About 7.1 million households are unbanked, meaning they don’t have an account at an insured financial institution, according to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp’s 2019 national survey. on the use of banking and financial services by households. What should you do if you need to cash a check and you don’t have a bank account or can’t get to a bank? Fortunately, you can cash a check in several different places, not just banks, regardless of the circumstances.
Best places where you can cash a check
Even if you don’t have a bank account, you still have options if a paper check falls into your hands. First, learn how to cash a check. Then look at where you can go to cash it in and learn about the typical fees, requirements, and limits involved.
Bank of checks
You can go to the bank or credit union the check is drawn on to cash it. You will find the name of the financial institution on the front of the cheque.
Follow these steps:
- Endorse the check by signing your name at the top of the back.
- Present it to a cashier inside the bank or credit union for cashing.
- You will need to show your driver’s license or other acceptable form of identification.
Here is a visual guide to help you read a check.
Note that many banks charge a fee to cash a check if you don’t have an account there.
- Bank of America: $8 for checks over $50
- Regional Bank: 1% of the amount of the check — $5 minimum to $20 maximum — for checks over $25
- Suntrust: $8 for checks over $50
Check cashing apps
With check cashing apps, you can load checks through your mobile phone whenever you need them. You can send the funds to a connected bank account, PayPal account, or prepaid card. Once the funds have reached your account or card, the money is all yours.
To get started, you’ll need to download the mobile app and link it to an external account or prepaid card. Select the mobile check load function and follow the instructions. This includes taking pictures of the check.
Transaction fees and other costs and restrictions may apply and will vary by provider. Here are examples of what some providers charge:
- Ingo Silver (Standard):
- 2% for payroll and government checks
- 5% for all other checks
- No fees with 10 days of waiting
- Silver Ingo (Gold):
- 1% to 4% depending on the type of check
- Net expenses:
- $0 for standard check loading
- 2% for expedited loads of government and payroll checks
- 5% for all other types of expedited checks
- 1% for payroll and government checks
- 5% for all other checks
- No charge after 10 days of waiting
- Cashing a check is not available in New York
The minimum fee for each provider is $5.
A bank isn’t the only place you can exchange a check for cash. Some stores, including supermarkets and large discount 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.
|Name of the shop||Types of cashed checks||Maximum check amount||Cashed checks|
|walmart||All pre-printed checks including payroll, government, tax, cashier, 401(k), insurance settlement, and two-part personal checks||
|Kroger||Payroll, tax refund, government, insurance, company, and child support checks||$5,000||
Although direct deposit and payroll cards are popular ways for employers to pay employees, some employers may still distribute paper checks. In such cases, your employer may agree to cash your check for you, with or without charge. There’s no harm in asking if your employer will cash your paycheck for you.
Check cashing offices
Cashing a check at a check cashing outlet, such as The Check Cashing Store, ACE Cash Express, or United Check Cashing, is probably the most expensive option. Instead of a flat rate, these stores charge a percentage based on the value of the check.
Good to know
Percentage fees can add up quickly even when they are as low as 1% to 4%. For example, if you cash a check for $1,500, you could pay between $15 and $60 in fees, depending on the percentage the fee is based on.
If cashing your check at a check cashing location is your only available option, call ahead to find out the fee. You may be able to save if you shop around.
Things to consider when cashing a check
Cashing a check outside of a bank where you have an account involves much more than endorsing the check and handing it over to get cash free of charge. Here are a few things to consider before heading to a retailer or check cashing store to redeem your check for a bunch of greenery:
Expect to pay fees for cashing checks. Start by going to the issuing bank first. You can call ahead to check for any charges if the bank is not nearby. If you don’t want to go to the issuing bank, look for a retailer that charges a low fee to cash checks. For example, in several states, such as Connecticut and New Jersey, you can cash a check at Kmart for free.
Documents or IDs you may need
You will need at least one valid ID to cash your check at a business. Some companies may require two pieces of ID.
Here are different types of documents or identification you might need when trying to cash a check:
- Driving license
- State-issued ID
- American passport
- Military ID card
- Mexican Consular Identity Card
- Tribal ID Card
- Green card
- Resident Alien ID
Types of checks
You may not be able to cash certain types of checks, depending on where you are going. For example, many retailers will be happy to cash payroll, government, and tax refund checks, but might be reluctant when it comes to other types of checks.
Here is a list of types of checks that you might find difficult to cash:
- Non-US Travelers Checks
- Handwritten pay checks
- Insurance checks
- Checks at the counter
- Quick refund tax checks
- Credit card checks
- Checks over a certain dollar value
- Multiparty checks
- Post-dated or back-dated checks
- Boot checks
Advantages of a checking account over cashing checks
Having a checking account can provide you with a variety of benefits that cashing checks at retailers, check cashing outlets, or the verifier’s bank cannot. In addition, it is possible to open a bank account online. Here are some 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 transactions you make with your payroll
- Access your money faster by participating in direct deposit.
Depending on how often you need to cash a check and access your money, it’s likely to 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. Check out some of the best checking accounts available. Many have no fees.
Where is the best place to cash a check?
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 costly fees for check cashing services and keep your money where it belongs – with you.
While it may seem convenient to cash checks at your grocery store or local check cashing store, you are undoubtedly spending more than necessary. For example, if you pay more than $4 each time you cash your check every two weeks, which you will receive 26 times a year, you will end up losing $104 per year minimum in check cashing fees.
But it’s getting worse. If you pay a 2% fee – which equals $30 on every $1,500 check – each time you bring your check to the check cashing point every two weeks, you will pay $780 in check cashing per year. Handing over that $780 is the equivalent of flushing more than half of one of your paychecks every two weeks down the toilet.
Daria Uhlig contributed reporting for this article.
Information is accurate as of June 29, 2022.
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