One of the most obvious answers to the question “Where can I cash my check?” is “Go to the bank.” But many people don’t have any sort of bank account. Approximately 8.4 million households are unbanked, which means they do not have an account at an insured financial institution, according to the 2017 FDIC National Survey of Unbanked and Underbanked Households. What should you do if you need to cash a check and don’t have a bank account?
There might also be a time when you need to get cash from a check immediately, even when you have a bank account. Luckily, you can cash a check at a number of different places, not just banks, no matter the circumstances.
- Places You Can Cash a Check
- Things To Consider When You Cash a Check
- Benefits of a Checking Account Over Check Cashing
- Where Is the Best Place To Cash a Check?
Places You Can Cash a Check
Even if you don’t have a bank account, you still have options if a paper check lands in your hands. First, learn how to cash a check. Then look at places you can go to cash it, including information about the typical fees, requirements and limitations involved.
You can go to the bank or credit union the check is drawn upon to cash it. You’ll find the name of the financial institution on the face of the check. Endorse the check by signing your name on the back at the top and present it to a teller inside the bank or credit union for cashing. You’ll also need to show your driver’s license or some other form of acceptable identification.
But don’t expect this service to be free. Many banks charge a fee for cashing a check if you aren’t a deposit holder there. For example, Bank of America charges $8 for checks greater than $50, and BB&T charges a flat rate of $8 to cash checks for nondepositors.
Related: Best Banks With No Fees
With a prepaid debit card, you can load checks via your mobile phone whenever you need to. Once the funds hit your prepaid account, the money is all yours. To get started, you’ll need to download the mobile app for the card provider, such as Netspend. Then, you’ll select the mobile check load feature and follow the instructions, including taking pictures of the check. When you deposit a check with some prepaid card providers, the funds may be available within minutes.
Note that transactions, fees and other costs and restrictions may apply and will vary according to the provider. For example, Netspend charges nothing for standard check loading but charges the greater of 2% or $5 for expedited government and payroll check loads and the greater of 5% or $5 for all other expedited check types.
A bank isn’t the only place you can trade a check for cash. Some stores, including supermarkets and discount department stores, will cash checks for individuals. Here are some stores that offer this service, the types of checks and the maximum amount they will accept, and the fees they charge.
|Check-Cashing at Retail Stores|
|Store Name||Types of Checks Cashed||Maximum Amount of Check||Checks Cashed Fee|
|Walmart||All preprinted checks, including payroll, government, tax, cashier’s, 401(k), insurance settlement and two-party personal checks||$5,000 for preprinted checks; $200 for two-party personal checks||Preprinted check up to $1,000: $4; from $1,001 to $5,000: $8|
Two-party personal checks up to $200: $6 or less
|Kmart||Payroll, tax refund, government and two-party personal checks||$2,000 for payroll, tax refund and government checks; $500 for two-party personal checks||$1 or less, depending on state|
|Food Lion||Personal, payroll, rebate, tax and U.S. traveler’s checks||Cash a personal check for $50 over purchase; up to $1,000 per payroll check; up to $1,000 for federal or state tax refund checks||Check-cashing fees vary by state|
|Kroger family of stores including King Soopers, Fred Meyer and Fry’s via Money Services||Payroll, government, income tax refund, insurance settlement and business checks||Limits vary by state||Check-cashing fees start at $3 with shoppers card|
|H-E-B||Payroll, government, cashier’s, dividend and insurance checks||Limits vary by store||Check-cashing fees start at $3|
|Stop & Shop||Personal, payroll, government and U.S. traveler’s checks||Personal checks: $50 for new-to-Telecheck customers; $100 for established Telecheck customers|
Limits for other check types may vary
|Check with local store|
Although direct deposit and payroll cards are popular ways for employers to pay employees, some employers might still hand out paper checks. In such cases, your employer may be willing to cash your check for you — with or without a fee. There’s no harm in asking if your employer will cash your paycheck for you.
