The regulations that govern the availability of funds for checks you deposit in a bank are numerous and complex. In addition, almost every regulation has exceptions that banks can make, often at their own discretion. Some states also have laws that establish different hold periods than federal law. Check with your bank when you make a deposit to determine whether and why a hold will be placed on any checks you deposit so you understand exactly how many days you have to wait to access the money.
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Typical Availability of Funds Rules
When you deposit a local check into your account, the funds must be made available to you within two business days. If you deposit a check that's not local, the funds must be available within five business days. In both cases, the first $100 of the deposit must be made available to you on the next business day, unless the bank believes the check will not be honored. In general, the proceeds from government checks, cashier's checks, certified checks and teller's checks should be made available on the next business day.
Exception for Repeatedly Overdrawn Accounts
If you had a negative balance in your account on six banking days during the preceding six months, you had an overdraft on two days during the preceding six months, or your balance was overdrawn in excess of $5,000, the bank is not obligated to comply with the standard deposit rules, including the first $100 rule. The bank is permitted to place a hold on the check, and there is no maximum hold period specified in the regulations.
Exception for New Accounts
When you open a new account at a bank, the normal check deposit rules don't apply for the first 30 days. There is no limit to how long a bank can hold a local or non-local check on a new account. However, for government checks, cashier's checks, certified checks, teller's checks and traveler's checks, the first $5,000 must be made available on the next business day if deposited with a teller, and on the second business day if deposited through the mail or an ATM. The remaining funds must be made available no more than nine business days after the deposit.
Exception for Large Deposits and Suspicious Checks
If the bank has reason to believe the check you deposited won't be honored -- for example, if it is postdated or is more than six months old -- it can place an exception hold on the check. It can also place a hold on any amount that exceeds $5,000. However, your bank must notify you each time it places an exception hold. The notification must include your account number, the date of the deposit, the reason for the exception and the number of days the check will be placed on hold. If you make a deposit in person, the notification must be provided when you make the deposit.