What Counts as a Direct Deposit?

If you’ve been looking for new bank accounts with sign-up bonuses, you undoubtedly have come across the direct deposit requirement accompanying most of those bonuses. So what counts as a direct deposit?

This requirement is almost always there whether you’re looking to open a personal checking account, a business checking account, a savings account, a new debit card, or anything in between.

In This Article

What Is a Direct Deposit?

Direct deposits are a form of electronic funds transfer (EFT) payment that goes directly into your bank account.

Physical cash deposits and check deposits are generally not considered direct deposits since they are not electronic.

To receive a direct deposit, you have to supply your account number and routing number.

This rule applies whether your account is with a bank or a credit union, including a federal credit union.

Usually, direct deposits go to a checking account from which you can pay bills, make transfers, and take care of your personal finance matters.

While the term direct deposit is very generic, it usually refers to payments that pass through the ACH (Automated Clearing House) network. Such deposits include what are known as ACH transfers – transfers that pass through the ACH network.

What are Direct Deposits Used For?

Direct deposits are used for various reasons; however, the most common usage is to deposit paychecks, government benefits, tax refunds, and others.

When receiving money this way, you do not have to queue at the bank, wait for a check in the mail, or collect anything.

Everything is done electronically and faster than ever before – most direct deposits take between one and two business days to make their way to your account.

Direct Deposits as a Bonus Requirement

Direct deposits also tend to be a requirement for many banks and credit union sign-up bonuses. While the exact rules may vary from one financial institution to another, the banks are generally looking for you to deposit your pay or benefits there.

Since these payments are regular, the bank can ensure they’ll have a steady stream of money coming in and going out.

It’s important to note, however, that not all bonus terms and conditions are the same.

Before taking a bonus, always make sure that you read the fine print. Doing so can direct you in the way that you need to go.

If you’re still in doubt (terms and conditions don’t always make an easy read), get in touch with the bank and ask them. That way, you’ll have confirmation in writing.

How To Find Out What Counts as a Direct Deposit

To help you narrow things down, we’ve scoured the internet looking at the terms and conditions of different banks. We’ve identified what each one counts as a direct deposit based on past and current promotions.

We also looked at customer complaints about specific types of direct deposits, which the customer claims did not qualify.

Word of caution here – just because a customer complained, it does not necessarily mean a problem with that bank. Bonuses tend to come with several terms and conditions – which may be easy to miss.

As mentioned earlier, when in doubt, get in touch with the bank and get a confirmation in writing.

Ally

Ally is an online bank and a cash management app that can help you manage your money.

Its accounts (including money market) and bonuses consistently make it to top lists, so it is always worth checking out if you’re in the market for a new bank account with a bonus. On top of that, because it is an online-only bank, it’s also free of monthly fees.

Current and recent Ally bonuses do not require a direct deposit. Instead, you need to make one deposit from another financial institution. Ally considers another financial institution to be an institution not part of the Ally Financial group of companies.

Ally customers have reported no issues with any particular banks. Even so, it is always worth checking out the terms and conditions of any offer you’re thinking of taking since these are subject to change without notice.

BankBonusExpiresRequirements 
Ally Bank LogoAlly Ally Invest $3000 June 30, 2022
  • Minimum Balance
see all bonuses

Ameritrade

Ameritrade is not a bank but rather a brokerage firm that offers trading and investing services.

As many Americans are starting to take control of their own investments, brokerage firms such as Ameritrade have also started offering sign-up bonuses to sweeten the deal.

Current Ameritrade offers do not require a direct deposit. You need to transfer a sum of money that does not originate from an internal account or affiliates to get the bonus money. Furthermore, Ameritrade customers have reported no issues with transfers from particular financial institutions.

Bank of America

Bank of America is a full-service bank with some 4,600 locations. As one of the Big Four banks in the US, Bank of America still attracts many customers with advantageous sign-up bonuses offered from time to time.

Bank of America considers regular monthly income as a qualifying direct deposit. More specifically, it needs to be one of the following:

  • Salary
  • Pension
  • Social Security benefits

The bank excludes everything else, including teller deposits, wire transfers, debit card transfers, and ATM transfers and deposits.

Customers have complained that deposits originating from Ally, American Express Bluebird, Capital One, Chase, and HSBC didn’t qualify as direct deposits.

