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How to Make a Cash Deposit — Including at an Online Bank

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There are several ways you can deposit cash into a bank account: You can go to your local bank branch, make a deposit via an ATM or even convert your cash into a money order to deposit your money into your online bank account. Here’s what you need to know about making a cash deposit.

How to make a cash deposit

Go to your local bank or credit union

Depositing cash at a bank or credit union in person is the most traditional way to make a cash deposit. If you have a checking or saving account at either a bank or credit union, you can go directly to the teller at a brick-and-mortar branch to make a cash deposit.

You will typically need to fill out a deposit slip, providing your name, account number and the amount of your cash deposit. You will pass this slip to the teller along with the cash you are depositing.

If you’d like to deposit cash but don’t have a bank account, opening an account is typically a fairly simple process.

Fees: Banks don’t charge you to deposit funds into a personal account. However, banks can charge a monthly account maintenance fee if some requirements are not met, such as a minimum balance or a certain number of deposits every month. Compare banks with the lowest fees to get the best deal.

How soon your funds should be available: A bank or credit union has until the next business day, at a minimum, to make your funds available, though your funds may be available immediately.

Deposit cash at an ATM

Another option is to deposit cash at an ATM. In general, the process of depositing cash at an ATM is as follows:

  • Step 1: Insert your debit card when prompted by the ATM.
  • Step 2: Navigate to the “deposits” screen.
  • Step 3: Select the account into which you will make your deposit.
  • Step 4: Enter the total amount of your funds.
  • Step 5: Insert your cash into the ATM. Some machines may ask you to put the cash in a provided envelope, while others allow you to deposit a stack of up to 30 bills.
  • Step 6: Be sure to get a receipt that confirms your cash deposit, just in case there is some issue with it being credited to your account.
  • Step 7: Remove your debit card.

You don’t have to go to your local branch to deposit funds at an ATM — you can use any ATM associated with a bank where you currently have an account. However, you will first want to check whether the ATM accepts cash deposits, as not all do.

If you do your banking with a large national bank, this should make it relatively easy to find an ATM through which to deposit your cash. If you have an account with a smaller bank or credit union, however, you may have a harder time finding an ATM.

Some banks and credit unions have partnerships with ATM networks that allow you to deposit funds free of charge using in-network ATMs. If your bank or credit union doesn’t have a partnership with a larger ATM network, chances are you’ll either be charged a service fee for trying to deposit cash, or the ATM simply won’t accept your deposit.

You also may be able to deposit cash at an ATM that doesn’t belong to your bank, though some banks charge you a fee for doing so. For example, with the Chase Premier Plus Checking account, only your first four non-Chase ATM transactions per statement are free. After that, you’ll face a $2.50 fee. You could also be charged a fee from the ATM operator.

Fees: Using a non-network ATM could result in a fee from your bank ($2.50 per inquiry is Chase’s fee), and you could also incur a fee from the ATM operator.

How soon your funds should be available: Cash deposits to an ATM should be available immediately, although your bank technically has until the second business day after your deposit to make them available.

How can you deposit cash to an online bank?

Finding out how to deposit cash into an online bank with no physical branches can be one of the trickier elements of online banking, but you do have options. Here’s what you can do if your bank doesn’t have a location you can visit:

