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How to Make a Cash Deposit

Written by Chris O'Shea | Published on 9/3/2020


There are a variety of ways to make a cash deposit – from using an ATM to visiting a local credit union. The benefits of making a cash deposit instead of stashing cash at your residence include insurance via the FDIC, personal security and more. Below, we take you through how you can make a cash deposit, as well as alternative options you may want to explore.

In this article we will cover:

3 ways to make a cash deposit

1. Deposit cash at an ATM

The process of depositing cash at an ATM is similar to withdrawing cash at an ATM. First, search your bank or credit union's website to make sure the business provides this service. If it does, it's time to head to an ATM. 

Once at an ATM, insert your bank card and enter your personal identification number (PIN). Look for the "Deposit" choice on the screen and select it. If your bank or credit union requires envelopes for cash deposits, be sure to use them. If not, you'll simply insert the cash directly into the ATM. Keep in mind that some ATMs limit the amount of bills you can deposit at once.

Once the transaction is complete, double check that the amount listed on screen corresponds to the amount you deposited. Unlike depositing a check, which banks often hold for one business day, you should have access to that cash immediately. 

2. Deposit cash at a local bank or credit union

If your bank or credit union has a branch nearby, you can deposit cash there. Much like depositing cash at an ATM, a bank deposit is fairly straightforward. Once inside the branch, you'll fill out a deposit form and hand the cash and form to the teller. The teller will recount the money to verify the amount is correct. Again, these funds should be available immediately. 

3. Deposit cash at an online bank

You can deposit cash at an online bank, it's just a little trickier. Online banks might be less than ideal when dealing with cash, but they typically provide much better savings rates than traditional banks and credit unions

Here are some ways to deposit cash at an online bank:

  • Connect your account to another bank: Some online banks let you connect a traditional bank account. You can make a bank deposit then simply transfer the funds to your online account.
  • Buy a money order: You can use the cash to purchase a money order at a retailer or the post office. You'll have to pay a small fee – USPS charges up to $1.75 – but you can deposit the money like a check. Fill the money order out to yourself, then use your bank's app to deposit the check into your account.
  • Use a prepaid debit card: You could use a prepaid debit card for your cash deposit and then link it to your online account. Many of these cards allow you to load cash at retailers, though be wary of fees. 
  • Find an ATM: Some online banks have partnerships with traditional banks, which allow you to make cash deposits at ATMs. Once you complete the deposit, you can transfer the cash to your online account.

Are there any cash deposit limits?

There are some limits to a cash deposit. By law, banks are required to report any cash deposit that exceeds $10,000.

If you're attempting to deposit $10,000 or more in one single day, your bank will ask for your name, address, date of birth, occupation, taxpayer identification number and photo identification. The reason banks need this information is that large cash deposits could be a sign of illegal activity like money laundering. 

Alternatives to cash deposits

If you don’t have a traditional bank account, there are several alternatives to cash: 
  • Prepaid debit card: A prepaid debit card will help in situations like online shopping where using cash isn't an option.
  • Money order: If you need to pay rent or a utility bill, a money order is a smarter move because it provides a paper trail as a layer of security. 
  • Wire transfer. Many banks allow consumers to send and accept cash via wire transfers. You can visit a bank, credit union or wire transfer location to send the cash.

Cash deposits FAQs

Is it safe to deposit cash at an ATM?

According to the most recent report on ATM fraud from FICO, ATM-related thefts rose by 10% between 2017 and 2018. That's not a huge jump, but it is a reminder to take some basic precautions when you go to the ATM. Be mindful of your surroundings. Inspect the ATM itself for signs of damage, as that might indicate it has been compromised. Cover your hand as you enter your PIN.

How soon will my funds be available after I make a cash deposit?

Your deposited cash should be available immediately. If you're using an out-of-network ATM, there could be a short hold on the cash, though typically not longer than one business day.

Is there a fee to deposit cash at an ATM?

Depending on the ATM you're using to deposit the cash, there could be a fee. If you're using your bank's ATM, there usually isn't a charge. If you're using an ATM that’s not in your bank’s network, you could be charged up to $3.00 per transaction. 

What are the benefits of depositing cash into the bank?

There are many benefits to depositing cash into a bank or credit union. Your money, once deposited into an account, can grow with interest; this is especially true if you stash it in a high-yield savings account. The bank insures the money in your account up to $250,000, so if it goes out of business, you won’t lose your cash. Also, by having an active account at a bank, you're showing lenders that you're a bankable consumer, and thus banks could be more likely to approve you for a loan.

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