Choosing to cash a check at a check-cashing outlet, such as ACE Cash Express or United Check Cashing, is likely the most expensive option. Instead of a flat fee, many check-cashing stores charge a percentage fee based on the face value of the check. Percentage fees can range from 1% to 4%, which can add up quickly. For example, if you cash a $1,500 check, you could pay from $15 to $60 in fees, depending on the percentage the fee is based on.
If cashing your check at a check-cashing outlet is your only available option, call ahead to find out the fees. You might be able to save if you shop around.
Learn More: How To Read a Check
If you like using mobile payment solutions, such as Ingo, you can cash a check via the corresponding app. With the Ingo Money app, you can cash checks from $5 to $5,000, for a fee, and often get access to your money within minutes. You have the option of sending the funds to a connected bank account, PayPal account or prepaid or credit accounts.
But fees can be expensive. Preprinted payroll and government checks you cash with Ingo incur a fee of $5 for amounts of $250 or less and 2% for amounts over $250. All other checks of $100 or less also incur a $5 fee, and check amounts over $100 require a fee of 5%.
To learn more about this option, check out the details of these five best check-cashing apps, which can make your mobile check deposits easy.
Things To Consider When You Cash a Check
Cashing a check outside of a bank where you have an account involves a lot more than endorsing the check and handing it over to get fee-free cash. Here are some things to consider before you head to a retailer or check-cashing store to exchange your check for a pile of green:
Expect to pay a fee for check-cashing. Start by going to the issuing bank first. You can call ahead to check on possible fees if the bank is not nearby. If you don’t want to travel to the issuing bank, look for a retailer that charges low fees to cash checks. For example, in some states — like Connecticut, Georgia, New Jersey and Nevada — you can cash a check at Kmart for free.
Documentation or Identification You May Need
Don’t expect to be able to cash a check at any business unless you have at least one form of valid identification. And be aware that some businesses may require two forms of ID. Here are some different types of documentation or identification you might need when you try to cash a check:
- Driver’s license
- State-issued identification
- U.S. passport
- Military ID
- Mexico Matricula Consular identification
- Tribal ID
- Green card
- Resident alien identification
Types of Checks
You may not be able to cash certain types of checks, depending on where you go. For example, many retailers will happily cash payroll, government and tax refund checks, but they might balk when it comes to other types of checks.
Here’s a list of check types that you might find difficult to cash:
- Non-U.S. traveler’s checks
- Handwritten payroll checks
- Insurance checks
- Counter checks
- Rapid refund tax checks
- Credit card checks
- Checks exceeding a certain dollar value
- Two-party or more checks
- Postdated or predated checks
- Starter checks
Benefits of a Checking Account Over Check-Cashing
Having a checking account can provide you with a variety of benefits that cashing checks at retailers, check-cashing outlets or the checkwriter’s bank can’t. Plus, it’s possible to open a bank account online. Here are a few benefits to consider:
- No fees to cash a check
- Options to make withdrawals, write your own checks, use a debit card or initiate digital transfers with your money
- Record of the transactions you make with your pay
- Faster access to your money by participating in direct deposit
Learn: How To Write a Check
Depending on how often you find yourself needing to cash a check and access your money, it will likely be easier to open a checking account. This is especially true if you consider that you will no longer have to pay expensive check-cashing fees or travel to random check-cashing destinations. Find out some of the best checking accounts available — and many have no fees.
Where Is the Best Place To Cash a Check?
Even though you might find it convenient to remain among the ranks of the unbanked and cash checks at your local grocery or check-cashing store, you’re undoubtedly spending more than you need to. For example, if you fork over a $4 fee each time you cash your biweekly check, which you’ll get 26 times per year, you’ll end up losing $104 per year minimum in check-cashing fees.
But it gets worse. If you pay a fee of 2% each time you take your biweekly check to the check-cashing outlet — which equals $30 on each $1,5oo check — you’ll pay $780 in check-cashing fees per year. Handing over that $780 is the equivalent of flushing over half of one of your biweekly paychecks down the toilet.
The best place to cash a check is at your own bank. Cashing a check where you have a bank account can help you avoid unnecessary and expensive fees of check-cashing services and keep your money where it belongs — with you. Get started with this list of the best banks in America.
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