Suppose you receive your paycheck or benefits from any of these banks. In that case, you might want to check with Bank of America before committing to any sign-up bonus from this bank.

BankBonusExpiresRequirements 
Bank of America LogoBank of America Advantage Banking Account $100 June 30, 2022
  • Direct Deposit
Bank of America LogoBank of America Merrill Edge Self-Directed $1000 Limited Time
  • Minimum Balance
Bank of America LogoBank of America Merrill Edge Self-Directed $600 Limited Time
  • Minimum Balance
see all bonuses

BBVA USA

BBVA is a Spanish multinational bank with a presence in the US through BBVA USA. On October 8, 2021, PNC acquired BBVA USA. A transition is currently taking place, so check the latest news since all BBVA USA accounts will be transitioned to PNC accounts.

BBVA’s latest bonuses listed the following as qualifying direct deposits:

  • Recurring paychecks
  • Pension
  • Benefit

It is important to note that pension and benefits must come from either an employer or the government, such as Social Security payments.

Furthermore, it is essential to note that BBVA excludes the following:

  • Interest payments
  • Transfers from investment accounts
  • Payments from payment apps such as PayPal
  • Tax refunds
  • Economic stimulus payments paid as a one-off

Customers have also reported issues with payments coming from Chase, Ally, and Robinhood, so it’s worth checking with the bank if your qualifying direct deposits originate from any of these banks.

Capital One

Capital One is a bank built on the premises of inclusion and diversity.

Although it’s a reasonably young bank, having opened its doors in 1994, it is today the fifth-largest consumer bank in the US. It is also one of the top credit card providers in the US.

Capital One considers regular periodic ACH and Real-Time Payment network direct deposits from an employer or outside institution as qualifying direct deposits. These can include payments like:

  • Salary
  • Pension
  • Government payments
  • Monthly income

Customers who opted for a bonus with Capital One have reported issues with several banks when opting for a Capital One 360 account. Banks reported as being problematic include Ally, Chase, Santander, Wells Fargo, and USAA.

It is essential to verify with Capital One directly if your direct deposits originate from these banks.

BankBonusExpiresRequirements 
Capital One LogoCapital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards $200 Limited Time
  • Card Spend
see all bonuses

Chase

Chase Bank, a subsidiary of JP Morgan Chase, is one of the largest banks in the world and the largest bank in America. It often makes the news thanks to their CEO Jamie Dimon. Their consumer banking department has over 5,000 branches peppered across the US and often appears in lists of top banks.

Chase bank considers the following as direct deposits:

  • Paychecks
  • Pensions
  • Government benefits

While Chase does not exclude any particular banks in their terms and conditions, customers have reported issues with many big banks.

While this is unlikely, it’s best to confirm with Chase directly if you receive direct deposits from any of the following: Alliant, Ally, Barclays, Bank of America, Capital One, Charles Schwab, Citi, US Bank, or Wells Fargo.

BankBonusExpiresRequirements 
Chase Bank LogoChase Chase Total Checking® $225 April 20, 2022
  • Direct Deposit
Chase Bank LogoChase Chase Business Complete Banking℠ $300 April 21, 2022
  • Minimum Balance
  • Card Spend (Optional)
Chase Bank LogoChase J.P. Morgan Self-Directed Investing $625 April 7, 2022
  • Minimum Balance
see all bonuses

Chime

Chime is a financial technology company with banking services provided through either The Bancorp Bank or Stride Bank.

This partnership can offer perks and features that are usually associated with banks, such as FDIC insurance. Chime offers several different accounts, including a Credit Builder account, to help those with bad credit scores get back on their feet.

Chime considers direct deposits from the following as a qualifying direct deposit:

  • Employer
  • Payroll provider
  • Benefits payer

Chime customers have not reported any issues with qualifying direct deposits originating from any particular bank.

Citi

Citi is a full-service bank with a worldwide presence. The consumer banking arm of Citi serves some 110 million customers around the world. It has over 720 branches; however, the bank is driving a digital-first strategy to offer its entire lineup of products and services online.

Citi’s available promotions require customers to deposit a lump sum rather than have their paycheck or otherwise sent to the new account every month. Even so, they count the following as a valid form of deposit:

  • Domestic ACH transfer
  • Direct deposit
  • Non-Citibank checks
  • Wire transfers

Customers complained that payments through Barclays, Schwab, and TD Ameritrade were not considered qualifying direct deposits by Citi. If you’re receiving money from any of these banks, confirm if any restrictions are in place with Citi directly.

