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The bank's automated teller machine (ATM) indicated that I had a positive balance. But when I wrote a check, the bank charged an overdraft fee. How is this possible?

Many transactions are processed overnight. These transactions may not be reflected in an available balance—such as an ATM balance—that you see during the day.

It's important to keep a current and accurate check/transaction register and balance it to your monthly statement. The balances a bank provides online, by telephone or ATM are for information purposes only—they do not replace your check/transaction register. You should also keep in mind that banks do not have to make funds available for withdrawal as soon as they are deposited.

On checking accounts, banks generally post deposits before withdrawals. However, banks aren't required by law to do this.

In addition, banks may establish a cut-off time for deposits made at a branch or through an ATM. Deposits made after the cut-off time may be treated as having been made on the following business day.

Last Reviewed: April 2021

Please note: The terms "bank" and "banks" used in these answers generally refer to national banks, federal savings associations, and federal branches or agencies of foreign banking organizations that are regulated by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC). Find out if the OCC regulates your bank. Information provided on should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion of the OCC.

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