Truth Or Dare With Bank Tellers

Bank tellers may handle your transactions with smiles, but don’t think there’s not a lot of judgment going on behind those glazed-over looks. They see suckers come and go all day, and watch people make the same ill-informed mistakes again and again.

On The Best Article Every Day, personal finance blogger Miranda posts nine things about the way banks work that you may not know. Here are five of them:

*Your whole deposit isn’t instantly available — Most banks only let you immediately withdraw $50 or $100 of your deposit until the check clears, possibly on the next business day.

*Post-dating a check means nothing — There is no legal obligation for a bank to respect the date on the check. Once the bank gets its hands on the check, it’s fair game.

*Banks thrive on fees — Overdrafts are a top revenue source for banks, and ATM fees don’t hurt either. Banks love it when you screw up because they get paid.

*Getting fees waived is as easy as asking a teller — Some banks will waive a fee or two per customer every year with no questions asked.

*If you opt out out of overdraft protection, your checks aren’t protected — Despite recent rules changes, banks can approve checks and subject them to overdraft fees.

Check out the source link for the other bank teller “secrets.”

What’s the myth about banking you find yourself most often debunking for uninformed friends?

9 Things Your Banker Won’t Tell You [The Best Article Every Day]


Edit Your Comment

  1. dbeahn says:

    Post-dating. Again and again and again.

    • HungryGal says:

      Luckily I’m a little embarrassed about being such a space case and tend to PRE-date my checks. (Like, I write and mail my rent check on the 1st but date it the 28th.)

      • PatrickPortland says:

        Doesn’t the postmark kind of defeat that?

        • lordargent says:

          Hey I wrote it on the 28th and dropped it in the mailbox. Mailman must have gotten hosed up in the mail for a day or two.

      • elangomatt says:

        Yep I do this too sometimes with the rent check. I usually intend to write on like the 25th, but forget until the 1st. I figure I can use the slow mail excuse for a couple of days. Oh and if I say I mailed it at work, I can blame the mailroom for not giving it to the post office right away either.

  2. Straspey says:

    Some of these points may vary, depending where you bank.

    Chase regards a deposit of their own checks the same as a cash deposit. If I deposit a check from a Chase account into my own Chase checking account, and the funds from the payer are available, the transaction occurs instantly, in real time and the funds become available to me, and are withdrawn for the payer’s account, at that very second.

    Chase does this because the transfer of funds is “in house”, so to speak. But you should keep this in mind if you are the person writing the check because the funds will disappear from your account the moment the payee deposits the check.

    Also – I have a small overdraft line of credit which will pay for any checks I may write might exceed my balance. The interest on those funds is about the same as a credit card and does not incur any penalties, since the bank has cosen to extend me a line of credit. However, it does NOT include debit card transactions, for which I have opted out.

    If you are a regular customer at your bank, it’s good practice to get to know one or two of the tellers and be on a friendly basis with them because they will tend to be helpful.

    • madanthony says:

      my credit union typically makes funds from any business check (payroll, rebate, ect) available immediately. They only do a hold for personal checks.

    • lordargent says:

      But you should keep this in mind if you are the person writing the check because the funds will disappear from your account the moment the payee deposits the check.

      That’s how people should treat ALL checks.

    • FredKlein says:

      Chase does this because the transfer of funds is “in house”, so to speak.

      If only there were a way for different banks to communicate in real-time. Then you could deposit a check from one bank at another bank, and they could communicate electronically, and instantly be able to make all the funds available.

      I call it the inter-bank-webs.

    • BBBB says:

      Chase does this because the transfer of funds is “in house”, so to speak.

      It helps to ask the teller – if the teller doesn’t look it up (and they might not if they are busy, distracted, lazy, etc.), then the check might bounce that evening and you won’t know about for a few days until the notification letter arrives. Even if you find out (by e-mail or text) that evening, you will still get hit with a bounced check fee.

  3. madanthony says:

    One myth that lots of Nigerian and other scammers seem to take advantage of is that the funds being available from a cashier’s check means that the check was good. By law, cashier’s checks have to be available within a couple days, but it can take weeks to find out that they are fake – which is when the bank pulls the money out of your account.