  • Use an ATM in the online bank’s network: Most online banks have a partnership with an ATM network where you can deposit your funds. For example, online-only Ally Bank has a partnership with Allpoint ATMs that allows you to make no-fee transactions at those particular ATMs. Compare online bank accounts to assess the size of their ATM networks. If you decide to do all your banking at online-only banks, you’ll want ATMs that are convenient to your location.
  • Deposit cash to a local account and then make a transfer: If you have an account through a bank that does have a brick-and-mortar location, you could opt to make a cash deposit there before transferring the money through a service such as Zelle, or directly through your online bank’s website. Keep in mind that there are limits on how much money you can transfer each day. For example, Bank of America allows a maximum of $3,500 to be transferred out of your account via Zelle each day.
  • Convert your cash into a money order: Chances are your online bank allows you to deposit checks or money orders through mobile deposit. You can convert your cash into a money order and then deposit it into your bank account. This is how online bank Simple, for example, recommends its customers deposit cash. There are fees associated with getting a money order, though. For example, Walmart charges a maximum fee of $0.88 per money order, while SunTrust charges $5 per money order.
  • Load cash on a prepaid debit card: If you buy a prepaid debit card and link it to your online account, you could deposit your cash onto the card and either spend it or transfer it to your bank through an ACH transfer. Remember, if you go this route, you could incur extra fees. Common costs include a monthly fee, transaction fee and even a balance inquiry fee or cash reload fee.

How much cash can you deposit?

Most banks do not put a limit on your total deposit amount, although you should keep in mind that, if you are depositing cash through an ATM, you can only fit a stack of 30 bills at a time — sometimes less. If you visit your bank teller, you should be able to deposit as much cash as you need.

That said, it can get a bit more complicated if you are trying to deposit more than $10,000 into your bank account, whether through cash or check. You are required to report any deposits of $10,000 or more to the IRS by filing Form 8300. This helps the IRS in its efforts against crimes such as money laundering or tax evasion.

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Strategies to Save

What Should I Do with My Savings?

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If you’re wondering what to do with your savings, we’d like to offer some tips on money management strategies you might consider adopting.

Keep your savings in a high-interest savings account

Keeping your savings in a high-interest savings account means you can earn the highest return on your money as possible. High-interest savings accounts offer some of the best interest rates on the market, and because they are highly liquid deposit accounts, you can access your money whenever you need to.

Advantages of a high-interest savings account:

  • Low risk: If you open a high-interest savings account at an accredited institution, Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC) insurance will protect your savings up to the legal limit if that your bank fails, so it’s a very low-risk option for your savings.
  • High rates: According to the FDIC, the average APY for traditional savings accounts is 0.09%. Meanwhile, the best high-yield savings accounts available today can have an APY as high as 2.20%.
  • Easy access: Unlike less liquid options, such as certificates of deposit (CDs), high-yield savings accounts are highly liquid, which means you can withdraw your money whenever you need to.

What to watch out for with a high-interest savings account:

  • Fees: A high-yield savings account that does not charge fees is ideal. Do the math to determine if you’d really be making more over the course of a year after factoring in any fees.
  • Not an investment: The rates of interest you get with a high-interest savings account are pretty good, but they won’t grow your money at an appreciable rate over the long term. The interest on offer is enough to beat inflation.

Use your savings to build up an emergency fund

Building an emergency fund should be one of the main goals of your financial life. That makes building an emergency fund one of the most important things you can do with your savings. An emergency fund is like a personal insurance policy that prepares you for emergencies like unemployment, serious medical problems or divorce.

The amount of money you need in an emergency fund depends on your lifestyle and financial obligations. Here are some pointers to help you think about how much to save:

Emergency fund size

Who it’s best for

Three months

People with a steady job, no dependents or a dual-income family that could rely on the income of a single person.

Six months

Individuals with dependents or those with medical conditions that could necessitate regular, lengthy hospital stays.

Nine months

Freelancers or self-employed people whose income might depend on one or two cornerstone clients.

An emergency fund that’s built with your savings should help you avoid taking on high-interest debt when you face unexpected financial emergencies. And that brings us to our next point.

Use your savings to pay off high-interest debt

If you have money saved up and you also have a significant amount of high-interest debt — either from personal loans or credit cards — use some of your savings to pay down debt. How much you allocate to paying off debt depends on your cash flow, your debt repayment plan and factors such as your investment philosophy and how much you already have in an emergency fund.

