If you’re trying to deposit cash to an online bank account, the process may be harder—but it’s not impossible. Getting your cash into an online bank lets you take advantage of some of the best savings rates in the nation. There are a few methods that will work:
ACH transfer: The simplest way is to deposit cash into an account at a brick-and-mortar bank or credit union and then transfer the funds to your online bank account. This technique is one of several reasons why it’s worth keeping a brick-and-mortar account open. Wire transfers are even faster, but you may need to pay a fee (averaging $15.50 to $27.50 for domestic transfers depending on the bank) to send a wire.
ATM deposits: Some online banks accept deposits at ATMs. Check with your bank to see if you can use a particular ATM network, and look for network logos on ATMs near you. Your bank’s app likely has an ATM locator tool as well.
Prepaid cards: If your bank doesn’t accept cash at ATMs, a prepaid debit card may offer a workaround. Some prepaid debit cards provide options for cash deposits, and you may be able to link your prepaid account to your online bank account. This allows you to make electronic transfers, just like if you used a brick-and-mortar bank. Look for a prepaid card that allows you to “cash load,” or make deposits, at retail locations such as Walmart or national pharmacy chains. Another approach is to use a debit card that can be reloaded by buying reload cards. You’ll pay cash for the reload card, and then add those funds to your prepaid account. Before going that route, find out how much it costs to load cash onto your card; the fees to add money may discourage you from using this option.
Money orders: If your bank accepts deposits by mail, you can buy a money order with cash and send the money order to your bank. That’s a slow and cumbersome process, but it may be your only option. You’ll have to pay a fee for each money order (often around $1 at grocery and convenience stores; or $1.25 through USPS) plus postage, so small deposits might not be worth it.
Mobile deposit: Another approach is to deposit a money order with your bank’s mobile deposit app. This saves on mail time, but you’ll still need to physically get the money order, and some banks don’t allow money order deposits.
Ask your bank how they handle money orders (or read your deposit agreement) before you go out and buy one.