    Scammers prey on this by having people mail them the nonexistent funds once they become available.

    • KaralynK says:

      I’m one of the people who is aware how this works and knows about check kiting scams etc… but what I’ve never been able to have anyone explain to me is why it still works this way NOW in the age of computers and electronic accounts and deposits. It doesn’t make sense to me that it couldn’t be verified in 24 business hours.

      Can anyone explain why this feature of banking has not changed in the last 30 years?

      • NYGuy1976 says:

        Official checks are usually made available next business day, which could be a lot shorter than 24 hours. All official checks I have gotten were actually drawn on “Integrated payment systems” and not the bank that issued it. Not sure if that makes any difference though.

      • mac-phisto says:

        it has already changed a lot (february of this year actually). the reason it used to take so long is b/c checks were passed thru regional clearinghouses. so, out of region checks would take this route: bank – clearinghouse – clearinghouse – bank. returns would have to travel that route both ways. figure a day between steps (b/c checks were sent via courier between each point).

        now, there is only one clearinghouse & all checks are sent electronically to/from it, so typically a check can go from bank to bank (& back) within the same day. however, there are still considerable time allowances within the system, so it’s not unheard of for the check to take a few more days on the return trip.

      • BBBB says:

        but what I’ve never been able to have anyone explain to me is why it still works this way NOW in the age of computers and electronic accounts and deposits.

        One way is to use a forged check on a real account. Initially, it clears. Then the account owner reports the forged check and the bank reverses it – this can take days or even weeks if the account doesn’t become overdrawn and the owner doesn’t see it until the next statement.

      • Acidsniper says:

        Well the answer to that is twofold.

        1) Although technology has increased, large corporations are typically years behind the curve due to the overhead costs involved with constantly upgrading their infrastructure.
        2) It takes that long to clear due to multiple reasons, first and foremost is Reg CC which is federal laws stating how check processing, funds availability, etc are handled. The second is that the 419 scammers typically draw drafts off of stolen account numbers, so when the check is initially processed the funds are available and good so the check is cleared, however the company or person that that check was just drawn off of now sees an accounting discrepancy and disputes it with their bank. Once the check is found to be fruadulent it’s reported to the depositors bank as such and the funds are then removed from the account that the check was deposited into.

        One of the biggest problems with all this is the privacy laws in the US. While they are supposed to protect the consumer, they simply just make the whole process take a hell of a lot longer than it should since Bank A can’t just call up Bank B and say “hey I’ve got John Doe here trying to deposit a check from Jane Doe, are the funds good?”. While something like that sounds that simple, both banks would be violating secrecy laws as Bank A would be divulging that John Doe maintained an account at their institution and Bank B would be divulging account balance information on their client.

        It’s all one big PITA, trust me.

  4. NYGuy1976 says:

    One thing people should know about Chase in particular is that in the NY tri state area they do not cash any checks for a non customer. A lot of people assume you can write a check to anyone and they can just go to the bank and cash it. Not Chase.

    • blivet says:

      This infuriates me. The check is drawn on their bank, with instructions to pay a certain sum of money to a certain individual. What justification does the bank have for not cashing it, if the funds are available?

      • NYGuy1976 says:

        I don’t believe that any bank is forced to cash anything. Technically it is a convenience but probably 99% of banks do it so people just assume thats the way banks work. I have asked Chase specifically about why they do that when BofA, TD, etc will cash anything. They said its because NY has massive fraud. Chase outside of the NY area will cash checks for a couple dollar fee I think.

        • Difdi says:

          That’s true. The person you go after (civil or criminal) if you’re paid with a check and the bank won’t cash it is the person who wrote it, not the bank. The person who wrote it then has legal standing to sue their bank for not honoring their check. But few people do this, because they either don’t know they should, or it’s too much trouble. So banks get away with that screwy policy.

