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Guide to Depositing Cash

Guide to Depositing Cash
Melissa Brock
Melissa BrockUpdated April 23, 2023
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Editor’s note: Lantern by SoFi seeks to provide content that is objective, independent and accurate. Writers are separate from our business operation and do not receive direct compensation from advertisers or partners. Read more about our Editorial Guidelines and How We Make Money.
Despite the popularity of digital payments and online banking, many of us still carry, use, and/or get paid in cash. However, it’s generally not a good idea to have a lot of cash sitting around. How can you put that money in the bank?Fortunately, there are several ways to deposit your extra cash into your checking or savings account, including going to an ATM or your local bank branch. Even if your bank is online-only, there are several workarounds you can use to get physical cash into your digital account. Read on for simple ways to deposit cash into any type of bank account. 

How to Deposit Cash into a Bank Account

Whether you use a bank or credit union, you typically have several different options for depositing cash into your account. Here are some to consider.

Depositing Cash at an ATM

Many (though not all) ATMs accept cash deposits. If you have access to an ATM that does, you simply need to insert your ATM card, enter your PIN, and follow the prompts for depositing cash. Some ATMs will read and count the bills as you insert them, while others require you to enclose cash in an envelope (typically available next to the ATM). With an envelope, you’ll need to fill out the front, insert your cash, seal it, and then feed it into the machine. In some cases, you may need to fill out a deposit slip (which will typically be located next to the envelopes).

Funds May Take Some Time to Deposit

The cash you deposit at the ATM may not be available immediately. It can take at least one business day before your cash deposit actually shows up in your account. Typically, the deposit will happen more quickly if you use an ATM located right outside one of your bank’s branches.

Using Your Bank 

You can also walk into any branch of your bank and deposit money with a teller. To do this, you typically need to pick up a deposit slip (usually located in the lobby), write your name, your account number (it can be your checking or savings account), and the deposit amount on the slip. You can then give both the slip and the cash to a teller. In some cases, you may need to put the cash in an envelope (if so, the envelopes are usually located near the deposit slips). The cash you deposit with a teller is typically available right away.

How Do You Deposit a Large Amount of Cash?

You can deposit as much money as you want into a bank account, which means that you can make a large cash deposit in all the same ways as a smaller one. However, you might want to go with the in-branch method if you have a particularly large amount of cash to put into your account. That way, you can confirm that the amount is correct and address any errors with the teller.Depositing a very large amount of cash — $10,000 or more — means your bank or credit union will report it to the federal government. This rule is designed to curb illegal activities like money laundering.Also keep in mind that bank accounts are federally insured up to $250,000 per depositor in the event of bank failure. If you have accounts that go over $250,000, talk to your bank or credit union to learn more about your insurance coverage.

How Do You Deposit Cash With an Online Bank?

Online-only banks often offer savings accounts that pay significantly higher annual percentage yields (APYs) than the national average for savings accounts. They also typically offer state-of-the-art digital banking tools. However, they don’t have any physical branches you can walk into. So what can you do if you have a stack of bills you want to deposit into your account? Fortunately, you have a few options.

Look for In-network ATMs

Online banks will often partner with a national network of ATMs that you may be able to use to deposit cash without paying any fees. You can typically find a nearby participating ATM using your bank’s app or going onto the bank’s website. If you end up using an out-of-network ATM and get hit with a fee, many online banks will reimburse you. 

Prepaid Debit Cards

If you don’t have access to an ATM that accepts cash deposits, you may be able to use a prepaid debit card as a workaround. You can typically load these cards using cash (by going to a participating retailer or bank) and also link them to a bank account. In this case, you would link the card to your online account. After that, you can transfer the cash you loaded onto the card into your online account. Just keep an eye out for fees — some prepaid cards charge fees to open the card and/or reload funds onto it. 

Transferring from a Bank Account With a Physical Location

Another way to put cash into an online account is to deposit it into an account at a brick-and-mortar bank or credit union and then transfer the funds to your online bank account. This is why some people opt to have a checking account at a traditional brick-and-mortar bank and a high-yield savings account at an online bank.

Money Orders

Some online banks accept deposits by mail. If yours does, you might consider buying a money order with your cash (made out to yourself) and then sending it to your online bank. You can purchase money orders at grocery and convenience stores, banks, and the post office. Fees range from under a dollar to $5. While this is not the fastest or cheapest route, it can work. 

Using a Mobile Deposit

Another approach that involves getting a money order but is faster than using the mail is to use mobile deposit. However, you’ll first need to find out whether your online bank accepts mobile deposits of money orders. If they do, you can simply open your bank’s app and choose “deposit a check.” You then select whether you want the money to go into your checking or savings account, input the amount, and snap a picture of the front and back of the money order. Recommended: Can You Write a Check From a Savings Account? 

Never Send Cash in the Mail

You generally want to avoid sending cash by mail. The reason is that, should the envelope get lost or stolen in transit, there’s no way to track the money or get it back. You’ll simply be out the money. Checks are safer because you can cancel them if they get lost or stolen. Money orders are also safe because they can only be used by a specific person or company. If the money order gets lost or stolen, you’ll be able to track and cancel it.

The Takeaway

Even if you rely on digital banking and payment apps, you may still occasionally accumulate cash that you need to put into your bank account. Fortunately, there are a number of easy ways to do this. If you have an account with a traditional bank or credit union, you can deposit the money in-person at a branch or by visiting an ATM that accepts deposits. If you want to deposit cash into an online-only account, you can use an affiliated ATM that accepts deposits or buy a money order and deposit it into your account. If you have both a traditional checking account and an online savings account, you can deposit the cash in the checking account and then transfer it to your online savings account.If you’re interested in earning a high interest rate on any cash (or checks) you deposit into the bank, Lantern by SoFi can help. With our online banking marketplace, it’s easy to compare high-yield savings accounts based on annual percentage yield (APY), fees, and balance minimums.Lantern can help you compare online savings accounts and find today’s best rate.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you deposit your cash at any bank?
Is it possible to deposit cash without going to the bank?
Can you deposit cash at an ATM?
Photo credit: iStock/Boris Jovanovic

About the Author

Melissa Brock

Melissa Brock

Melissa Brock is a higher education and personal finance expert with more than a decade of experience writing online content. She spent 12 years in college admission prior to switching to full-time freelance writing and editing. Her work has appeared on Yahoo Finance, Entrepreneur, Investopedia, The Balance, FinanceBuzz, The Journal of College Admission, MarketBeat, College Finance, Rocket Mortgage, LeverageRx, Benzinga, Morty, Ally, and more.
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