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Photo deposit: How to deposit a check

A woman makes Photo deposit
November 29, 2019

By Katie Pins

Despite mobile payment apps, debit cards and credit cards, paper checks are still a popular way to send and receive money. Whether you’re recently married, celebrated a birthday, or received a reimbursement check, you probably want to deposit those paper checks right away. Mobile deposit, also known as a photo deposit, is a safe and efficient way to deposit checks. You don’t even have to leave the house!

We’ll share the steps and helpful tips you’ll need to make a mobile check deposit.

Photo deposit steps

1. Download your financial institution's mobile app.

2. Sign the back of the check with a restrictive endorsement.

3. Find “mobile deposit” within the app and input the amount you’d like to deposit.

4. Take photos of the front and back of the check within the app.

5. Review your deposit details before submitting them.

6. Hold on to the check until it has cleared.

7. Shred the cleared check.

Download your financial institution’s mobile app

You’ll need a smartphone or tablet with a camera to take a photo deposit. If you haven’t already downloaded your credit union or bank’s app, you’ll need to start with this step. Here are some quick tips before downloading:

  • Watch out for fake banking apps. (Pro tip: Go to the financial institution’s sire and click download the app from there.)
  • Only use official app stores like Google Play or Apple App Store.
  • Keep your mobile devices up-to-date to help keep it more secure.

Sign the back of the check with a restrictive endorsement

You’ve always had to sign the back of your check when depositing it at a teller or ATM. This is called endorsing a check. Photo deposits often require an extra step.

When you use a mobile banking app to deposit a check, you may need to add something like “for mobile deposit only at [bank name]” below your signature. These additional words added to the back of a check help to protect you from fraud because this “restrictive endorsement” prevents a fraudster from cashing it if it’s lost or stolen.

For example, when depositing with the Alliant app, you should add the words “For Mobile Deposit Only at Alliant CU” below your signature when you endorse the check. Each credit union and bank is slightly different, so check — pun intended — with your financial institution before you endorse your check.

Find “mobile deposit” within the app and input the amount you’d like to deposit

Now that your check is endorsed, it’s time to deposit! You’ll take the photos in the mobile app, so there’s no need to take any photos beforehand. Before you open the app, make sure you’re not connected to public Wi-Fi and that you’re making your deposit in a private location where nobody else can see your screen.

Take photos of the front and back of the check within the app

Place the check on a flat, dark-colored surface. Make sure there isn’t a reflection and that the room is well lit. Your camera should be directly above the check instead of at an angle.

The app will most likely have a box to guide you. Place the check within the box on your screen until the image is clear. You’ll do the same for both the front and back of the check.

Review your deposit details before submitting

Once the photos are taken, you’ll see a confirmation screen. Review the amount and which account you want to deposit to before hitting “submit” on your deposit.

Hold on to the check even after it has cleared

A check could be approved immediately or it may need to be reviewed. A review status usually means that the check has been received but needs a second look for verification.

Many credit unions and banks will send you an email letting you know that your deposit was accepted. Until then, store the check in a safe spot away from other checks you still need to deposit. You want to avoid submitting a check more than once to stay on good terms with your bank or credit union.

Shred the cleared check

It’s recommended that you keep the physical check for 30 days. If it’s cleared after 30 days with no issues, then destroy the check to prevent fraud and avoid unintentional repeat deposits.

Mobile deposit limits and policies

To prevent fraud, there may be daily dollar limits for deposits. Deposit limits will depend on the account and how long you’ve been at the bank or credit union.

In most cases, funds from approved deposits are available immediately. If the check needs to be reviewed, the funds may still be available the same day. However, processing times may vary by financial institution, the day of the week you make the deposit and even time of day. It could take up to three business days to receive the funds.

If you have any questions or issues, reach out to your financial institution directly.


Katie Pins is a marketer fascinated with finance. Whether the topic is about the psychology of money, investment strategies or simply how to spend better, Katie enjoys diving in and sharing all the details with family, friends and Money Mentor readers. Money management needs to be simplified and Katie hopes she accomplishes that for our readers. The saying goes, "Knowledge is Power", and she hopes you feel empowered after reading Money Mentor.