    • tbax929 says:

      They’re not the only bank with that ridiculous policy, either. I wrote my mom a check from a credit union I’ve since fired, and they wouldn’t cash the check when she took it there unless she opened an account with them or paid a $5 fee. Not only did they lose a current customer over that BS, they lost a potential one (my mother).

      • jesirose says:

        It doesn’t sound like your mom is much of a potential customer, if she wasn’t interested in opening an account.

        Most banks that cash checks for non account holders charge a fee. I’ve never encountered one that didn’t.

        • Rectilinear Propagation says:

          Just because she didn’t want to open one right that second just to avoid a fee doesn’t mean that she wouldn’t have later had they not had that rule.

  5. H3ion says:

    Most of the processing is electronic. I’ve had checks clear that were endorsed by the wrong payee (I mixed up checks and envelopes), checks go through with no signature, and checks go through with a signature by someone who was not on the account. As long as the magnetic numbers on the bottom don’t trigger a response, the check will most likely clear.

    • Erika'sPowerMinute says:

      Yep. I did books for a nonprofit that had explicit controls on the account where checks required two signatures, neither of which could be the payee. When I came on board I found a dozen or more checks made out to Foolio Z. Impropriety, signed by (only) Foolio Z. Impropriety. I inquired at the bank and they were all, “Huh? Yeah, well, whatcha gonna do.”

      Also, my kid pulled the wrong check out of my wallet to put in the offering plate at church; it was made out to me (I was gonna deposit it in the ATM later), not countersigned or anything, and my church deposited it without noticing that the payee was Erika P. Minute, not St. So-and-So’s Denomination Church. The bank didn’t catch it either and it slid right through.

  6. Corinthos says:

    I’ve had a teller bring to my attention that a check was post dated and asked me if I still wanted to cash it. I didn’t because I knew the person and it was a wedding present.

  7. LACubsFan says:

    Who still uses checks? besides my mom

    • TasteyCat says:

      I write 1 check per month for rent, and 2 per quarter for taxes. That aside, I don’t get the purpose of checks. Most of the transactions that come out of my checking account are ACH, but I try to use credit for as much as possible, for the convenience and the rewards.

      I work in billing, though, and I see checks all the time. I don’t know what century some people live in.

      • Straspey says:

        A few years ago I did a free-lance job for a large organization. After the job was completed, I spoke to a person in the finance department, inquiring where and to whom I should send my invoice.

        The woman told me that I would be paid as a “vendor” and that system only used direct deposit, which would require me to provide them with my checking account and social security numbers, as well as the bank’s routing number.

        As it happened, that particular organization had been in the news recently concerning one of those “lost laptop” incidents where thousands of people had their social security numbers compromised.

        I politely declined to provide the information requested and told them to let me know when they could arrange to mail me a check – which they did in a reasonable amount of time.

    • Minze says:

      I’ve written 2 checks this year. Both as wedding gifts.

    • Warble says:

      About six weeks ago, I finally used the last of the single box of checks that I got when I opened my account six years ago. It worked out pretty well, since I was closing that account. :)

      I wish I could get checks out of my life entirely, but the fact is that there’s still no better way for moving significant sums of money between individuals (screw Paypal), and most places don’t have alternatives for paying rent, unless you want to pay for a money order every month like a sap. As far as I can see, my pace of writing 1.1 checks per month will continue unabated.

      • lordargent says:

        I use billpay for everything now.

        If a payee isn’t in the system, then the bank drafts a check and sends it to them.

        /At the very least, it saves me from ever having to buy stamps.

        /The last check I wrote was to get a passport. Payment had to be sent in with the application.

        /I write about three physical paper checks per year, which means that the box of about 100 checks that I have is going to last me quite some time.

    • hansolo247 says:

      Rent. Any other method of payment incurs some kind of fee.

    • KyBash says:

      I’ll never pay another doctor/lab/clinic bill by credit or debit card again. I did years ago, and ever since they’ve all billed that card before sending me a bill or in any way notifying me what I owed or what they were charging. They all said it was a one-time payment, but each and every one of them lied. They all said they’d remove my info, but they never do, and they said they would not charge the card again without contacting me, but they never do.

