How long for a check to TRULY clear?

Archived From: Finance
  • Page :
  • 1
  • Text Only
Voting History
rated:
Deposited a big personal check on Friday as payment for an eBay item. It is a check from an adjacent State. The money shows as available in my account today. The check was deposited at Bank of America through one of their "new and improved"* check scanning ATMs, if that makes a difference. The check is not from Bank of America.

I called BofA and "asked how long do I need to wait until the funds can't be reversed?". "Oh, we could take the funds back up to 60 days later if there was a problem with the check", said BofA. I doubt my buyer will wait 60 days for shipment

So, how long do I wait until the funds are near-as-dammit safe? Anyone had a reversal after the money was in your account, and after how many days?


*of course it couldn't read the check amount.

Member Summary
Most Recent Posts
Did anyone actually manage to upload funds onto their moneybookers account? Their CC "verification" process involves se... (more)

JermanDude (Aug. 28, 2008 @ 9:33p) |

You can always ACH the funds to a different bank

fasttimes (Aug. 29, 2008 @ 1:47a) |

And then get overdrawn when the check bounces? That's real smooth.

You'll be out:
1. the money,
2. the NSF charge, and
3.... (more)

sechs (Aug. 29, 2008 @ 12:08p) |

Quick Summary is created and edited by users like you... Add FAQ's, Links and other Relevant Information by clicking the edit button in the lower right hand corner of this message.
Thanks for visiting FatWallet.com. Join for free to remove this ad.

Good question. I seen reversal after more than 90 days once, somehow the check wasn't endorsed. Just because the fund is "available" doesn't mean it's "clear.

I would never accept personal check for eBay payment, ever.

lostdude said:
I would never accept personal check for eBay payment, ever.


I've never had problem with personal checks. I have had problems with PayPal. I figure I stand a better chance of getting my money back from a bad personal check than I do with PayPal.

ganda said:
I've never had problem with personal checks. I have had problems with PayPal. I figure I stand a better chance of getting my money back from a bad personal check than I do with PayPal.

In both cases don't you have to sue the payer across stateline? It seems to be the same problem.

nycll said: ganda said:
I've never had problem with personal checks. I have had problems with PayPal. I figure I stand a better chance of getting my money back from a bad personal check than I do with PayPal.

In both cases don't you have to sue the payer across stateline? It seems to be the same problem.


Removing PayPal (and credit card companies) from the problem would make it much easier IMO. I've never had to do it, but my understanding is that a bad personal check is a pretty open and shut case - if you need to sue.

Use US Postal Money Order if you do large transaction on fleabay. They can be faked like everything else but you can verify if it's legit quite easily, AFAIK.

You can call the buyer's bank and request to "verify funds". They'll ask you to give them the acct number off the bottom and ask you the amount. They can at least tell you if the funds are there now or not.

Except that they can't, or more specifically they shouldn't. Most banks don't verify funds anymore because that is the equivalent of giving out some personal info. I work for a bank and to release hold we try to verify that funds have cleared or are availible. About 90% of the time we get shot down.

"Clear" and "safe" are different things when it comes to checks.

With Check21, most checks clear in five business days or less, no matter on which banks they are drawn or into which deposited. Your bank will usually make some or all of the money available immediately and, as long as the account on which the check is drawn has money, this is of no consequence.

However, the possibility of it, more or less, "unclearing" remains for some time. This is where you can get in trouble with your bank.

For small amounts of funds from reputable buyers, I wouldn't worry too much. Just make sure to include your hold time in your terms. There's not much, however, that you can do about "big" checks beyond not accepting them; as said, postal money orders are a better choice, since, once the USPS cashes one, they can't go back to you.

I actually talked with a Bank of America person about the possibility of a check being "taken back." And, yes, this can happen well after the check has "truly" cleared. That's why BoA and I'd guess just about every other FI have a funds availbility policy, totally separate from when a check clears, which is likely within 2 business days. (I think the check clearing process is all done electronically these days; i.e. fast.) If there's delayed availability for a check, you might see something like this:

$100 - available immediately.
$101 - $4999 - available within 5 business days after the FI received the deposit.
$5000 + - available no later than 11 business days after the FI received the deposit.