Some high-interest debt you might want to tackle first includes:

  • Payday loans: If you are currently in a payday loan cycle, using your savings to boost your payments. Ending the payday loan cycle is crucial to your financial well-being.
  • Credit cards: If the interest you are earning on your savings is lower than the amount of interest you’re paying on your credit card debt, you’re losing money every month. That’s why it’s ideal to use extra savings to start eliminating your credit card debt.
  • Personal loans: If you’ve taken out a personal loan with a high interest rate, using some of your savings to make a lump sum payment toward the principal of the loan could help you get into a more secure financial position sooner.

Maximize your retirement contributions

Putting money into retirement funds is a great way to get the most out of your savings. If your employer offers matching contributions to your 401(k), you’ll want to contribute enough to get the full match. Contributing anything less than the full matching contribution limit means you’re leaving money on the table.

After you’ve maxed out your 401(k) contributions, you don’t need to stop there. You can save additional money for retirement by making contributions to an IRA.

When choosing an IRA, you can opt for a traditional IRA or a Roth IRA, both of which offer tax advantages depending on your situation. The difference is largely in tax savings. A traditional IRA reduces your tax liabilities today, while a Roth IRA is funded with after-tax dollars, which means eligible withdrawals in retirement are tax-free. Either way, you’re getting the most out of your savings.

Start investing in the stock market

Another way to maximize your savings is to invest. The stock market can be intimidating if you’re just learning how to make money in stocks; however, online stock brokers and apps can help you decide what to do with saved money. Here are a few investment apps that might be useful:

  • Robinhood: Allows you to invest in stocks, options or exchange traded funds (ETFs) commission-free and with a $0 minimum spend.
  • Acorns: Helps invest your spare change in ETFs. Though there are no trade fees, there are monthly fees of either $1, $2 or $3.
  • Stash: Stash allows you to invest in stocks, bonds or ETFs by help you buy fractional shares. Their pricing starts at $1 monthly.

When should you tap your savings?

Tap into your savings when emergency strikes, or when you need money for big life goals, like buying a home or paying for college. In addition, you should use your savings to support your quality of life in retirement.

When you lose your job or face major medical bills

Your emergency fund is in place specifically for moments such as job loss or medical emergencies. Common sense dictates you should cut back any expenses you can while you’re in between jobs or facing a serious illness. Depending on how you lost your job, you may be eligible for unemployment benefits, but these don’t always pay for all necessary expenses. Meanwhile, health insurance seldom covers all of your medical costs. These are the right moments to tap your savings or your emergency fund to shoulder the burden.

To meet your life goals

Everyone has different goals in their life that require advance saving to achieve it. This could be aspirations of homeownership or putting yourself or your dependents through post-secondary education. Maybe you dream of starting a business or perhaps you’re trying to start a family and need funds to do that. A big life goal is a great time to use your savings rather than using loans or credit cards to fund your dreams.

When you retire

Once you’re eligible to make withdrawals from your retirement savings accounts you’ll want to start doing so to help you reduce your work hours and enjoy the benefits of that time period in your life. Depending on what your retirement goals are you might also consider using funds from other savings accounts or investments to help make your life goals in retirement a reality.

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Banking

How to Open a Bank Account Online

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Opening a bank account online will require specific personal information and an electronic signature. Before you can open an account, you should consider your unique financial needs and take note of the offered account features. Here’s what you need to know about how to open a bank account online.

What do you need to open a bank account online?