      Checks forever! It’s the ONLY one-time payment method for paying bills by mail.

      • rambo76098 says:

        Get a new debit or credit card number if this happens. Tell the bank you suspect your CC number was stolen and they will kill the number instantly, any charges to it get denied. Did this when I was hit with a reoccurring charge that I tried to cancel with the merchant but was not successful. Worked like a charm!

    • tbax929 says:

      Most people who rent. My complex has no ability to accept online paying, and the one time I used my bank’s bill pay for rent, they sent a live check which was so late I got hit with a late fee. So now I just drop off a check in the drop box every month.

      I also pay my hair dresser with checks because she doesn’t have a credit card machine.

    • MikeM_inMD says:

      I still pay small and non-recurring bills with check. That is mostly various medical bills and annual subscriptions. Oh, and the overpriced things I buy from the neighborhood Cub Scouts and Girl Scouts.

    • Brie says:

      I write checks to 1) my homeowners’ association, because I don’t trust their finance company to not magically change an X monthly autopay to a Y monthly autopay; 2) Comcast, because their office is next to the grocery store and the last time I looked into it, online payments to Comcast STILL took five to seven days to post; and 3) my kids’ school-related stuff. Actually the Lifetouch school portrait people had an option to pay online, but they wanted me to create a registration which I didn’t want to deal with so I sent checks in the order envelopes Lifetouch sent home. And to their credit, Lifetouch processed the checks electronically so those payments squared away quickly. Unlike the PTA.

    • myCatCracksMeUp says:

      I leave a check in my house for the cleaners who come every two weeks. That’s the only type of payment they take. Besides that, I also give gifts for weddings and graduations that way.

    • catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

      i use them at goodwill if i want to buy something that’s more than the $10-20 i usually have on me. they only take cash or checks. at the rate i use them [one or two a year] i’ll have paid off my mortgage before i use up the checks that came with my checking account 6 years ago. they have an address on them i haven’t lived at in three years but goodwill doesn’t care

    • Mulva says:

      If you have school-age children: many PTO/PTA’s only accept checks. Our school also takes only cash or checks, although our district allows us to use Visa/MC/Discover online to pay school fees and to add money to their lunch account. I also send checks rather than cash to school via backpack because, while I trust my daughter, I do not trust other kids as much or at all. A misplaced or dropped envelope with cash + 9 year old kid with a less developed or non-existing conscience = bye-bye cash

      Girl Scouts, Cub/Boy Scouts, some park districts are still in the dark ages.

    • ginnel says:

      I just paid the man who installed my new furnace, the men who replaced my roof, my quarterly sewer bill, and sent a graduation check to a friends child, all with checks. None of these were able to accept a card and I wasn’t about to pay with cash. To imply that only “old” people use checks is ridiculous. If you are able to handle all your business with cards or automatic payments —good for you. I use what I have to at the appropriate time.

    • athensguy says:

      Exactly! There are things that don’t take any payments other than Check or Money Orders, but there is something that those replying to you might have forgotten…billpay! There are a couple of things I pay monthly that wouldn’t take anything but checks, but I still don’t have to go through the hassle of finding my checkbook, getting together an envelope with postage and mailing them. I just queue up a payment in Billpay and go on about my business.

    • rambo76098 says:

      I agree. I’m 23 and I’ve only used a check once. If someone wants a check, I put them into my bank’s website and within 3 days a check is in their mailbox. Paid rent and now condo fees/mortgage, utilities, one time things, etc, all from the online banking. Bank guarantees the check will arrive on time or they will pay late fees or penalties up to $50.

      • AllanG54 says:

        So…YOU may not write the checks but still a check is sent. So, when you think about it, lots of people and corporations use checks.

    • selkie says:

      I still write checks for magazine subscriptions because it makes it infinitely easier to end a subscription- just not pay for another year- than having to deal with trying to get the magazine subscription mafia to end an ‘autopayment option’ on my credit card if I decide I don’t want another year.

  8. pdxguy says:

    It also depends on whether it is a consumer or business account. Business accounts generally obligate banks to follow the UCC (Uniform Commercial Code) with respect to financial transactions.

