Regardless of whether you have deposited a check or written one, waiting for the funds to clear can lead to frustration, mistakes and ultimately fees that everyone but the bank hates. There are several ways to think about the time frame it takes a bank to clear a check. With Check 21, the Check Clearing for the 21st Century Act, check truncation has become the norm, but releasing funds timely has not.
This legislation became effective on Oct. 28, 2004, to allow banks to do a check transaction that doesn't require the original check to be sent for processing by the bank it was written on. This is referred to as check truncation and is almost an electronic transaction in which the bank receives the money immediately.
Non-Check 21 Systems
Institutions not utilising the Check 21 system must send the check to the institution the draft is being written on and wait for the funds to be sent, thus clearing the check. The time it takes to clear is most often contingent on the distance between the institutions.
Checks deposited from institutions located in the same state will generally take up to two business days to clear. Note that calling a bank can release a hold if it can confirm the money has been cleared by the check writer's institution.
Deposits made into an account located in a different state will be held longer. For nearby states, this is three to six business days.
Don't Expect a Hold
If you are writing a check, it is important to make sure the money is already in the account at the time the check is written. The reason is a depository bank may place a hold on the check to the account holder, but get it cleared well before any hold period is done.