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As a regular person (not a bank or an employer or any such thing), can I take some money I have on hand and perform a direct deposit into a bank account for which I have all the necessary details?

The reason I'm asking: a bank near me has offered to give me money if I open a checking account with them and make a direct deposit. As a fan of free money, I would like to take advantage of this, but my employer makes it inconvenient to split my paycheck's direct deposit across multiple accounts (and I already have another checking account that requires monthly direct deposits to avoid fees). As such, it would be neat if I could perform/simulate a direct deposit myself. Is this possible? I don't really know how direct deposits work, mechanically.

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I found a blogger at US News as well as some people on a forum suggesting that, if you have another bank account, you may be able to do it by using that other account to initiate an electronic funds transfer (aka ACH). They say that even a PayPal payment may work. However, the former says that "whether or not this trick works can vary from bank to bank."

You could try doing that and see if it works. I don't think there is any way to know for sure what they would consider a "boan fide" direct deposit without asking them, and if you ask them they will get wise to your game.

  • That would not be a direct deposit. – littleadv Feb 14 '15 at 3:23
  • @littleadv: According to the people on those sites, sometimes it counts as one. I haven't tried it myself, though, so I can't say for sure. – BrenBarn Feb 14 '15 at 3:28
  • Yeah, 3 years have passed since that blog post... I know in the "early days" of ACH transfers it was possible, but not nowadays. – littleadv Feb 14 '15 at 3:29
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    It has worked for me at Chase (or at least did a few years ago - it was from an external account at ING Direct though, not another Chase account). They seemed to more care that there was a regular steam of money coming in rather than that it was a "true" direct deposit. – NextInLine Feb 14 '15 at 3:47
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Generally, ACH transfers are not considered direct deposits. However, you can pay for this service to various providers, and they will do the transfer so that it would be marked as a direct deposit.

For example, Wells Fargo allows doing it using their "DirectPay" system. I happen to have a WF business account (free with conditions) where this service is available, but there are plenty of providers.

It does cost money (for WF - $10 monthly fee + $0.50 for a transfer to non-WF account), but it may be worth it for you if the benefit is large enough.

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