  9. Why is this on Consumerist? says:

    For whatever it’s worth, I work at a grocery store (that doesn’t have telecheck), and when we get checks that have no date, no signature, or the wrong amount written in either area (the #s or the written-out part) our bank sends the check back and we have to get the customer to fix it.

    • TasteyCat says:

      If I shopped somewhere with checks and they had Telecheck, I would not be back there. I will never again set foot in another Midas. They declined my check but couldn’t tell me why. My bank couldn’t tell me why. Telecheck couldn’t tell me why. Nonetheless, they held my car over the weekend so I could wait for my local bank branch to open. They tried to buy me off with 4 free oil changes, which I promptly threw away.

      • MaxH42 thinks RecordStoreToughGuy got a raw deal says:

        +1. We found out months after the fact that Telecheck was denying payment to our day care provider. We have never been overdrawn or bounced a check, so we still have no idea why. We now pay via EFT every week, and explicitly authorize each payment.

      • mac-phisto says:

        yeah – i have a major issue with that as well. although, i did a bit more research into the matter. the reason you’re being denied is because you don’t meet a predefined criteria set by both telecheck & the merchant. what is that criteria? sorry, that’s privileged information, but it could include:
        -your age
        -your zip code
        -your check #

        all of these criteria (& i’m sure many more) are used by telecheck to determine if you are a valid risk when they don’t see any past payment history in their database.

    • gman863 says:

      It’s 2010. Douchebags who still tie up the grocery line by writing out a check versus using a debit card should be shot on sight.

      • elangomatt says:

        Douchebags who get pissed off at people for writing checks at the grocery store should be shot on sight. But yeah, I wish everyone would use their debit card in line though since checks take so much longer to write out. I even get frustrated at my own mother for writing checks.

      • Rachacha says:

        Lots of people do, and they all seem to get in front of me and stand in front of the cashier with their checkbook open while the cashier is scanning their items. What really annoys me is when instead of filling in all or the pertinent information like date, payee and memo waiting only for the amount while scanning is going on, they wait until the transaction is complete to start writing the check

      • Rectilinear Propagation says:

        1) Not everyone can get a debit card. They’ll run a credit check before giving you one and if they don’t like what they find they’ll won’t give you one.

        2) It’s not reasonable to expect someone to leave all of their items at the counter if their card turns out to be lost/stolen, damaged, or otherwise unusable instead of just writing a check.

    • Acidsniper says:

      That’s your grocery stores fault for not ensuring the check is properly drafted, not the banks.

  10. There's room to move as a fry cook says:

    Chase bank. Cash is not cash. Cash deposits at a teller after 3pm may not clear until the next business day. Sometimes they do, sometimes they don’t. Cash deposits after 3pm on Friday may not be available to cover checks/EFTs until early Tuesday morning.

  11. sir_eccles says:

    I found out recently that there at least three different levels of personal check and each takes a different length of time to clear. From shortest time to longest time:
    – same bank locally
    – different bank locally
    – out of state bank (could take 7 days or more)

    • calchip says:

      Any US bank taking 7 days to clear a check on another US bank these days is simply gouging and ripping off the customer. Since Check21 went into law, banks no longer have to provide paper copies of checks to the issuing bank to get paid; it’s all electronic with scans. Therefore, any check can be cleared in 24 hours or less.

      If your bank is putting these sorts of holds on your deposited checks, and you’ve been semi-reasonable with your account (haven’t deposited a ton of checks that have been returned, or bounced a bunch yourself) then bitch at the bank and get them to remove the hold, or find a new bank. A 7 day hold is simply a way for the bank to make interest on your money.

      • sir_eccles says:

        To put my comment into context. I found this out in relation to Arizona’s “Good funds” laws in relation to property purchases. For same day closing you must wire the money. Cashiers checks take a day to clear, local checks 3 days, non-local checks 7 days.

        I’m originally from the UK where cheques have been virtually eliminated from general use and they clear much quicker. Not to mention the much better provision for electronic payments that don’t involve the bank printing out a check and mailing it.