Citizens Bank

Citizens Bank is a regional bank with a presence in 11 states within the USA. The bank operates over 1,000 branches and more than 3,100 ATMs and offers a wide range of products and services.

Citizens Bank lists regular income as a qualifying direct deposit, including income derived from the following sources:

  • Salary
  • Pension

Citizens Bank expressly excludes online bill payments, Zelle transactions, and ATM transactions from their list of qualifying direct deposits. This rule does not mean that any other form of payment is accepted. You will still need to make sure that the payment is either a salary, pension, or some form of regular income.

Regarding customer complaints, direct deposits originating from Capital One 360 have been singled out as problematic. Even so, you should get in touch with the bank if your direct deposit income originates from this account.

BankBonusExpiresRequirements 
Citizens Bank LogoCitizens Personal Checking Account $400 February 17, 2022
  • Direct Deposit
  • Card Spend (Optional)
see all bonuses

KeyBank

KeyBank, a subsidiary of KeyCorp, is a regional bank with a presence in several states. It offers many consumer products and services. As a regional bank, they are pretty invested in the community, having just announced an investment of $40 billion in environmental protection and equality.

Keybank is very direct when it comes to what makes a direct deposit qualify for its offers. The bank accepts only the following types of deposits as qualifying direct deposits:

  • Payroll
  • Social security
  • Pension
  • Government benefits

Their terms and conditions do not mention any particular bank. However, customers have reported issues with Ally and Charles Schwab. As in all other cases, you might want to verify with KeyBank directly whether they accept direct deposits from these banks for their promotions.

BankBonusExpiresRequirements 
KeyBank LogoKeyBank Personal Checking Account $200 January 28, 2022
  • Direct Deposit
see all bonuses

PNC Bank

PNC Bank is a subsidiary of PNC Financial Services Group. It operates in 27 states within the US and has close to 3,000 branches. It recently acquired BBVA USA, which made it the 7th largest bank in the US.

When it comes to what qualifies as a direct deposit for their sign-up bonuses, PNCBank lists the following:

  • Paycheck
  • Pension
  • Social Security
  • Other regular monthly payments

One other condition explicitly noted is that the money must be deposited into the account electronically and must come from an employer or an outside agency.

Customers have noted issues with direct deposits from Ally, Capital One, Charles Schwab, and E*TRADE. If your direct deposits are coming from an account held by any financial institution, confirm eligibility with PNC first.

BankBonusExpiresRequirements 
PNC Bank LogoPNC Virtual Wallet® with Performance Select $400 February 28, 2022
  • Direct Deposit
PNC Bank LogoPNC Virtual Wallet® Checking Pro $200 February 28, 2022
  • Direct Deposit
PNC Bank LogoPNC Virtual Wallet® with Performance Spend $200 February 28, 2022
  • Direct Deposit
see all bonuses

Santander

Santander Bank is a subsidiary of Santander Group – a Spanish multinational financial services company. It operates as a regional bank in the NorthEast region in the US, where it has 650 locations and more than 2,000 ATMs.

When it comes to listing what qualifies as a direct deposit, Santander is relatively straightforward. Payments must be made through the ACH network by someone else (not you), with employers, government, and retirement plans singled out as prime examples.

Furthermore, Santander excludes the following:

  • Individuals making payments using online banking
  • Internet payment providers
  • Payroll advances through a debit card

Customers have raised complaints about several banks, including Capital One, Charles Schwab, Discover, Ally, Citi, TD Ameritrade, USAA, PNC, and US Bank. As always, if you are receiving your paycheck, retirement money, or benefits from any of these banks, make sure you reach out to Santander for confirmation.

BankBonusExpiresRequirements 
Santander Bank LogoSantander Bank Santander Select® Checking $600 January 28, 2022
  • Direct Deposit
  • Minimum Balance (Optional)
Santander Bank LogoSantander Bank Business Checking $450 January 28, 2022
  • Minimum Balance
see all bonuses

Schwab

Schwab, full name Charles Schwab, is one of the biggest financial services firms in the US. They offer brokerage and wealth management services, making them quite different from many other banks on this list.