This is just an example; don't quote me.

The thing is, as noted above, the source FI could still request the check to be returned, well after the funds have been made available, and potentially used by the payee. I'm sure the FIs have determined that this occurs so rarely, that it's not a cause for concern, especially with their funds availability policies.

What seems to determine a FI's funds availability policy for a given check has to do with:

1. Size of the check, especially in relation to the account into which it's deposited.
2. Size of the check in relation to other deposits made to the account.
3. Customer/account history (length and/or problems, if any).
4. The type of check: personal, cashiers, etc.
5. Just a guess: Where the check is coming from.
6. Other factors that I'm overlooking.

It doesn't matter if it from a neighboring state -- only matters whether both use the same federal reserve bank for clearing. If so, it's faster.

I hold checks and money orders for 10 business days (except USPS m.o, which I cash at the post office). Last I checked that was sufficient. Never heard of the 60 days you mentioned.

USPS m.o. can be fake. I'm not sure how their system is set up, but every time I cash one they look at it with suspicion. They've told me they cash a few fakes every now and then. I have no idea how that's even possible with all the tracking information they have. Maybe the system isn't as smart as I'd expect.

Not the question you asked, but if I ever get a check from a questionable source, I go to the issuing bank and cash it.

Just recently I deposited a large check drawn on my BofA account into my IndyMac account. This was before IndyMac went insolvent. The check showed up in my IndyMac account and I got credit for it. That took five business days and it was available. When I checked the money showed up in both accounts as available. I called IndyMac and BofA and asked the CSR's about this situation. For awhile my net worth had gone up by almost $100,000 plus interest. So I was happy but I knew that wouldn't last. Anyway I was told that eventually the available situation would clear up and be adjusted. It was about several days latter I checked my IndyMac account and was surprised to see that the money wasn't there. I then checked my BofA account the money was there and available. So when I asked the BofA CSR why that happened I was told that BofA pulled the money back because I didn't have a signature card on file with BofA. But actually I did. BofA was saying that because I supposedly didn't have a signature card on file the check was no good because they couldn't verify my signature. I was also told that a phone call had been made to me but I have an answering machine and no message was ever left. Anyway, I deposited another check for the same amount into Indymac and that time it went through without a problem. Then I went down to BofA and told them I lost interest, 11 days, because the money wasn't in my IndyMac account because of their mistake and they eventually paid me for 11 days of interest. I got the fees reversed at both banks since they weren't my fault in the first place. But I guess this situation could have gone on for quite some time if I hadn't checked and just waited for statements instead of just 11 days.

gosocks said: Not the question you asked, but if I ever get a check from a questionable source, I go to the issuing bank and cash it.

This assumes that the bank will cash it for a non-customer. Just because its drawn on Bank A does NOT mean Bank A is going to hand some stranger cash for it. (or if they DO cash it charge you an exorbitant cashing fee) You are not their customer, and if you DO start an account you run into the risk of someone stopping payment/disputing a check even if both accounts involved are with the same institution. The bank will HAPPILY charge the stop payment fee one way and an overdraft/refused payment the other.

BofA has never given me issues, but Chase has. Eventually I just deposited the #$%$#% check at BofA and took my chances. (the roomate that gave me the check wasn't the best with his finances, I didn't think there was a fraud issue at all)

Unforunately, it sounds like the check can "bounce" several weeks after depositing it. I took a personal check for the first time for an eBay auction but I demanded that it was from a large institution that had a branch in my area. This allows me to take it to that bank and cash it immediately. Doing something like this or taking a USPS MO is really the only way you can be "in the clear."

EDIT: Just saw the above post. Each bank may be different, I suppose. FWIW, a Wachovia rep said they would verify and cash their own checks for non-customers.

Chase does as well. It's $5 for non customers.

Once upon a time, banks would regularly surrender cash for a check drawn on an account they administered. Indeed, that's how the whole idea of "checks" got its start--it was a note payable to the bearer on demand. Some of us who are a bit older got it drilled into our skulls that it was critical to write "For Deposit Only" before our signature since signing our name without that statement would allow anyone to endorse the check again and use it like cash (or freely withdraw funds). As recently as the mid 1980s I regularly took checks to branches for cash without even a thought that the branch would refuse to honor the note.