        • chocolate1234 says:

          They’re giving you the wrong information. The maximum they can hold a check is two days, local or non-local. The only way it can be held longer is if the check is suspicious, and in that case, they need to notify you.

    • mac-phisto says:

      this is old information. as of this past february, there is no such distinction between a “local” & “nonlocal” check. the fed consolidated all their clearinghouses into ONE region (cleveland), so there are no longer nonlocal (or “out of region) checks. ALL CHECKS clear thru cleveland now.

      here’s a good summary (PDF link) ->

      now, personal checks, regardless of where they are from, should be made available by the 2nd business day after date of deposit. THERE ARE EXCEPTIONS & a bank can hold checks for a longer period provided that these exceptions are met.

      banks are sneaky with these new rules lately, so keep on your toes. they expect you not to know about the changes & may try to hold funds longer than they’re allowed. if that happens, ask to speak to a manager & threaten to file a compliant with their regulators.

  12. Destron says:

    I have chase, and BoA. My paycheck is direct deposited and a percentage of it goes in to both banks, I always found it funny that with BoA that money is available at midnight, but with chase it is not available untill 9am.

    However as far as checks are concerned, tbh, I would rather them not be available until the funds clear. I have heard to many stories about people depositing checks, spending said money, then a week later the bank decides the check is no good and yanks the money back out, sometimes leaving a barrage of over drafts in the process. So really, even if I was in a bind and needed that money, I still would not spend it if it was available that day, and I have never deposited a check of any kind in to BoA that was not available that day or the next.

    I have also noticed with BoA, sometimes, I write checks for bills early, and tend to put the date I wrote the check on it, but I may not mail it until a day or two later, and it may be cashed/deposited as long as 7 days later, but when the check posts to my account, it posts on the date that I put on the date line and adjusts all my balance information around that check. So in theory, if i was on the edge, had $50 in my account until the 8th, but floated a check on the 6th, when that check went through they would post it on the 6th effectively over drafting me, possibly several times if I decided to spend some of that $50 I did have on several smaller transactions. This is the kind of stuff that gets people in trouble trying to beat the system.

    • Verucalise (Est.February2008) says:

      My credit union credits my account the day BEFORE something deposits. The first time this happened, I called and said “Hey, its August 31st but I see a deposit for September 1st in here. Do I have to wait until tomorrow to use it?” They said nope, if the money is showing, it’s in there regardless of the date next to it.

      … that was 2 years ago, and I haven’t had a problem yet. It’s great. I love my CU.

  13. Hedgy2136 says:

    *If you opt out out of overdraft protection, your checks aren’t protected — Despite recent rules changes, banks can approve checks and subject them to overdraft fees”

    Even if they refuse to pay the check, they are going to charge you a fee for presenting it.

    • Verucalise (Est.February2008) says:

      I talked to my credit union about this. I had my account turned on to accept the overdraft fee and pay on a check, but to decline any debit card transactions when the money wasn’t there. I write about 3 checks a month, the biggest is our mortgage. I’ll pay the $20 to my bank for paying that then having to pay $20 to the bank for first denying the payment, then the mortgage company charging me another $30 on top of it.

  14. craftman says:

    “Your whole deposit isn’t instantly available — Most banks only let you immediately withdraw $50 or $100 of your deposit until the check clears, possibly on the next business day.”

    I’m probably going to sound like an elitist jerk, but really? Is a one business day delay so much that people risk having $0 in their account?

  15. roanoke says:

    Full disclosure: I used to work for a CU that charged this fee

  16. Saberpilot says:

    I can also tell you these things:
    1) The check thing also applies to Direct Withdraws and Reoccurring Debit POS.
    2) If you owe a company money, and they come out of your account? More than likely a bank will not be able to file a claim for you unless you have something in writing.
    3) With contracts/memberships? ALWAYS get something in writing. Or look it up first. If you don’t, when a claim comes later, it may be rejected if you didn’t do/because you didn’t do your homework.
    4) If you sign up for a payday loan, they will sign you up with other companies, who will write paper drafts on your account, and therefore will not have any claim. So be careful before your borrow.

