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I wrote a check for rent in the amount of $825. I watched my account to assure the funds would be gone so my checkbook was balanced. Then I saw WITHDRAWAL NSF #### in the amount of $825 But the weird part was it said "In the amount of $825" but only withdrew $27 from my account.

Is this a normal thing that happens when writing personal checks? Should I just expect the rest of the money to follow or was there a problem?

Note: As of now there is $806 in my account, so there is still enough for the full amount (besides the $27 already pulled) and I do not have anything that prohibits me from going to $0.

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    You might need to talk to your landlord right now too - they've not received your rent payment, so the "non payment" window ticker has started.
    – Criggie
    Jul 4, 2023 at 22:56
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    Consider getting a line of credit to cover small timing mismatches like this. I never worry about how many days it takes to clear a cheque after I got my LOC.
    – Nayuki
    Jul 6, 2023 at 5:58
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    @Nayuki I don't think blindly suggesting "get a line of credit" is advisable when you don't know someone's financial picture. A line of credit (LOC) should be a planned endeavor instead of some off-the-cuff suggestion. Once you consider that the interest starts accruing the moment you use it and the bank charges maintenance fees for unused LOCs, things can spiral out of control even faster. If you think your LOC suggestion has merit then feel free to write an answer because it's dangerous as a comment.
    – MonkeyZeus
    Jul 6, 2023 at 14:32
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    note: it's well-known information by now that these NSF funds are a scam. Banks will pretend to do your transactions in a different order to maximize the number of NSF funds they can make you pay, and of course, it doesn't actually cost them anywhere near $27 to handle a bad cheque. The simplest defense is not to get a line of credit, it's to keep a few hundred extra dollars in your account so you don't have NSF! Jul 6, 2023 at 20:08
  • This entire process feels downright medieval. Is this considered normal in the US?
    – user123842
    Jul 7, 2023 at 16:48

2 Answers 2

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"NSF" means "Not Sufficient Funds".

You paid a $27 fee for writing a check for an amount that exceeded the available balance on your account. The check bounced.

You should inquire with the bank why that happened. If you now have $806 after paying the $27 fee - you must have had at least $833, so why did they not honor the $825 check? Did you receive any income after that transaction? You'll have to ask your bank about that.

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    Money might not have been cleared fully, even though it showed on the account, but talk to the bank about it.
    – Nelson
    Jul 4, 2023 at 2:16
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    Note, banks LOVE to process things in the order that favors them (many lawsuits) so that if you deposit something on the same day a check clears, they process the check before the deposit just to increase their fees in the case of a NSF. You can usually argue your way out of the fee if you try
    – horseyride
    Jul 5, 2023 at 12:34
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    I know the OP says that nothing prohibits them from going to $0, but they should really double-check with the bank that there isn't a minimum balance requirement.
    – Nosjack
    Jul 5, 2023 at 13:33
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    I came here to comment what @horseyride already eloquently put out. I vehemently second that. The bank will do what it can get away with (and sometimes what it can't) to squeeze fees out of the customers. The Bank is not your friend. Jul 5, 2023 at 15:19
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    There's another wrinkle to this: writing "bad checks" (checks bounced with NSF) is actually criminal, and can cause a lot of larger problems. Most DAs won't pursue any charges for a single one-off miscalculation, but it is a risk. So a bank doing tricks like that could cause a lot of problems to some people. The CFPB is penalizing banks doing these things (example), so maybe worth reaching out to CFPB as well: consumerfinance.gov/complaint
    – littleadv
    Jul 5, 2023 at 20:10
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I bank with Chase and they define two balances in my account:

Available balance

The amount of money in your account that you can use right now. You can find this balance on receipts you receive at ATMs, from a banker at a branch, at chase.com or in the Chase Mobile app.

Present balance

The total amount of money recorded in your account, including funds not yet available for you to use. This includes pending transactions, authorization holds that are not yet posted or deposits that have not yet been made available. You can find this balance on receipts you receive at ATMs, from a banker at a branch, at chase.com or in the Chase Mobile app.

Your bank might use different terminology but my assumption is the check was cashed before your Available Balance had enough funds to clear the check.

You need to call your bank and inquire why they bounced your check.

You need to also call your landlord and explain the situation.


In my opinion, the nomenclature should be Available Balance and one of:

  • Pending Deposits
  • Uncleared Funds

And neither amount be a roll-up which includes the other amount.

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