Clearly the situation is different now--I wonder if it got changed around the time that the entire check back could no longer be used for endorsements and when handwritten checks were banned.

With a MoneyGram money order, you can call them to verify that the funds have been paid (usually a few days after you deposit it at your local bank). At this point according to their web site, "Once the money has been paid out to the person you name as the receiver, cancellation or refund is no longer possible."

soxfan1 said: Chase does as well. It's $5 for non customers.

Yeah, its just a principle. I refuse to pay a bank to cash their OWN check. Chase is the only bank I have ever been to that tried it.

moneybookers.com. it's like a blend of paypal and western union. fast and secure/garanteed cash for larger transactions. i do some international transactions this way. fees are very reasonable. remember this in the future.

ilikebtmoney said: moneybookers.com. it's like a blend of paypal and western union. fast and secure/garanteed cash for larger transactions. i do some international transactions this way. fees are very reasonable. remember this in the future.I remember e-gold.com

They made the same claims... until the FBI dropped by for a visit

ifyouhavetoask said: ilikebtmoney said: moneybookers.com. it's like a blend of paypal and western union. fast and secure/garanteed cash for larger transactions. i do some international transactions this way. fees are very reasonable. remember this in the future.I remember e-gold.com

They made the same claims... until the FBI dropped by for a visit


moneybookers isn't in the states, so FBI won't be touching these guys.

ilikebtmoney said:
moneybookers isn't in the states, so FBI won't be touching these guys.
Even better!

great for hookers and blow too!

I wouldn't do business with any offshore money transfer service. Too much potential for fraud.

I remember when Egold started back in 1996. Their concept was very libertarian - basically the gold standard morphed into a 21st century payment system. It sounded like a great idea. They were based offshore but very transparent in terms of how much gold was actually in their system.

Unfortunately they also offered anonymous transactions. As such they became the money service of choice for criminals, HYIP promoters, and scam artists of various sorts. Fast forward to today, according to the founder's blog they now have agreed to operate under US law and will be setting up a new type of more regulated service.

Conclusion: Just because it's offshore doesn't mean its outside the reach of the US government. And just as you wouldn't send cash through the mail, be wary of anonymous money transfer as well.

Moneybookers is an English company, so they are covered by EU banking regulation.

Did anyone actually manage to upload funds onto their moneybookers account? Their CC "verification" process involves sending a text message to your cell phone (???), and that SMS never went through. I use texting quite frequently, so the problem is not on my side, I guess. The only remaining option to fund you MB account would be wiring $$$ to a bank account in Frankfurt, Germany (sounds expensive).

[Sorry for hijacking this thread further, there doesn't seem to be a MB thread, yet]

sechs said: "Clear" and "safe" are different things when it comes to checks.

With Check21, most checks clear in five business days or less, no matter on which banks they are drawn or into which deposited. Your bank will usually make some or all of the money available immediately and, as long as the account on which the check is drawn has money, this is of no consequence.

However, the possibility of it, more or less, "unclearing" remains for some time. This is where you can get in trouble with your bank.

For small amounts of funds from reputable buyers, I wouldn't worry too much. Just make sure to include your hold time in your terms. There's not much, however, that you can do about "big" checks beyond not accepting them; as said, postal money orders are a better choice, since, once the USPS cashes one, they can't go back to you.


You can always ACH the funds to a different bank

fasttimes said: You can always ACH the funds to a different bank
And then get overdrawn when the check bounces? That's real smooth.

You'll be out:
1. the money,
2. the NSF charge, and
3. for whatever you were getting the money



Disclaimer: By providing links to other sites, FatWallet.com does not guarantee, approve or endorse the information or products available at these sites, nor does a link indicate any association with or endorsement by the linked site to FatWallet.com.

Thanks for visiting FatWallet.com. Join for free to remove this ad.

TRUSTe online privacy certification

While FatWallet makes every effort to post correct information, offers are subject to change without notice.
Some exclusions may apply based upon merchant policies.
© 1999-2014