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How to Deposit Cash

Kevin Payne
Kimberly Rotter, AFC®
By: Kevin Payne and Kimberly Rotter, AFC®

Our Banking Experts

Ashley Maready
Check IconFact Checked Ashley Maready
Many or all of the products here are from our partners that compensate us. It’s how we make money. But our editorial integrity ensures our experts’ opinions aren’t influenced by compensation. Terms may apply to offers listed on this page. APY = Annual Percentage Yield

Despite all of the advances in banking technology, people still love access to cash. Whether it's through withdrawals or deposits, cash is still king for many consumers.

Opting for an online bank as your financial institution can have many advantages, including fewer fees and higher interest rates. But there's also one big downside to consider: It's hard to deposit cash into an online bank.

There are pros and cons to banking through traditional and online banks. This includes how to deposit cash into your account. Here's a look at methods to deposit cash no matter where you choose to bank.

How to deposit cash to an online bank

Many online banks allow you to deposit checks via mobile deposit or by mail. You can also transfer money to and from other financial institutions. But figuring out how to deposit cash is trickier. It's a bad idea to put money in the mail, and internet banks typically don't accept mailed deposits. You also can't go to a local branch to hand your money to a teller.

The good news is you don't have to give up on having an online bank -- or resign to never deposit cash. You have a few options, depending on your online financial institution. Here's a look at them.

Use a linked ATM

Some online banks participate in ATM networks. If your online bank is one of them, you can deposit cash at the closest ATM.

Once you've found an ATM, take your cash to the ATM, fill out a deposit slip with your account information, and put the money into the deposit envelope. Then use your ATM card to make your deposit.

You'll receive a receipt when you deposit cash into an ATM. Keep the receipt until your money shows up in your account. This could take around 48 hours depending on your bank's policies.

Use a prepaid debit card

If your bank isn't part of an ATM network, you could consider getting a prepaid debit card linked to your online bank account.

Prepaid debit cards allow you to load money onto them in different ways, including visiting participating retailers to deposit cash. Once the money is on your debit card, you could transfer the money from the prepaid debit card to your linked online bank account.

The downside of prepaid debit cards is that many charge you fees to:

  • Obtain a card
  • Deposit cash
  • Withdraw funds

But if you shop around for a good card, you may be able to avoid paying fees. Some prepaid cards, for example, allow you to deposit cash for free at certain retailers, including Walmart. You can then use those cards to transfer money to a linked bank account -- although the process can take several days.

Make a local deposit and transfer money

If you still have a local bank account, you can make a deposit at your branch and transfer the money over. Unfortunately, some banks charge you a fee to move money from one financial institution to another. Make sure your bank doesn't before you do this.

This method could defeat the purpose of opening an online bank account since you'd still be stuck with a local bank and all its associated fees.

If you have a family member or close friend with a local bank account, you could enlist their help in making a local deposit. You could give them cash to deposit into their account and ask them to send the money to you using a service like Zelle or Venmo. These money transfer services are free and can be linked to your online bank.

Buy a money order

If you can't use an ATM, don't want a prepaid debit card, and can't get a friend or a family member to help you out, you could buy a money order.

Money orders can be purchased from the post office or retail stores. There's a small fee for buying a money order. The fee depends on the amount of the money order. Once you've purchased the money order, you can mail it to the address that your online bank provides for deposits.

This method costs a little bit of money and it can take time, since you have to wait for the mailed money order to arrive at your bank and for the deposit to be processed. Still, if you have only a very occasional cash deposit to make, this could be a good approach.

How to deposit cash to a brick-and-mortar bank

Depositing cash is easier with traditional banks. You have access to more convenient methods than you do with most online banks, like:

  • In person at a local bank branch
  • Your bank's ATM network

Keep in mind that ATM deposits could be subject to holds. Your funds likely won't hit your account immediately. Your best bet for quick access to your money is in person at a bank branch. The downside with in-person banking is that you're limited to specific business hours.

A lot of traditional banks have adopted modern banking practices. If your bank has a mobile app, you may have access to mobile check deposits too.

Choose the right approach when you deposit cash into your bank account

As you can see, depositing cash into an online bank account is more trouble than when you have an account with a local bank. But since online banks have many other advantages, it may be worth dealing with a few extra steps. Especially if you don't deposit cash on a regular basis. Online banks and brick-and-mortar banks both offer various ways to deposit cash when you need it. The right option depends on your preference.

Still have questions?

Here are some of the other questions we've answered:

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  • There are many reasons a person could find themselves holding a large amount of cash. For instance:

    • You sell something valuable, like your car.
    • You work for someone who pays you in cash.
    • You run a business where people often pay in cash.

    It's a good idea to protect your money by putting it in the bank. Not only would you then have the opportunity to earn interest, but you're also making it harder for the money to be lost or stolen.

  • There isn't a limit on how much cash you can deposit, but there are special rules that kick in on larger amounts. Banks are required to report cash deposits over $10,000 to the government. They also report certain related transactions in cash (or cash equivalents like money orders). If you try to prevent your large cash deposit from being noticed, for example, by splitting a $10,000 deposit over the course of days or weeks, those deposits are likely to be reported.

    Reporting requirements were created to prevent criminals from laundering money. Money laundering means hiding the origin of the money and taking steps to make it look legitimate.

    Assuming your cash is from a legitimate, legal source, the Feds aren't going to come knocking on your door just because the bank reports your large cash transaction. They might need you to document additional details, however, about where the money came from.

  • For the most part, yes. Online banks typically offer greater financial benefits (they pay more interest and they charge lower fees, or no fees at all) than their brick-and-mortar counterparts do.

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