A while ago, shortly after we moved from New Jersey to Virginia, I wrote a post on why we still bank with Bank of America. In that article, I listed a few reasons for staying with the bank when there were a lot of talks about moving away from big banks such as BofA to smaller community banks and credit unions. One of the reasons I gave was that, even after moving to a different state, we still have a BofA branch office that’s not too far away from where we live, making a quick run to the bank to, for example, deposit a check, very convenient. Since we are using direct deposit for our incomes, trips to the bank have been reduced to the minimum. But still once in a while, there’s a physical check that we receive and need to be put in the bank account. The problem is, since we have so few checks, and the amounts are usually quite small, to deposit these days, quite often I simply forgot about it.
Now, depositing a check won’t be something I have to remember to do any more. In fact, it can all be done very fast, thanks to smartphone apps that also cut down the number of trips to the bank even further. With mobile apps that allow us to make remote deposit by simply taking pictures of the check, the only times that we do need to go to the bank, or the bank’s ATM, now is withdrawing cash.
When I first heard about banks allowing their customers to make remote deposit last year (I forgot which bank did this first), I was quite jealous and upset since none of my banks, neither BofA nor any of those online banks which I have accounts with, offered such service. So the trips continued, until late last year, when one of my online banks, Sallie Mae, launched its mobile app for Andriod that supports remote deposit. Then last week, ING Direct, another bank that I use, also caught up with the trend by adding deposit-over-the-phone function to its mobile app, just in time when I started to move my money from Sallie Mae to ING because the latter now has a better rate.
Yesterday, I used to ING’s new remote deposit function, called ING checkmate, to make my first deposit with my phone and it worked very well. If you are not familiar with remote deposit, how it works is that you basically run the app from your phone and take pictures of both the front and back of the check using the camera of the phone, enter the amount of the check, submit your deposit, and that’s it. Very convenient and straightforward.
Of course, since with the mobile app, you won’t send the physical check to the bank, but rather the pictures of the check, so the quality of the picture matters greatly and that will determine how many times you will have to retake the pictures before the deposit is successful. Since I have been using the Sallie Mae app for a while, I got frustrated some times when it simply asked me to take pictures repeatedly without giving reason why the pictures taken were not good. But, when I used ING app yesterday and the deposit didn’t go through the first time, it actually told me why it failed: The four corners of the check must be in the picture.
Now I don’t really care whether Bank of America, which also has an app for mobile banking, offers the remote deposit function or not because depositing the checks into a savings account is even a better choice.
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