by Chelsea Hoffer

Cash and the Online Bank

Online banking services are gaining popularity due to increased convenience and low—or no—fees, but getting cash in and out of online bank accounts requires a bit of creativity. Here are a few tips on how best to get cash into and out of your online bank account.
Cash and the Online Bank

Online banking services have become increasingly popular over the past few years, and it’s easy to see why. The best ones offer advantages like lower—or no fees, convenience, and the ability to access almost any service without having to “go to the bank.”

There are times, however, when you need to get your hands on some cold, hard cash. What happens if you use a online bank, and you find yourself with a pile of cash you need to deposit? Or you happen to need a pile of cash so you can give to someone else?

It can be done. Here are some inside tips on the options.

Getting cash out

Use the basics: ATMs or cash back

These methods are easy and ubiquitous. Most online banks offer thousands of fee-free ATMs. (Check out ours over here!) For security reasons, there’s usually a limit on ATM withdrawals; Simple’s limit is $500 per day.

You can also get cash back at any merchant that offers this service including most grocery, convenience, and drug stores. This is a fee-free way to get cash for day-to-day expenses, and it’s super quick—grab some cash while you’re running errands or getting groceries.

Get a cash advance

If you need to get a large amount of cash, consider a cash advance (also called an “over the counter cash withdrawal.”) For most banks, this limit is higher than the ATM limit; Simple’s is up to $5,000 per day.

If you’d like to go this route, start by finding a local bank that offers this service. Most major banks do (and you don’t have to be a customer of theirs). Service can vary from branch to branch, so it’s wise to call ahead and check. This is also a good time to ask about any limits on their end.

Once you’ve found a branch, just walk in, give a teller your card and a piece of photo ID, and ask them to withdraw money from your card. We don’t charge any fees for this service, and the local bank shouldn’t either.

Consider money orders or a cashier’s check

Of course, they aren’t exactly cash, but USPS money orders and cashier’s checks (also called treasurer’s checks or certified checks) are very widely accepted—even when personal checks aren’t. It’s always worth asking if you can use them instead of cash.

You can get USPS money orders with a debit card at any U.S. Post Office. Each money order is limited to $1,000, and your bank’s daily limits will still apply. (Ours is $5,000 per day).

Most online banking services (including Simple!) can also send you a cashier’s check upon request. Some online banks have a limit on these; we don’t. And, of course, we don’t charge any fees. Since cashier’s checks need to be printed and mailed, they take a little while to arrive. If you want one, just get in touch with our support team—we’ll hook you up.

Getting cash in

Convert it into a money order

Cash can be converted into something that can be easily deposited electronically: a money order. Pick one up for a small fee at most grocery or convenience stores, or at any U.S. Post Office. Once you have the money order, deposit it by snapping a photo with your phone.

This option is a little roundabout, but it’s accessible to folks living across the country. Keep in mind: not every bank will accept money orders via mobile deposit; we do.

Keep a local account

You don’t have to choose between online banking and a local branch—why not have both?

Many folks opt for online banks because of lower fees and convenience. If you use your online checking account for most services, you can get by with a basic, low-to-no fee local account. Deposit the cash there, and either save it or electronically transfer it to your day-to-day spending account. (Of course, we offer fee-free bank-to-bank transfers).

ATMs might be a possibility

First off, a disclaimer: most online banking services (including Simple) don’t currently offer ATM deposits. For the few banks that do, the network of ATMs that can accept deposits is fairly small and there may not be any near you. If the right circumstances coincide, though, this is a great option.

Consider a prepaid card

We’d be remiss if we didn’t mention that some prepaid cards allow you to load cash at certain chains (usually big-box or convenience stores). Many prepaid cards offer fewer services and higher fees than online banking services, but there are some great, versatile, low-cost options out there. It pays to do your research. There are some great, low-fee options to be found with a little searching.

Cash and online banks aren’t mutually exclusive

Online banks aren’t exactly optimized for cash, but they’re not entirely incompatible. The right solution depends a lot on your needs. Do you earn a lot of your income in cash? Then, going entirely online might not be the best fit, but you can take advantage of the benefits online banks offer. Do you use cash for small, day-to-day purchases? Then you’re golden—you’ll be able to get enough cash without any hassle. Do you occasionally need large sums of cash (like, swim in it levels)? That’s a little trickier, but with some advance planning, it’s possible too. And no matter what, we’re here to help you find the best solution.

Learn more about what sets Simple apart from other online banking services.

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Disclaimer: Hey! Welcome to our disclaimer. Here’s what you need to know to safely consume this blog post: Any outbound links in this post will take you away from, to external sites in the wilds of the internet; neither Simple nor our partner bank, BBVA Compass, endorse any linked-to websites; and we didn’t pay/barter with/bribe anyone to appear in this post. And as much as we wish we could control the cost of things, any prices in this article are just estimates. Actual prices are up to retailers, manufacturers, and other people who’ve been granted magical powers over digits and dollar signs.