History of Checks
From the 9th to 13th century, Middle Eastern and Mediterranean traders often carried paper documents that represented their finances because it was safer and lighter than carrying around bags of silver and gold. Handwritten orders for the transferring funds to secure cashiers, or early banks, were used in 16th and 17th century Europe. But the first printed checks were made available in England in the 18th century.
Once clearinghouses were established in the 19th century as a way for banks to facilitate easier transactions, check usage became very popular in the United States. In the 1950s, 28 million checks were being written per day, which put great strain on the bank system. In 1959, magnetic ink characters were introduced to speed up the processing of each check. The popularity of checks continued through the end of the 20th century, with 49.5 billion checks being written in 1995 in America alone.
The early 21st century brought debit cards and ACH transfers, as well as a burgeoning online commerce marketplace. Paper checks proved less necessary than before. In 1998, after a combined effort between banks, federal financial groups and technology companies, the eCheck was born.
How They Work
To put it simply, an instant check functions like a paper check, except it’s faster, safer and cheaper.
- A merchant (the poker site) provides the payer (you) with an eCheck form to complete. The form’s required information includes the bank’s routing number, the payer’s account number and the name on the account. The payer specifies the eCheck’s amount, then authorizes the payment.
- The now-encrypted document is submitted to the merchant’s payment processing service who runs this EFT (electronic funds transfer) through the ACH (automated clearing house), within the next 24 to 48 hours.
- The amount is withdrawn from the payer’s checking account and is deposited into the merchant’s bank’s account. Once the funds have cleared, they are deposited in the merchant’s own account, about three to five business days later.
Instant Check Poker Deposits vs. Other Banking Options
Here is a comparison of the many advantages to the instant check payment system.
- Because eCheck fees are lower than credit card fees for merchants, sellers are motivated to offer eChecks as a payment option.
- While wire transfers cost $25-$50, eChecks are free for online poker players.
- It provides a payment solution for customers who don’t use credit cards and are resistant to e-wallet services.
- Every transaction is fully encrypted, uses public key cryptography and digital signatures. These steps hide and secure your information.
- eChecks are also backed by federal banking regulations, which add another level of protection against fraud.
Drawbacks to eChecks
With so many new payment options available to merchants and consumers, the eCheck has some shortcomings.
- While credit card payments post instantly, eCheck payments take three to five business days. To many 21st century customers this may seem like a virtual eternity.
- Online payment services like PayPal and EcoPayz let you make payments without sharing your bank account information on any merchant’s form.
- Credit card and online payment system options require less data entry and thus reduce the chance of typing errors. Incorrect eCheck information results in a longer wait and possible processing fees from a bank.
- Though every eCheck transaction is protected, make sure to research the poker operator thoroughly before filling out their payment form with your banking information. Disputing a gambling charge with your bank may prove to be difficult.
Step-By-Step Guide to Playing Poker with Instant Checks
Because of the low payee fees, many internet eCheck poker sites have ACH merchant accounts which let them accept eChecks for deposits. Here’s how to fund your poker account with an eCheck:
- You’ll first need a poker account before you can make any deposits. If you already have one, skip to Step 2. If you don’t have one yet, look for the “New Account” or “Create Account” link on the poker site’s main page. Click it, then follow all the prompts to complete the account’s setup.
- Log in to your poker account.
- Find the “Cashier” or “Banking” link and click it.
- Amongst the options, select the “Deposit” link, tab or window.
- Review the payment methods and choose “eCheck”.
- This will bring up the payment form. Fill out the requested information which will include your name, bank account and routing number.
- Enter in your deposit amount, making sure it follows the poker site’s minimum and maximum requirements. Also be sure not to overdraw from your bank account with this eCheck.
- Click the “Authorize” or “Accept” button.
- You may also need to accept the site’s Terms and Conditions page. Make sure to read it, then click the “Accept” button or check box.
- You should receive an onscreen confirmation, which you may save or print. An email confirmation may also be forthcoming.
- The online poker room should notify you when the payment clears. You can also monitor your account balance in three to five business days.
- Once your balance updates with the deposit, it’s time to play!
Frequently Asked Questions
How long does it take for an eCheck to clear?
eChecks require three to five business days to clear and post to the poker site’s bank account.
Are there any fees associated with an eCheck deposit?
You will see no extra charges coming from your bank or the poker room as long as you’ve filled out the eCheck form accurately. Entry errors may incur processing fees.
What are the differences between an eCheck and a wire transfer?
Domestic wire transfers clear within one business day, while eChecks can take up to five business days. But while eChecks are free for the payer, wire transfers incur at least one fee, ranging from $25-$50. So with wire transfers, you’re paying for speed.
Can I cash out using an eCheck option?
While eChecks are rarely offered for withdrawals, you may see an “ACH bank transfer” option that functions similarly and requires the same sort of bank account information.
Are there eCheck deposit limits for my poker account?
Your deposit has two limiting factors. Your eCheck must be equal to or less than the bank account’s balance, otherwise overdraft and processing fees will be charged. The eCheck accepted online poker site also has minimum and maximum deposit rules. Be sure to review these before funding your account.
Can I still qualify for the poker room’s welcome bonus if I make my first deposit with an eCheck?
Yes, you’ll be eligible for the welcome bonus. Make sure to read the poker site’s Terms and Conditions page because there may be some fine print regarding how and when the bonus may be used.
Deposit funds safely with an eCheck
eChecks are similar to paper checks except quicker and more secure. Each one is protected by the highest encryption levels, as well as federal banking standards. You won’t have to dip into your credit line nor sign up for a separate payment service. So an eCheck is a great, cheap option for the patient player.