Many people have begun switching some or all of their accounts to online banks. This AskMetafilter user is looking for a great internet bank.

I have an account with ING, and they’re fine, but I’d like to find an online bank that has a decent interest rate but 1) doesn’t hold your deposits forever before they’re available and 2) can transfer money back to my checking account rather quickly. Does anyone have good experience with such a place?

A user who works in banking offers this excellent response:

There are several online banks (or banks with online presences) that might suit you, depending upon your habits and needs, as well as how fiscally responsible you personally happen to be. For what it’s worth, I would not go totally online unless you are very, very personally responsible with your accounts, and even then, I would maintain a checking account at a regular bank (like BoA or Wachovia) just in case of some sort of extenuating circumstance. (That’s what I do.) MoneyRates.com is a good resource, but please be sure to read the disclosures and find out how the bank actually works before you go whole hog. Based on your question, I think you might be able to use a little more information regarding how funds availability works.

The ACH system takes about three days. It’s how long it takes. If you don’t like how long it takes, talk to the Fed, because your bank isn’t running it. Some banks choose to give you credit based on an ACH request prior to receiving the credit (based on my experience with ING, I assume this is what they typically do, but I’ve not worked there, so I don’t know). Additionally, ACH credits typically come over with a notice that states when the credit should apply.

ACH deposits are typically not held, and this includes your direct deposit from paychecks. Wires, similarly, are immediately available but some banks won’t wire out on the same day as the wire is received; check your terms and conditions. For checks, you will have to look at the Funds Availability policy for your bank, but generally speaking, you should be getting the funds available on an established account on the next business day up to whatever tolerance the bank establishes — typically this is about $5,000.00 and the rest will be on hold. The regs allow a hold of up to 11 business days but you are much more likely to see five or seven based on your bank.

Many banks have “Special Rules for New Accounts,” and this is a provision that is provided for in the regs (Reg CC if you want to be precise). During the first 30 days from opening (and this is either when you apply for/open the account or when it’s funded, based on the bank’s policy) longer holds will apply to check items. If you want to have immediate availability, check with your bank to see what kind of items will be immediately available. USPS Money orders and cashier’s checks are good guesses.

Useful information whether you bank online or at a brick-and-mortar institution.

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