When it comes to qualifying direct deposits, Schwab takes a very different approach, focusing on net deposits instead.

Net deposits are deposits from which withdrawals are subtracted. As such, this means that any withdrawals must be deposited back to ensure that the full deposit requirement is met.

Furthermore, the money must be new to Schwab, so you cannot transfer from another Schwab account.

There have been no complaints about particular banks from Schwab customers; however, it is always best to verify.

BankBonusExpiresRequirements 
Charles Schwab LogoCharles Schwab Schwab One® $1000 Limited Time
  • Minimum Balance
  • Referral
Charles Schwab LogoCharles Schwab Schwab One® $50 Limited Time
  • Minimum Balance
see all bonuses

TD Bank

TD Bank, which stands for Toronto-Dominion Bank, is a Canadian bank operating in 16 states and the District of Columbia in the United States. Here it counts more than 1,200 branches serving some 6.5 million customers.

TD Bank lists the following as qualifying direct deposits in their bonuses’ terms and conditions:

  • Paycheck
  • Pension
  • Government benefits
  • Other eligible regular monthly income

For direct deposits to qualify, they must come from either your employer or the government. Of course, the money also needs to be deposited electronically into your account. TD Bank also excludes P2P payments as well as transfers from other accounts you own – regardless of whether they’re TD Bank accounts or kept elsewhere.

There haven’t been any complaints about direct deposits from specific banks. However, it is always best to check with TD Bank in case things change in the meantime.

BankBonusExpiresRequirements 
TD Bank LogoTD Bank Beyond Checking $300 March 31, 2022
  • Direct Deposit
TD Bank LogoTD Bank Personal Savings Account $200 March 31, 2022
  • Minimum Balance
TD Bank LogoTD Bank Convenience Checking℠ $150 March 31, 2022
  • Direct Deposit
see all bonuses

US Bank

US Bank is a subsidiary of US Bancorp and is the 5th largest banking corporation in the US. It mainly services Western and Midwestern states where it has over 3,000 branches and close to 5,000 ATMs.

When it comes to qualifying direct deposits, the bank lists the following in their terms and conditions:

  • Paycheck
  • Government benefits

All other forms of electronic deposits, including P2P payments, are explicitly excluded from eligibility. P2P payments generally include payments from PayPal and cash app Venmo and Amazon payments (known as Amazon Pay).

While this may sound very restrictive, there were no complaints about specific banks from US Bank customers.

BankBonusExpiresRequirements 
U.S. Bank LogoU.S. Bank Personal Checking Account $500 January 24, 2022
  • Direct Deposit
U.S. Bank LogoU.S. Bank Cash+® Visa Signature® Card $200 Limited Time
  • Card Spend
U.S. Bank LogoU.S. Bank Altitude® Go Visa Signature® Card 20,000 Points Limited Time
  • Card Spend
see all bonuses

What Counts as a Direct Deposit FAQs

What is considered a qualifying direct deposit?

Qualifying direct deposits are something of a mainstay of most sign-up bonuses. Each financial institution has its own rules of what it considers to be a qualifying direct deposit. Generally speaking, the bank or credit union is looking for a monthly income source such as paycheck, benefits, or pension.

What counts as a direct deposit for a US bank?

US banks have different rules when it comes to what counts as a direct deposit. The rules may also change from one offer to the other. Because of this, it is always best to check the terms and conditions of the offer you want to take.

The article above looked at some of the top US banks and went through their bonus terms and conditions to determine what banks count as a direct deposit. Do keep in mind that the bank can change these rules without notice. Make sure you read up before taking any bonus to avoid disappointment.

Is Zelle considered a direct deposit?

In most cases, Zelle is not considered a direct deposit. Zelle is mainly used to transfer money between friends and family. Banks and credit unions are usually after a monthly income source such as paycheck, benefits, and pension. It is worth noting – some bonuses only require a one-time transfer from an account not held by the same bank. In such cases, this might be allowed, but it is always best to check with the bank beforehand.

What is an example of direct deposit?

When banks say direct deposit, they mean either your paycheck, benefit payments, or pension. Think of direct deposit as your monthly source of income that you receive electronically directly into your bank account. Still, it remains essential to read through any disclaimer or terms and conditions that accompany the bonus to determine what is considered a qualifying direct deposit for that offer.