Check Holds – Getting the Bank to Release Your Funds

With the recent shake up in the economy and the banking industry, banks and credit unions are looking for more and more ways to increase their revenue. The new methods include hanging on to your money for longer periods (the float), increased fees for overdrafts, and automatic increases to your interest rates whenever they can.

My own credit union is no exception. I noticed that they are waiting until the end of the day to credit deposits to my account, but are much quicker to take money out of the account.

Another way my credit union works to increase their float is in the matter of how long it will take to credit a check. I recently initiated a transfer from my secondary bank to my credit union to cover some bills. This is accomplished through a web check, which I am sure you all have used before.

The surprise this time is that my credit union has a policy, unknown to me, of putting a five day hold on deposits over $2500.00. This greatly increases the float time and might seriously inconvenience you. Note that we are not talking about a personal check that might or might not have funds; this was a check from another bank.

However, the credit union or bank also has the discretion to release the funds, if asked in the right manner. Here are the steps I used to resolve the issue and get my deposit credited without waiting.

1. I prepared for the call by having my account information in front of me. This included being logged in to my credit union’s online site. I also had my Quicken software open so that I could search previous transactions. I knew I might be on hold for a while, so I blocked out the time to work on this and set up to use my wireless headset so I could use the computer and write as we talked.

2. I called the credit union’s toll free number and verified my account by providing personal information.

3. I asked why even though I could see a deposit from my secondary bank to my credit union account, the money was NOT shown in the “Amount Available” column. Note that getting angry at this point will not help your case; you should have the mindset of trying to resolve a problem together. The agent put me on hold while he did some research and finally came back and said, “Our policy is to put a five day hold on all checks over $2500.00. Your check should clear in four more days.”

4. This is the point where you should ask for their assistance in getting the funds. I said, “I understand that policy, but this is a check from another bank, not a personal check. Please check and see if you can get the funds released. If not, please release the funds below the $2500.00 limit.” This would have given me at least $2499.99 of my money. I believe giving the representative options at this point greatly increased the chances for success.

5. The agent said he would have to pass the request on to a supervisor for approval. He warned me that he would have to put me on hold and the hold might be for as long as ten minutes. This is where being prepared to wait helped. I replied, “No problem, I appreciate any assistance you can give me.”

6. After about five minutes, the supervisor came on line. Once again, I had to verify some personal information. She then asked me the account number and contact details of the bank that had issued my check. This is where having all my records in front of me helped. I gave her the other bank’s phone number, my account number, and the issued check number. Once again, I was put on hold.

7. The supervisor came back after several minutes and said she had verified my info with the other bank and was assured that my account had sufficient funds to cover the check. She stated that she was approving the deposit and the money should be available immediately.

8. At this point, everything appeared to be complete. However, I was monitoring my account online and the funds were not yet available. I explained this to the supervisor. She asked me to refresh my screen several times, but there was no change to the “Amount Available” column.

9. I requested that she check on this for me. She had to put me on hold again and asked another supervisor to perform some magic in the background to clear the funds. This time, after several refreshes, the “Available Amount” finally showed my money.

10. I made it a point to thank everyone involved for assisting me. It might not help (but it certainly can’t hurt) to be pleasant when dealing with your bank.

11. Last, but not least, I made a note to never send a check for more than $2500.00 to my credit union. Since my secondary bank’s online checks are free, it would have cost me nothing to split the deposit into two checks, each below the mandatory five day hold limit.

The credit union is perfectly within their rights to place holds on checks. The governing regulations regarding check holds are covered in:


The full text of these regulations is available at:


So, how long did it take me to get this accomplished? Time to prepare was 20 minutes; time on the phone was 30 minutes; total time was less than an hour. It was well worth the effort as it enabled me to make on time payments to other accounts.

Try this method the next time you negotiate with your bank or credit union.

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