What Is Availability?
Availability refers to funds that have been deposited by a third-party check into a customer's bank account. These funds are typically not usable by the customer until the check clears, or they become "good funds."
Third-party checks are available according to a schedule that relies on the location of the bank on which the check is drawn. The maximum number of days that a check can be held is set by the Expedited Funds Availability Act, assuming the check is good.
An Example of Availability
Examples of availability and rules of banking can be found on the U.S. Federal Reserve Board's website. Consider the following: If customer James Smith deposits a $5,000 certified check to his bank teller at 9:00 a.m. on a Monday, the funds would be available on Tuesday. If he made the deposit at an ATM, the first $100 must be made available by Tuesday at the latest, and the remaining funds must be made available by Wednesday because it is a certified check. According to the Federal Reserve Board, if the customer made a deposit at a non-proprietary ATM, the funds may be held until the following Monday, the fifth business day, and the requirement to make the first $100 available one day prior does not apply.
The confusion around availability can happen when a customer makes a deposit and assumes it is available immediately upon receipt.