Both Chase and CitiBank offer their customers remote check deposit, and now, two more banks have joined the new technological whir. Both Vanguard and Bank of America are offering their own versions. The question is, do they work? We set out to see just how easy and accurate these apps truly are and we chose Bank of America as our test pilot.
A lot of folks are testing these new apps – which are now available on both Androids and iPhone and some are reporting fantastic experiences while others are noting hiccups, albeit small ones, but hiccups nonetheless. This week, we try out Bank of America’s version of the remote check deposit.
Downloading the App
First up, the download is required. It’s free and installs literally within seconds. I have an Android, so iPhone users may have slightly different experiences, though it’s being touted as universally easy. You’ll want to log in using the same user name and password as your online banking profile – which is good considering some apps require completely different sign in procedures and credentials. Remember though, you have to already be an online customer. If you’re not, head over to bankofamerica.com and get that set up first.
While I appreciated the same login credentials, it should be noted I was also asked my security questions. Here’s a tip, too – instead of choosing the same tired questions, go for something different. Make your question something like, “My favorite Cary Grant film”. The reason being so many identify thefts are actually committed by someone we know. It’s still a low number in the ID theft statistics, but you should know it’s growing. So choosing your youngest sister’s name or your first dog’s name might not be a challenge for a friend or acquaintance.
You’ll notice, once you’re logged in, the tabs. Via my Android, I clicked on the tab “Deposits”. Immediately I was prompted to take a picture of the check. I canceled out of that while I plundered through last week’s mail for a rebate check I’d received. We all have those small checks for $10 or $20 from those forms we actually remembered to mail in. I clicked on the Deposits tab again and took the first picture of the check. While it’s not brutally specific, it is important that your image encompasses the entire check and that there’s enough light to accurately illuminate the information on the check. I was then prompted to flip the check and ensure I’d endorsed it and added the words “For Deposit” and then snap another picture.
Once that’s done, I was prompted to select which account I wanted to deposit this check to. Also, too, you can break it up between a few accounts if you wish. You’ll be prompted through a couple of screens and then the transaction processes – which in my case took about three seconds. Remember, if the picture isn’t “accepted”, you’ll be prompted to take another one, which is why it’s important to be sure it’s a clean shot with good lighting.
Even after the transaction’s been completed, you’ll want to hold on to the actual check until your next statement. It’s just good housekeeping.
Also, you’ll want to check out the specific limitations of your account. It’s usually a max of $5,000 a day that you can deposit via the remote deposit, but some bigger accounts may not have those same limitations.
One thing I’ve discovered – and this is strictly my own personal experience – is there seems to be a glitch or two when it comes to handwritten checks. One writer with the New York Times conducted his own test and wrote, “The second check, however, a hand-written personal check sent by a relative as a gift for my daughter’s birthday, was a different story. Despite taking and retaking the image numerous times, in different lighting and from varying heights, I got the same error message: ‘The image is blurry. Please retake a clear photo.”
He says he called customer service, but didn’t exactly find a solution. He then contacted his mobile service carrier and wasn’t able to get much further. After successfully depositing two typed checks, he concluded it was just the handwritten check that was “confusing” the app. Eh… like all technology, it’s a work in progress.
The only potential problem this writer can see is the potential for depositing a check via the app, forgetting about it and then depositing it again either by app or traditional ways. The massive servers will happily alert you or the bank if that happens, but just be careful – the last thing you want to do is think you have more in the bank than you actually do. One solution is to notate on the actual check that it’s been electronically deposited. Again, it’s my opinion you should hold on to those checks until your next statement arrives and then destroy them. Even a line drawn through the check as a reminder that it’s already been deposited is acceptable – but needless to say, the more organized you are, the lower your odds of making that mistake.
For those who don’t have a Bank of America account, there’s currently a promotion that’s being offered. Bank of America is offering a $75 rebate for those opening a new checking account. With assurances that its checking solutions offer control, flexibility and convenience, Bank of America is really working to set itself apart from the other big banks. It offers online banking, text banking and its Mobile banking. Of course, your account comes with a Bank of America debit card and the online account access adds a lot of versatility to your financial efforts.
Set up alerts, pay bills online, enroll in direct deposit and don’t forget the new mobile banking app we just reviewed. Remember, though, the terms and conditions are crucial – and it matters little if you’re opening a credit card account or a checking account – without understanding your responsibilities – especially in a new financial environment, you’re only making things difficult in the long run. Be sure to explore the fee structures, overdraft fees, annual fees for credit cards and take it all into consideration before you open an account.