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Depositing Checks With the PayPal iPhone App

Written by Nickel - 11 Comments

Earlier this week, PayPal updated their iPhone app. While there were a number of minor improvements, there was one major change that really stood out. They added the ability to capture and deposit checks into your account.

This sort of remote deposit has been around for awhile, though it’s been limited to a relatively small number of banks and credit unions. With this latest development, however, you have the ability to do remote deposit whether or not your bank supports it.

The key is that you have to have a PayPal account to do this, but… With over 87 million people using PayPal, chances are good that you already do. Once you’ve linked your PayPal account to a bank account, then it’s a simple (albeit somewhat slow) two-step to deposit your check and then transfer it to your bank.

Here’s how it works:

Step 1: Launch the app, login, and tap “Add Money From Checks.”

Step 2: Tap the “Continue” button to dismiss the welcome screen.

Step 3: Take a picture of the front of your check*.

Step 4: Take a picture of the back of your check*.

Step 5: Enter the amount of the check.

Step 6: Patiently wait… Up to six business days.

That’s it. It’s a very simple process, though it’s a bit disappointing that the check approval process takes so long. I’m not sure why it’s so slow, but I suspect it has to do with PayPal just being the middle man. In other words, they presumably need to work through their own bank to get the check cleared.

When you add the time required to transfer the money from PayPal to your bank, you may be looking at close to two weeks to get the money from your phone to your bank. Not great, but there are still times that I can envision using it – e.g., to deposit a check when I’m on the road and don’t have access to the bank.

Of course, once our bank adds remote deposit functionality to their iPhone app, I’ll probably never deposit another check into my PayPal account. But until then, it’s a potentially handy alternative to have.

*Note: The actual pictures are much clearer than this. These are just screenshots from my phone, and are thus a bit blurry.

Published on October 8th, 2010 - 11 Comments
Filed under: Banking, Online

About the author: is the founder and editor-in-chief of this site. He's a thirty-something family man who has been writing about personal finance since 2005, and guess what? He's on Twitter!

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11 Responses to “Depositing Checks With the PayPal iPhone App”

  1. 1
    Jeremy Says:

    Chase and USAA have this too. USAA also has an Android app that my wife has used a couple of times.

  2. 2
    Nickel Says:

    Yep, I compiled a list of banks and credit unions that offer this (linked above) but I don’t have an account with any of them. I would imagine it’s only a matter of time before BofA adds this to their iPhone app, which would be great for me.

  3. 3
    Floridian Says:

    nope can’t do it. The kids enjoy the monthly trips to the credit union (and the suckers they get there). They also have their own bank accounts. When we make our monthly trip to the credit union to deposit the hubby’s checks (own business – no direct deposit :( …), the kids get their allowances and decide how much to deposit to their own accounts. They are still so little (10 & 8) that I think they still need to see the actual cash exchange. Looking forward to the day I will no longer have to visit the credit union…but 6 days to wait for the deposit to post?!?!? sheesh, that’s crazy!

  4. 4
    Andrea Says:

    That is really cool!! They should bring that in for banks too!

    We don’t have it in the UK, that feature. Then again we can’t get paypal debit cards either (there has been a slight work around with the pay as you go type paypal credit card).

    Urgh… I live in the wrong country lol!

  5. 5
    Dan Says:

    I have been using the USAA iphone deposit for about a year now. USAA is the best bank around IMHO – their service is incredible, checks are free, checking is free, ATMs are refunded, etc. Of course I still link to my high yield savings account :)

  6. 6
    Dan B Says:

    Anyone considering linking their paypal account to their bank account should know & understand the risks involved in doing so. Do even a minimal amount of research & you may think twice about exposing yourself in that manner. Paypal is extremely convenient for buyers. Paypal is often the only credit card accepting option for sellers & is therefore again extremely convenient. BUT…..don’t confuse them for a bank & therefore they do not have to comport themselves in that manner. Do not keep any money in your paypal account unless you understand the risks involved. In the interests of full disclosure…..I am a paypal member. In fact I’m a founding member from when paypal had fewer than 1500 members. Do your homework.

  7. 7
    leslie Says:

    How did I not see this?!! I practically considered switching to Chase for this feature! Unfortunately, when I tap “Add Money From Checks” I get a “System error.” window. I’ll try again tomorrow and hopefully it won’t be there. I am still really excited to use this! It takes me at least two weeks to get to the bank anyway, so I don’t mind the wait time.

  8. 8
    leslie Says:

    Update: holycrap it worked!

  9. 9
    Money for Regular People Says:

    Excellent post. I have heard of this functionality, but until this article I had not seen anything on the specific mechanics (my bank does not yet have it). I plan on experimenting with this soon. If successful then I plan on backlinking to this article!

  10. 10
    Philip Brewer Says:

    I suppose I’m in an unusual situation, living just a ten minutes from my bank, but actually walking over to deposit the checks I get doesn’t seem like a big deal.

    Still, it is very clever. What’ll they think of next? Some sort of adjusting device for changing the channel on your TV from across the room, perhaps.

  11. 11
    Ben Says:

    My PNC mobile check deposit takes at most 2 business days to process a check. So far, I have been waiting for 4 days for the PayPal desposit to clear. Needless to say, I’m very disspointed and will only be using my PNC app to deposit checks from now on.

    PayPal pisses me off for 2 reasons now instead of 1. The first was that they are grinding away the their liberal ax by suspending or terminating peoples’ accounts who use PayPal to make a firearm-related purchase.

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