, but generally, you'll have to follow some basic steps, which include:

  • Ensuring that you're on a secure Wi-Fi network before you log into your banking app.
  • Logging into your bank account using a mobile device with a camera.
  • Finding the option from the main page to deposit checks. In the Wells Fargo mobile deposit app, for instance, "Deposit" is an option on the bottom bar. Select "deposit" to go to the next step.
  • Selecting the account where you want the funds deposited.
  • Inputting the dollar amount listed on the front of the check.
  • Setting your check, front side up, on a dark, well-lit surface and snapping a picture of the front of the check.
  • Turning the check over and snapping a high-quality photo of the back of the check, as well.
  • Verifying the amount of the check on the confirmation screen and finalizing the deposit.

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What to Do After the Deposit

After you've deposited the check, keep it on hand until you're sure your deposit has cleared. Look at your bank's security policies if you're unsure of how long to hold onto it. Eventually, though, you'll want to shred it to ensure that it doesn't fall into the wrong hands.

Although it can take a day or two for a mobile deposit to go through the verification process, you should see it listed on your pending transactions by the next business day. If you don't see it, make sure you didn't accidentally deposit it into your checking account when you wanted it in savings or vice versa. If it doesn't go through after a few days, contact the lender to see if there's a problem.

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