When someone writes you a personal check, you can either cash it or deposit it into your bank account to get the money. Getting your hands on the cash can sometimes cost you time or money — especially if you don’t have a bank account. Here’s how to cash a check and how much it may cost you.
How To Cash a Check
To exchange a paper check for cash at a bank, follow these steps:
Steps To Cash a Check
- Endorse the check by signing the back of it.
- Submit the check to the bank for payment.
- To cash a check in person, visit a branch and speak to a teller.
- To cash a check at an ATM, deposit the check, and then withdraw the amount you want.
- Note that some of the funds might not be available before the check clears.
- Show your photo identification.
- Some banks may also ask to see your debit card or an additional form of identification.
- Requirements vary by bank, so contact your bank for more details.
Can You Cash a Check at Any Bank?
You can cash a check at any bank that’s willing to do it for you. This includes the issuing bank and the bank where you have a checking or savings account.
Some banks also offer check-cashing services to anyone who pays a fee. For example, you will pay a minimum fee of $5 to cash checks at Regions.
How To Cash a Check Without a Bank Account
You can still cash a check even if you don’t have a checking account, but you will have to pay a fee for the service. Here are three other options for cashing a check.
The easiest way is to visit the issuing bank if you live near a branch. Rules for non-account holders can vary from bank to bank, so verify what you need to cash the check before going inside.
Check-cashing apps are a convenient way to cash checks without stopping in a bank or retail store. To use an app, you’ll have to sign up for an account. Then follow these steps to use a check-cashing app:
- Sign in to the app.
- Take a photo of the front and back of the check.
- Select how you want to receive the money.
- Submit the check for approval through the app.
When you cash a check through a check-cashing app, the service may deposit the funds directly in your bank account or to a prepaid card. Alternatively, you may be able to apply the money to your PayPal account, pay bills through the app or pick up cash at a service location.
Retailers and Grocery Stores
Some retailers offer check-cashing services for their customers. For example, select Walmart stores cash all preprinted checks, including payroll, government and two-party personal checks. The maximum fee for a check up to $1,000 is $4. Kroger has a similar service and charges $4 or $4.50 to cash checks.
Other retailers include:
- H-E-B: $3
- Kmart: $0 to $1
Where You Shouldn’t Cash a Check
If you have no other options, you can cash a check instantly by visiting a check-cashing, cash-advance or payday-lending store. Only use these companies as a last resort because they typically charge higher fees than banks and other retailers.
Because these types of companies don’t usually post their fees online, it’s hard to determine how much you’ll pay before you get there. The highest rates are reserved for the riskiest types of checks: handwritten checks drawn on personal accounts.
Watch Out for High Fees
Check-cashing stores and payday lenders tend to charge a percentage of the check’s value instead of a flat fee. For example, Amscot charges 9.9% to cash a personal check. If you’re looking to cash a $500 personal check, the fee would be $49.50. Looking for low-fee solutions can help keep more money in your pocket.
Tips for Cashing a Check
Accepting a check for payment is riskier than being paid in cash. Until you cash it, you may not know there’s a problem with the check. Here are a few tips to remember when cashing a check:
- Make sure the check is properly written to you. Your name should be spelled correctly, and the check should be signed.
- Verify the date and check amount.
- Cash the check as soon as you can, and verify its validity.
- Watch for signs that you’re dealing with a check scammer.
- Look for free or low-cost options when cashing a check.
How To Open a Checking Account
The cheapest and fastest way to cash a check is to open a checking account. Here’s how to do that:
- Choose a bank or credit union.
- Gather the necessary documents and a funding source, such as cash, a bank routing number or a debit card.
- Visit a branch or complete an online application for the account you want.
- Make the minimum initial deposit into the account.
The account-opening process can vary, so check with the bank or credit union for specific details.
This article has been updated with additional reporting since its original publication.