Cash a check through your smartphone even if your bank doesn’t provide this service

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Checks are becoming a thing of the past, but you do get that occasional payment in the form of a check. You have to either mail it in or deposit it with a bank teller or in an ATM machine and within a certain period of time.

Some banks started offering the convenience of cashing a check using your smartphone. You take a picture of the front and the back of the check and transmit the images to your bank. The money is made available almost instantly!

But then, very few banks offer this convenience.

If your bank doesn’t offer eCheck deposit service, you can still cash the check without leaving your home, via PayPal. PayPal offers both an Android and iPhone/iPod touch app that lets you deposit checks remotely. As far as I know, this service is not available through PayPal’s website.

I decided to take this app for a spin! Here’s how it works:

Depositing a check through PayPal

  1. Download PayPal’s Android or iPhone app. It is free!

  2. Log in to PayPal and select My Account
    PayPal - add money from checks

  3. Select Add Money from Checks

  4. Enter the amount on the check

  5. Using your smartphone’s camera take a picture of the front and back of the check. Make sure the images are within the edge guides
    PayPal - Add a check

  6. The app will automatically crop the images so that only the check image is taken discarding the background. That was actually pretty neat!
    PayPal - check capture

  7. It takes a few days for the money to show up in your PayPal account. Once the money is made available, transfer it to your bank!
    PayPal - process check

  8. Paypal advices you to hold on to the physical check for about 15 days

Limitations

Of course, there are some limitations. There is a limit of $1000 a day for a maximum of $3000 a month. With my credit union, I have access to the money instantly. With PayPal you have to wait for about 6 days. Most banks that offer check deposit via a smartphone also offer the same service via their website, for those with a scanner. PayPal doesn’t provide this convenience, yet.

Closing thoughts

For those who have a smartphone and a PayPal account but don’t have an eCheck deposit service with their bank, this is a clever alternative to physically depositing a check. Minimizes chances of the check getting lost or having to contact the bank for an image of the check!

Sure, it takes a while to get the money to your account (6 days for the money to show up in PayPal and another 3 days to transfer it to your bank), but sure beats going to a teller or mailing in the check! And PayPal offers this as a free service. No fees whatsoever.

Ah the joys of modern technology!

32 thoughts on “Cash a check through your smartphone even if your bank doesn’t provide this service

  1. Thanks for sharing this. I wasn’t aware the PayPal app had this option and I’ll definitely be trying it out. It could be a time saver.

  2. I’m truly amazed at the things I learn on your site. I wonder if PayPal profits by having use of the funds for a couple of days.

    • Thanks DIY! I’m sure PayPal profits by the interest earned. But I’m not complaining since this service is otherwise free.

    • I’m guessing they profit because people don’t typically transfer the money out–at least not immediately. That money will cause people (like me) to deposit money into their PayPal account when they normally wouldn’t have. And if the money is already there, why not pay from there? Makes perfect sense. I’m impressed.

  3. That’s pretty cool! One of these days I’ll have to get a smart phone. :)

  4. I tried the paypal deposit last weekend. Hopefully it will work out fine. Now my bank has online deposits too, so if I open a separate business account I will be set.

  5. I really like my bank, but no branch where I’m moving!!! I’m going to try and stick with them remotely, maybe try the deposit through an ATM. I have not gotten an android yet, I’m a real hold out!

  6. ahh.. one more thing I can’t do… they should let me take a pic with my regular camera and upload to their site, without a speical app.

    • You know Ashley, that’s a genius idea! I don’t see why not allow that! A regular camera can take better pictures than a smartphone anyway.

  7. I love this feature! I hate actually going to the bank to deposit checks. Great idea to share this option with others. I know Chase offers this service.

  8. I’m getting an iphone soon, so I’ll definitely be checking this out. I have USAA but I’m not eligible to scan in checks. This could be a great alternative to mailing them in for me, which I’m not a huge fan of.

  9. I’ll download this app on my wife’s iPhone this weekend. I can see how it will make some transactions much easier.

  10. Now that is some interesting stuff; if only paypal didn’t have that damn fee!

    • Darwin, PayPal does not charge any fees for personal transfers. (By default business is selected, you need to select personal tab to avoid fees)

  11. Very cool. Didn’t know this either. Thanks for the detailed tutorial!

  12. That is pretty clever. It’s pretty quick and easy for me to deposit checks into the ATM, and they get credited that same day as long as the deposit it made before 9pm. But this is convenient if for some reason I just couldn’t make it to the ATM. Thanks for sharing.

  13. Thanks for sharing this. I didn’t know Paypal’s mobile apps could do that. One day our phones will replace our entire wallets! -Sydney

  14. That’s pretty cool, thanks for sharing this. Actually, I had a check a few months ago that I deposited which I would have preferred to go directly to PayPal. Now, it seems like that option is actually possible. Interesting stuff….

  15. Why the heck does it take 6 business days?! I think I know why it’s free now. Paypal is making money from you in 3 out of 6 of those days. But at least they offer the service. Hopefully there will be more competition soon to drive the wait time down.

  16. This is a pretty neat feature. Too bad I don’t have a smartphone yet… :(

  17. I think I will download this app and try it.

    Thanks for the tip!

  18. What about PayPal commission of 2.5%? Won’t they cut it from your check? and banks don’t do that. We have online check deposit with chase bank as well.

  19. I sell custom made jewelry and many times need my payments instantly so I can purchase the material to make the jewelry, so I upgraded my account and got the paypal debit card. Because of this I don’t have to wait the additional 3 day for the money from the check to transfer to my bank account, I can use it after the 6 day processing period via my debit card.

  20. I downloaded the app to my Droid… however when i tried taking a picture i was unable to do so. Any advice

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