How Quick Could You Withdraw A $100,000 From A Bank Account?

I’ve been reading a few books about the Jon-Benet murder and the ransom was for $118,000

Now leaving that case aside totally, I was just wondering, how difficult would it be to go into a bank and get that amount?

I assume it would depend on the size of the bank and city. Such as in NYC it would be easier than in say Key West, Florida.

And how hard to get it in certain denominations such as hundreds or twenties.

Would there be paperwork that would have to be filled out (in addition to the routine withdrawal procedure). I realize this was before 9-11 and money laundering laws are now much tougher.

Without significant planning, appropriate equipment and a getaway car there is no way in hell I get $100,000 from a bank.

It depends.

Most banks have language in their account agreements allowing them to limit the amount of cash an account holder can withdrawal in a given day. This is to help prevent a run on the bank; therefore, they have the right to make it days until they make that much available to you.

Assuming you are rich enough to have $100m in your bank account & assuming the branch has enough cash on hand, there’s no reason you couldn’t give it to you right away as long as they have enough for the rest of their expected volume during the day, or longer. Even if they didn’t have the cash on hand, it could be as quick as they can arrange for an armored car delivery. There is probably some cost for the extra delivery so you might need to pay for that.

Again, assuming you’re rich enough, would you really need $100m lying around, uninvested. If you had the money but it was in a liquid investment, a money market, a t-bill, available margin loan, even a mutual fund it would take some time to get those funds from one account to the other. In many of those cases, the cash isn’t available to you until the next day. Now if your bank & brokerage are both at the same institution, they might be willing to expedite the process & ‘front’ you the money before it’s available in your bank account, just like if you deposit a government or payroll check it may clear faster than if I wrote you a personal check.

OTOH, if you went to the authorities, I doubt they’d make you put up your money for the ransom drop so it would be their problem to worry about, not yours. I’m sure a bank is more willing to work with the FBI than some random schmoe who won’t tell them why he needs the money so quickly.

$100000 or $100000000? If it’s the former, depending on the branch, they may not have that much cash just lying around, or there may be a limit- either way, it may take a day or two, so you should make an appointment. When you show up you are led into a back room where they bring you your cash and you have a chance to count it (don’t forget to bring a shoebox or backpack or something to carry it!) You don’t need to tell them what it’s for.

Do I have that much liquidity? Yes.

Could I get the cash? Not likely. I needed $12k one time and I had to give the credit union a couple of days notice.

That’s not true. Banks have the right to ask you what it’s for, for IRS reporting, and apparently can deny it if they don’t think there’s a legal purpose involved.

From the historical example, I assume you’re talking cash.

Just to cover the other alternative, you can go to a bank and get a cashiers check for whatever amount you have on deposit. No, they don’t have a right to make you wait to avoid a run on the bank. Since the limit to FDIC insurance is generally $250k per depositor (though ‘you’ and ‘your IRA account’ counts as 2 depositors) people with even huge amounts of money don’t normally normally keep larger amounts in banks, but they might liquidate securities and send it to a bank in a larger amount just to withdraw it as a cashiers check.

If it’s cash depends how much they have on hand at the bank which might not be $100k, and it’s obviously not public information how much cash is at a particular branch at a particular time. To give two smaller real life examples, I once needed to withdraw $30k from my business’s account for a legitimate payment to somebody who insisted it be in cash. I called ahead to the branch, might have been a couple of days in advance, going to be there to withdraw $30k in cash, and they said sure. I don’t know if that meant they normally kept that much around (branch of a major national bank in downtown Brooklyn, NY) or they’d just put in for it to be included and delivered as part of the bank’s overall net daily cash transaction with the NY Fed. But they had it when I got there, and did not ask any further questions beyond verifying that it was me. However another time in a smaller branch of same bank in my residential neighborhood in the NY area I needed $9k cash to buy a car and they had it but not all in $100’s, I had to accept big bunches of $20’s for several $k of it, just walking in with no notice. I assume if I’d asked them for $30k they’d have said I had to wait till next day or take part of it as a cashiers check.

A $10k cash transaction generally triggers a report to the IRS. I’m not sure if that’s true if it’s a company (like the one I mentioned) rather than individual transaction. But that doesn’t mean they won’t do it. OTOH banks have internal compliance procedures which might require extra steps of approval, or inquiry, even below $10k and might have additional measures at higher thresholds that they are again not going to make public. That might include calling in the police or FBI to ask you if you are withdrawing the money because you are being extorted. You’ll know if you run into one. However it’s still your money and ultimately you get it if you insist, just drawing more and more attention the more it is and the further away in the banking system they have to go to find that much cash.


