The U.S. Federal Reserve Board regulates the maximum amount of time a bank can take to clear a deposited check, but the minimum time periods for check clearing vary from one bank to another. Ask your institution about its policies. You may find small, independent banks clear checks faster than big chain banks, especially if you have a solid history of fiscal responsibility and a long-term banking relationship.
Ask for Funds Verification
If you need money from a check the moment you deposit it, ask your bank teller, in person, if she can call the check issuer to verify funds are available. Not every bank will comply, but if the check originates from a local branch or is written by a large company the bank does regular business with, it may release the full check amount at one time. A check issued from the same bank you're making your deposit with should also clear right away, or by the next business day, depending on when it's deposited.
Deposit Early in the Day
Banks have policies about how they determine what constitutes a "business day." Checks deposited after a certain time will be processed the following business day. Checks deposited in person typically clear faster than checks deposited via ATM. Ask the teller when funds will be available for withdrawal. Some banks will release a portion of the money right away and hold the rest per their policy.
Maintain a Consistent Balance
Banks are more likely to clear your deposited check right away if they see you have funds in your account to cover the check amount. If you're regularly overdrawn or have had checks returned for insufficient funds, the bank may insist on a hold, but if you're a customer in good standing, ask for leeway. Having multiple accounts at the bank, like savings, checking, money market and credit cards, or an auto loan or mortgage, makes you a better risk. New accounts are also more subject to hold delays.
Know Your Rights
Banks must provide information regarding their check clearing and hold policies. Cashier's checks, money orders, government checks, certified checks, electronic transfers and cash deposits should all be made available for withdrawal no later than the following business day. If you believe your bank is not following federal guidelines, contact the FRB to lodge a complaint.