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How Long Does A Personal Check Take To Clear?

12/27/2021

Most personal checks should take up to about two business days to clear — but, as you probably know, delays can and do happen — with frustrating regularity.

Expecting these delays can help you decide what percentage of each paycheck you should save and when you can pay money out of your account. Knowing that you might be waiting up to a week for your wages to clear can be an important consideration when planning expenses!

A quick tip to get around potential delays and continual banking charges, if you bank in multiple currencies, is to opt for a digital multi-currency wallet. With this method, you can make instant transfers and manage your balances all through your mobile phone!

But let’s rewind to answer the question; how long does a personal check take to clear? We’ll cover common delays and why it’s not always possible to have a predictable timeline.

Standard Bank Processing Timescales

Conventional banks operate according to an immovable series of processes.  

For example, if you’ve looked into how to get a proof of address without bills, to open a new account, you’ll recognize that it’s a pretty rigorous system.

The same applies to personal checks:

  • Most checks should clear in two business days, but some checking accounts require as long as seven days before your cash can be available.
  • Government checks or cashier’s checks can clear in one day, but the check may need to be issued from the same bank where you hold your account.
  • In some cases, you can access up to $200 of a personal check within one business day, but you’ll have to wait longer to access funds beyond that amount.

This lack of consistency is actually one of the core reasons many people are looking at digital banking alternatives. 

Common Reasons For Delays In Check Clearance

In the real world, banks don’t usually guarantee that any check will clear within a specific time frame. The service you get depends on all sorts of factors, such as:

  • How much the check is worth.
  • The status of your account.
  • How long you’ve been an account holder.

You’ll also need to factor in bank holidays and weekends. 

On a typical week, let’s say you deposit a check for $1,000 on a Thursday. You might get $200 available on Friday (the first business day) with access to the remaining $800 left pending until Monday, the second business day.

Still, delays can occur for a wide range of reasons throughout this whole process. 

One factor is that the bank or credit union needs to acquire the funds from the payer’s account. If that’s from a different institution, they’ll send the check to a clearinghouse to deal with the transactions.

Another consideration is that checks can also be categorized as risky. Usually, this is if they’re valued at over $5,525 or because your account has been open for less than 30 days. 

When a check is considered risky, you might be subject to additional account verification before your funds are made available.

Finally, if a check can’t clear because there aren’t sufficient funds in the payer’s account, you might find that a check bounces. 

In the worst-case scenario, you get your money, only to find that it disappears out of your account a day or two later — which could leave you overdrawn.

Alternatives To Personal Checks

If you’ve been stung one time too many waiting for a personal check to clear, thankfully there are several alternatives.

Many people assume that banks earn interest on ‘pending’ personal checks, but the reality is that it’s a standard part of the banking system. It’s rarely something you can do much about.

Wire transfers or direct deposits generally clear a bit quicker, especially for larger transaction amounts.

Peer-to-peer payment apps, such as Cashero money transfers, are significantly faster and have lower transaction fees, if any. These modern payment methods can eliminate the stress of waiting around while your cash floats in limbo.

Making larger payments to family and friends, transferring money abroad, or sending cash in a different currency? You’ll be far better off with these alternatives. Your payee will also receive the transfer in as little as 24-hours, with zero form filling.

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