I took 40 grand out once to go to an auction. I had to go to a different branch and still wait 4 hours for them to get it together. But they didn’t blink an eye. Just had to identify myself. That was in 2015.

Early this year I tried to take 5K out. They wanted me to fill out a form with an explanation of what I was doing with the money. “What are you, my mother giving me my allowance?”. I refused to sign anything.
I still got the cash without any argument. If I’m on some subversive list for using my own dough to pay bills and travel so be it. I haven’t noticed any surveillance vans on my block or clicking on my phone line. :stuck_out_tongue:

On occasion I’ll use a money order to make a car payment and they’ll ask me what I am going to use it for. Could $512.37 be any more of an oddball amount that you’d think I was doing something illicit with it?

Another possible reason for banks asking is that over the last few years Congress and state legislatures have been passing laws allowing banks to deny or defer withdrawals if they suspect an elderly person is withdrawing the money to give to a scammer.

No bank is going to have that much cash on hand unless someone else walked in and deposited it that day. Even if they had it, it would probably take a couple of business days for them to hand it over. But it also shouldn’t take much longer than that for them to get it, depending on the location.

Not exactly. Any bank that has a need for $100k plus on hand on any given day will have that, plus a relatively small cushion. No bank wants to run out of cash. These days they have algorithms and forecasting software to tell them how much they need to order/ship each day in order to have enough on hand for the next day, back when I was a branch manager it was all done by feel. When Friday fell on the 1st or 15th we had to basically double our regular cash on hand and even a small branch had well over $100k in cash - especially if they serviced their own ATM.

The real question is not whether the bank/branch has that amount on hand, it’s whether they have that amount over and above what they think they need for that day. The answer to that would be “Probably not”. Cash sitting in branch vaults costs the bank money in lost investment opportunity. That said, for most banks/branches you would just need to let them know one day in advance so that they could order sufficient cash to meet your needs and still be able to handle normal business.

Last fall I bought a condo for about US$400,000 (it was CAD515,000) and made a bridge loan from my son. It was wired into my account one day and withdrawn (on a bank money order, not cash) the next. The teller asked me briefly what it was for and, after I explained, prepared the money order immediately. I think he had to get an officer to approve it, but it still took no time. Cash would have been much harder since they don’t generally have that much US money on hand. (In case you are interested, I took it to my financial advisor who was able to change it to CAD at the bank to bank rate, no fee) and then give me a new cashier’s cheque for the correct amount.)

I suspect many banks would. I worked in the IT department at a bank 20 years ago. I once was talking to a lady that was putting cash away at the end of the day in the safe. I asked her how much was in those drawers. She said something like “about 180K in this drawer, about 200K in that drawer, etc” for several drawers. My guess is that they had about $1-1.5M in cash in that location.

Now, this wasn’t a tiny branch. It was a location that served as a HQ for about 20 other smaller branches in a rural county.

But in a larger city I imagine many branches would have $200K+ in cash.

Several years ago I bought a house for somewhere around $125k. Paid with a cashiers check. Took three days to assemble the money which involved selling some stock.

I’ve withdrawn cash for boat purchases, once $8,000 and once $12,000. I remember the teller asking what the $$ was for and answering “a party”.

I’d have to withdraw it from a CD, but I’m pretty sure I could get it as soon as my CU could process the paperwork. It’s not a big credit union, but I’m pretty sure that much cash wouldn’t be a big problem. I could be wrong…

Thanks for posting this; I’ve been wondering this myself.

I think I can summarize that for sums over $10,000, one may have to wait a few hours unless they are at a very large location of a major bank. If their institution is smaller, like a local credit union, it could take a few days.

I believe this is how the feds were originally tipped off about the Elliot Spitzer prostitution scandal.

I’ve taken largeish sums out in cash before, but never $100,000. My experience is very small branches, as stated, may have trouble pulling together $10k on short notice. None of the banks I’ve worked with try to make it hard for you, but they can’t give you what they don’t have, and may ask for a few days to get it in.

In a case like the Ramsey one, I imagine if the parents had a bank account with a national or regional bank, they would go to a major branch in downtown Salt Lake City and make the cash withdrawal, those types of branches usually have significantly more money on hand.