In an era before some readers’ time, cash was the only method of payment. But today, financial transactions are rapidly changing. Cash is increasingly obsolete in much of today’s society, to the point that some banks operate exclusively online, without in-person tellers, ATMs, or brick-and-mortar establishments. With lower overhead costs, online banks can offer lower banking fees and better savings rates.
Still, cash is not dead. And online banking works smoothly until you encounter cash. If there are no tellers to receive the deposit, where do you put it?
Just because you have an online-only bank account doesn’t exclude you from making cash deposits. Some online banks make it easier than others, but there are ways around even the most restrictive of platforms.
Depositing Your Cold, Hard Cash in Person
When it comes to depositing cash the old-fashioned way, some online banking platforms allow cash deposits at branded or associated ATMs. For example, any Capital One 360 account holder can deposit funds via a physical 360 Café or Capital One bank location. State Farm online accounts also allow cash deposits from a local bank or ATM.
Depositing cash funds into an ATM is as simple as counting your money, clicking deposit on the screen, and sealing the cash in the ATM-provided envelope before inserting it into the machine. Keep the receipt handy until you have a chance to confirm the deposit online.
Linked ATMs and associated tellers work well when they are available, but what happens if there isn’t one nearby? Are there other ways to make physical deposits of cash into your online accounts?
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Linking an External Account
Some online banks have worked around the issue of not having any physical ATMs by providing an external account service.
For example, you can link an alternate checking account to your Capital 360 account. This allows you the capacity to deposit cash into a local banking account – taking full advantage of their physical location – and then easily transfer it over into your online accounts.
There may be small fees associated with this transfer. But usually the lower rates of an online bank make up for these small one-time transaction fees.
There’s an App for That
Still, even with this option, there are many online banks without either of these options. No external account option, no physical presence – does this mean there is nothing to do with your hard-earned cash but stuff it into your mattress for a rainy day?
There are some ingenious ways to work around the restrictions of the online banking system, specifically the ability to remotely deposit checks. This feature, completed using a mobile banking app, allows clients to take a photo of the front and back of the checks, log some basic information, and make a remote deposit. Many banks offer this service for free, although you do need to hold on to the paper copy of the check for a few months after the initial deposit.
The easiest way to transform your cash into a check is by purchasing a cashier’s check or money order. Cashier’s checks and money orders are available at local banks and credit unions; alternatively, some post offices and corner stores provide this service as well.
There is a fee associated with cashier’s checks. But if you rarely make cash deposits, it shouldn’t be too cost-prohibitive.
What About Wire Transfers?
Wire transfers work well for depositing large sums of money securely into your bank account. They are also a good option if you are currently overseas and can’t access any local banks to make your cash deposit.
Wire transfers are much more expensive than a cashier’s check, starting at $15 for internal wires, more for international. Annoyingly they also have costs associated with the inbound and outbound ends of the transaction, which is why it’s usually only worthwhile for more substantial sums.
Using a Prepaid Debit Card
If you frequently have cash to deposit, consider the option of a getting a prepaid debit card linked to your online account. Although not all prepaid cards offer this service, some allow you to put cash onto your card at stores like Walmart. GoBank is one example of a prepaid card. They allow customers to add cash at any Walmart till with no additional fees.
Although this method doesn’t actually put funds into your account, it does transform your handful of cash into an electronic payment method. Shop around for prepaid cards before purchasing one, though. They might come with transaction fees and restrictions that can quickly eat up the balance without you realizing it.