Float Time

DEFINITION of 'Float Time'

The amount of time between when an individual writes and submits a check as a payment and when the individual's bank receives the instruction to move funds from the account. Before the implementation of the Check Clearing for the 21st Century Act (Check 21), the average float time was two to four days, but now most checks are cleared within a day.


Prior to Check 21, individuals would sometimes take advantage of long float times and send out checks despite not having enough money in their accounts to cover the value of the check. This can give creditors the impressions that payment was available despite the fact that the individual did not have the funds when he or she actually wrote the check.

Individuals who attempt to use a check's float time in the manner previously described should be aware that doing so will likely result in a number of bounced checks as float times have become dramatically shorter because transferring checks in electronic format has hastened the clearing process.