Do you use an online checking account such as Ally, Capital One 360, USAA, Fidelity, or Schwab? If you do, here’s a challenge:
How do you deposit cash to it?
It would be cheating if you first deposit the cash to a local, brick-and-mortar bank and then transfer it to your online bank. In that case you are not really depositing to your online bank. It also means you have to maintain a local, brick-and-mortar bank account.
It’s very easy to deposit a check to an online bank account. If you are not in a hurry and if you trust the Postal Service, you can just mail it. Many online banks also offer remote deposit by smartphone or computer scanner. USAA accepts check deposits at UPS Stores. Fidelity takes checks at their local offices.
Depositing CASH? Not so easy. You know you are not supposed to send cash by mail. UPS Stores don’t accept cash deposit for USAA. Fidelity’s local offices don’t take cash either. Take a picture of the cash with your smartphone? Good try.
Buy a money order and then do the deposit by mobile phone? First, a money order costs money. Second, you want to check to see if the mobile deposit app accepts money orders. Mobile apps from Ally, Capital One 360, and Fidelity all don’t accept money orders.
I recently had to deposit some cash. I used this state-of-the-art device that sits outside our cafeteria at work. It took my cash, counted the bills, deposited it, and then gave me a receipt. All done in less than 1 minute.
Wait, did I say online account? Yes, I use Alliant Credit Union*. There is no branch near me. Alliant Credit Union contracts with several ATM networks. Many contracted ATMs take deposits.
I use the same machine for depositing checks. It beats any mobile app by a long mile. When I tried a few mobile deposit apps, they would reject the pictures half of the time. I had to retake the pictures and resubmit, sometimes several times. Very frustrating. With the industrial-grade machine, I can feed multiple checks in one shot. It doesn’t matter whether I feed them face-up or face-down. The machine reads the front and the back and the amount on the checks in one pass. It prints a summary or thumbnail images on the back of the receipt. Beat that, iPhone app!
Among all the major online banks — Ally, Capital One 360, USAA, Fidelity, Schwab — Alliant Credit Union solves this depositing problem most elegantly.
If you’d rather not switch banks, you can get a Bluebird account by American Express and deposit cash at any Walmart store. Bluebird account is an online account with no minimum balance and no monthly fee. Once you deposit the cash, you can use the money to make purchases at stores, pay any bills with its online billpay, or transfer the money to a linked bank account.