  17. Rena says:

    I got bit by the release limit (whole check isn’t available for a week after depositing it) when out travelling. I only had to go in and ask about it and they increased it to $500.

    That post-dating doesn’t actually mean anything comes as a bit of a surprise.

  18. Rienzi says:

    post dating a check may mean nothing to the bank but it does to the payee. A post dated check deposited before its date cannot be prosecuted if it bounces.

  19. Difdi says:

    Oddly enough, the one I’ve debunked most often is that only a check printed by a bank and provided to a customer by a bank is a valid check. Many of my friends have actively avoided being able to print their own checks in the past, out of fears of being (somehow) arrested and jailed for counterfeiting. Instead they only use checks supplied to them by their banks.

    In truth, as long as all the right things are written on it, you could cash a cocktail napkin.

    • mac-phisto says:

      you could conceivably write a check on a cocktail napkin, but a bank doesn’t have to honor it. in reality, a cocktail napkin check won’t clear your account & no court of law is going to hold the bank liable for not honoring that instrument. same goes with checks made at home.

      if a homeprinted check doesn’t contain MICR ink, it won’t process correctly, which means that a person must manually approve/disapprove the item. it also means a person must manually enter the routing & account info (which can greatly increase the chances that a check will miss its destination). i’ve seen homeprinted checks returned RTM (refer to maker) specifically because of this.

      keep in mind that banks typically charge the depositor for a returned check, so if your homemade check comes back to me, expect me to levy a fee on you for that. in my state, i can legally charge you up to $30 for a single returned payment. that’s a lot more than a whole box of the bank’s checks.

      • BBBB says:

        I knew someone who wrote a check on a chalkboard, took it off the wall and helped the recipient carry it to the bank. (This was about 25 years ago.) The bank manager realized that it was a good PR move to go along with it (by the time they got to the bank they had accumulated a small crowd including a reporter from the school newspaper.) The recipient endorsed the check on the back and the manager hand canceled it. The recipient left with his five dollars and a good time was had by all.

  20. gman863 says:

    A few rules I’ve learned on deposit holds:

    1. At my bank (BBVA Compass), on deposits of over $5000 per business day, 50% of the deposit amount may not be available for up to 15 days. If getting a large payment from a client, I normally ask for two smaller checks versus one large check. If I deposit a total of $4999 on Monday and $4999 on Tuesday, any hold drops to (at most) 7 days.

    2. Screw rule #1. I have been with this bank for 20 years. If I have to make a deposit at a location other than my home branch, I ask the telller about releasing the funds immediately. If he or she is an a-hole; no worries: I get on my cell, call the branch manager I’ve dealt with for years and the hold disappears

    If you have been with your bank for years and don’t have a history of depositing bad checks, the branch manager has the authority to remove the hold or (at minimum) reduce both the time and amount of the hold. If they resist, find a local bank or credit untion without an attitude.

  21. caj111 says:

    Since ATMs sprouted up all over the place, and having a job that requires I use direct deposit, I haven’t been to a bank teller window in like 15+ years.

  22. chocolate1234 says:

    *Getting fees waived is as easy as asking a teller*

    THIS. I was always shocked at the number of people who didn’t ever ask for reversals. Just ask the teller if something can be done, and you’ll be surprised at how often they are able to help you out. Just remember to be polite.

  23. 401k says:

    The bank I work for has a thing called “bypass calls”. We tell you agents are immediately available, so we pull you out of the automated system, but we really only do it when there is something to sell to the primary account holder. Yeah, its all about the bottom line.

  24. mac-phisto says:

    Q: how many times can a bad check bounce thru your account?

    A: FIVE. a physical check can be presented against an account twice. then, it can be turned into an electronic payment & presented an additional three times.

    5 * $35 = $175

    & that doesn’t include:
    -daily charges that banks often charge nowadays for remaining negative
    -fees levied by the payee for returned items (upwards of $30 in most states)
    -court costs/fees that you may incur if the payee decides to take court action

    think about that next time you consider squeaking by for a few weeks on rubber checks. it’s expensive & it’s against the law. don’t do it.

