Can You Withdraw Funds Out of Your Bank Account Balance?

Not being familiar with the rules regarding bank account withdrawals can be costly.

Sep 5, 2015 at 11:00PM

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Your bank account balance is a bit different from your funds available. Photo: MyFuture.com

If you're wondering whether you can withdraw funds out of your bank account balance, the answer is a resounding yes! -- kind of.

The answer is yes because your bank account balance shows you how much money you have in your account. That money is there for you withdraw or leave in place, perhaps in order to collect interest payments on it.

The answer isn't completely yes, though, because your balance may not be exactly what it seems. It does reflect how much money your account is worth, but some funds in it may not be available quite yet. If you've recently deposited a check, for example, it may not have cleared yet. Deposited checks can take several business days to clear. The folks at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, or CFPB, explain  it this way: "Generally, if you deposit a check for $200 or less in person to a bank employee, you can access the full amount the next business day. If you deposit more than $200, you can access $200 the next business day, and the rest of the money the second business day."

It's not as simple as that, either, because banks and credit unions consider a business day closed at different times of the day. So if you deposit a check at your bank at 3:30 pm on a Monday and your bank considers its business day closed at 3:00 p.m., you may not get access to the first $200 of your deposit the next day, Tuesday, because your bank will consider it as having been deposited on the next business day (Tuesday), even though the calendar at the time of deposit said Monday.

The CFPB also wants consumers to know that deposits can clear especially quickly if they're made from an account at the same bank, from a government check, or via cash, money order, or certified check. They can take extra long to clear if they're for large sums, are deposited via an ATM that doesn't belong to your financial institution, seem problematic in some way, or if you're a new account holder or you've bounced too many checks lately.

Thus, the trick to knowing how much you can actually withdraw from your bank account is to look not at the listed balance, but at your "funds available." You might ask a teller at the bank what your available funds are, or you can look it up online via online banking.

This might seem like a minor topic, but not being familiar with the rules can be costly. The median charge for a single bounced check was recently around $35, according to findings by The Pew Charitable Trust. 

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