When you end up with more cash than you can spend, it’s best to deposit that money into a bank account. The bank is safe, so the cash won’t get stolen or burn in a fire. But what’s the best way to deposit cash?
Take it to the Bank
The best place to deposit cash is your bank or credit union. You’ll have instant access to the money if you need it, you can start earning interest on your deposit quickly, and you should not pay any fees for making the deposit. You can then use the funds to pay your bills (by writing a check), or you can send the funds to somebody else electronically.
Depositing cash with a teller is safest and easiest. It may seem inconvenient, but you can be fairly certain that the funds will show up in your account instantly. You can even verify this by reviewing your receipt or checking your account balance online. If you don’t know exactly how to deposit cash to your account, just ask the teller -- they’ll show you how it’s done.
Remember that there are a few ways to make the process more convenient. Use a drive through teller if that suits your needs. If you bank at a credit union that’s part of the CU Service Center network, you can deposit cash at any member branch (not just at your home credit union).
The Deposit Slip
When you deposit cash at a bank or credit union, you’ll need to use a deposit slip. This is simply a slip of paper that tells the teller where to put the money. Write your name and account number on the deposit slip (these are usually available at the lobby or drive through). The first line on the right side of the deposit slip is generally labeled “CASH,” and this is where you should write the amount of your deposit. Hand the deposit slip to the teller along with your cash, and wait for a receipt.
Deposit Cash at an ATM
Nowadays, you can deposit cash at ATMs with a reasonable degree of confidence. ATM deposits usually work just fine, but there is more risk at the ATM than there is with a teller. Any mechanical failure or network glitch can cause problems -- and it may be several days (at least) before you have access to your money.
The process for depositing cash at an ATM varies from bank to bank. You may need to use your ATM card and PIN to access your account before making a deposit. Some ATMs read and count the bills as you insert them, while others require you to stuff the cash into an envelope (so it will be counted later by a bank employee). If you're not sure what to do, you'll most likely be able to follow the ATM's on-screen instructions.
Don’t Mail Cash
Whatever you do, do not ever mail cash. The mail system is quite safe, but it’s not worth the risk. If your letter is lost or stolen, you’re out of luck; the nature of cash is such that there’s simply no way to track the money or get it back.
If you are unable to deposit cash into a bank account and you’re tempted to use the mail, try using a money order instead. Unlike cash, a money order can be used only by a specific person or company. Take your cash to any money order issuer and then mail the money order to your bank (along with a deposit slip, or whatever your bank requires for mail deposits). You’ll be able to track the money order and cancel it if the document is lost or stolen. Money orders usually cost a few bucks, but that’s better than losing 100% of your cash.
Get Less Cash
If it’s a nuisance to deposit cash, try to get less of it. Ask people to pay you another way: online payments, checks, or money orders are all common ways of getting paid. PayPal and Popmoney are easy ways to send money online. If people pay you with a check, you can mail in deposits or even deposit checks remotely from your home or office.