It’s easy to open a bank account online, but the process will go much faster if you have all your information on hand before you get started. Here’s our list of what you may need to open your bank account:

  • Legal name: You’ll need to provide the bank with your full legal name.
  • Date of birth: This will be verified by a government-issued ID, so be accurate.
  • Address: Your bank may offer you different rates or features depending on your location. Your address will be verified before you finish the application process.
  • Social Security number: If you don’t have a Social Security number, you’ll likely have to provide an alternative tax identification number or a foreign passport. You might have to do this in person at the branch.
  • Citizenship information: If you’re not a U.S. citizen, be prepared to indicate your citizenship or if you hold dual citizenship.
  • Contact information: You’ll typically need to provide your phone number and email address. Be sure to use a secure address that you check often.
  • Employment information: Depending on the account you open, your bank might ask for verification of your annual income.
  • Driver’s license or state ID: Not every bank will ask for a copy of your driver’s license, but some do. Be prepared to have a government-issued photo ID available.
  • Co-applicant’s information: If you want to open a joint bank account, you’ll need the same information listed above for your co-applicant.
  • Signature: You might be asked to sign a signature card so the bank has a copy of your signature on file.

What kind of bank account do you need?

Once you decide to open a bank account online, the next challenge will be deciding what kind of bank account is right for your needs. Here are some options you may consider:

  • Checking account: A checking account is a useful place to keep money that you will be spending for your daily or monthly needs. You’ll want to find a checking account with low or nonexistent monthly fees that doesn’t charge you to withdraw or deposit funds. Compare checking accounts on our site to find the right one for you.
  • Savings account: A savings account is a good place to keep funds that you might want to access in the near future, such as emergency savings. Look for an account with the lowest fees and highest interest rate possible. Shop on our site to compare rates.
  • Money market account: A money market account is an account that pays interest based on what the current market rates are. These accounts typically earn a higher interest rate than a traditional savings account, especially if you are depositing a large balance. You should compare money market accounts on our site before choosing one.
  • Cash management account: A cash management account is essentially a blend between a savings account and a checking account. It offers both high interest rates and accessibility. In fact, cash management accounts are often called hybrid accounts or hybrid checking accounts.
  • Certificate of deposit: A certificate of deposit (CD) is a high-interest account where you agree to keep your funds deposited for a set period of time. You should compare CD rates before choosing one.

How do you fund a bank account online?

One major question you might have when it comes to how to open a bank account online is how to actually get money into your account once it is open. When you open a bank account online you usually have to transfer funds from an existing account in order to fund it. To do this, you’ll need the routing number and account number of your original bank account. Depending on the bank, there might be a minimum deposit required to open your account.

If your bank has branch locations, you might be able to visit a branch and make a deposit into the account, which could be helpful if you don’t have an original account to transfer money from. Some banks might also allow you to fund your account by depositing a check through photo or by completing a wire transfer.

Challenges of opening a bank account online

Opening a bank account from the comfort of your own home is typically easy, but there are instances where it may be better to visit a bank branch in person:

  • If you need in-person help: A personal touch can be helpful when it comes to managing your money. If you have a question about which bank account is right for you, it might be smart to visit a local branch and discuss your options.
  • If you’re not a U.S. citizen: It’s possible to open a U.S. bank account if you aren’t a citizen, but you might need to show extra documentation beyond the fields of the online form. In this case, it could be helpful to visit a branch.
  • If you’ve had an adverse credit event: If your bank runs a ChexSystems report that reveals a negative credit event in your past, you might not get approved to open a bank account online and should visit a location.
  • If you have thin credit history: If you don’t have any credit history, it could be hard for the bank to automatically verify your identity online. In this case, you might have to visit a brick-and-mortar location to complete the process.
  • If you’re a minor: While some banks do allow minors who are attending college to apply for a bank account online with proof of enrollment, typically people under the age of 18 will need to visit a bank with their parent or guardian to apply for a bank account in person.

Do banks check your credit when opening an account online?

Not all banks check your credit before you open a bank account online, but some do. A credit check can show your bank how well you manage your money by revealing any adverse credit events in your past.

If this is part of your bank’s process, the bank will typically access a report from ChexSystems, a reporting system that shows previous checking account history from banks or credit unions that report. This does not show information reported by credit card, personal loan or mortgage lenders. Instead, it will reveal any unpaid overdrafts or suspicious activity on your prior checking accounts.