  25. Ebriosa says:

    I work in a CU. The reason your mom wasn’t able to cash a cheque is because CU’s are typically members only – as in they won’t do anything for a non-member. It’s in their charter, usually. They are not allowed to do this by the different financial regulations they fall under. The reason given is that they do no reporting and can do no tracking for the non member. Your mom could have an overdrawn account and other things that require immediate payment and the CU would never know. And the CU would get in trouble if it ever became known.

    But at my branch, at least, since we know most of our members, you could have called us up and asked us to withdraw the same amount from your account and told us your mom would be picking it up. Same thing to you, but totally different to our reporting requirements.

    • webworm98 says:


      What is the difference if she went to her own bank & deposited the check? Then the bank sent to check to you and you pay the other persons bank. Also, technically another poster was correct you shouldn’t deny checks drawn on your own bank, because the depositor could possible sue you for not honoring his/her check.

  26. flipdad1 says:

    Tellers waiving fees? highly unlikely…

    And just an FYI, banks are NOT waiving fees any longer unless you have a very special case due to the overdraft legislation.

  27. thelauhingsun says:

    Back in college a few years ago I was telling a friend my sob story of when my card was stolen, and $210 of overdrafts were incurred because my 5 tiny charges from the previous night went through after the account-draining, $150 fraudulent charge that occurred chronologically later. How I was supposed to have anticipated the fraudulent charge before it happened, I don’t know, but Wachovia made the overdrafts stick even after they acknowledged and refunded the fraudulent charge…because somehow the overdrafts were my fault. This launched me into a tirade about the bank’s habit of switching around charges from greatest to smallest for my “benefit”, one for which I never asked.

    My friend actually sided with the banks. “Wouldn’t you want to keep up a good face to your landlord by not bouncing a large check?” Yeah…not at the expense of my ability to eat or buy gas to get to work and class.

  28. thelauhingsun says:

    Back in college a few years ago I was telling a friend my sob story of when my card was stolen, and $210 of overdrafts were incurred because my 5 tiny charges from the previous night went through after the account-draining, $150 fraudulent charge that occurred chronologically later. How I was supposed to have anticipated the fraudulent charge before it happened, I don’t know, but Wachovia made the overdrafts stick even after they acknowledged and refunded the fraudulent charge…because somehow the overdrafts were my fault. This launched me into a tirade about the bank’s habit of switching around charges from greatest to smallest for my “benefit”, one for which I never asked.

    My friend actually sided with the banks. “Wouldn’t you want to keep up a good face to your landlord by not bouncing a large check?” Yeah…not at the expense of my ability to eat or buy gas to get to work and class. It’s funny because my landlord ended up being the one who loaned me the money to get through the week.

  29. vdragonmpc says:

    I love all the Chase stories. Did you guys know that Capitol ONE bought them?

    Did you know that if you canceled your Capitol ONE card and are a current Chase customer your Capitol ONE account just got re-activated?

    Oh yes oh yeah new credit cards they are a mailing. Let the fresh angry customers oil up their torches and sharpen up the ol pitchforks.

    • rambo76098 says:

      That’s Chevy Chase Bank, not Chase Bank dumbass. And it’s Capital, not Capitol. I’m willing to bet the rest of your post is wrong too. Yay for spreading wrong information!

  30. dwarftoad says:

    The only things that matter on a check are the account number, and the amount. Maybe your name.
    Not the date, the signature, or even the bank logo or look of the check. You can laser print something that looks vaguely like a check and they will deposit it. This is how scams like this can work apparently: ,

  31. krom says:

    In college, our (foreign) Calc 3 professor asked us why his bank account had less money in it than what he put into it. We had to explain bank fees to him. Clearly there’s a somewhat better image of American life out there than exists here!

  32. soj4life says:

    Post dating a check is illegal because a check is your legal obligation to someone. Though a post dated check can be refused by a teller.

    And yes a program will mostly make a decision on your loan app, but that is only because a bank can make so many decisions that are an exception.