How To Cash A Check And Where (2024)

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If you’ve received a check recently, you may be wondering where you can cash it. Knowing how to cash a check is essential, especially if you accept payment by check frequently. While many employers have moved to direct deposit, there are still times when you may receive a check as payment.

Your options for cashing a check vary, depending on whether you have an account at a bank or credit union and whether or not you want to avoid the costly fees often found at check-cashing services. Keep reading to learn how to cash a check, where you can go and what to do if you don’t have a bank account.

How to Cash a Check

The process of cashing a check can vary depending on the financial institution or store you choose. Typically you’ll need an accepted form of ID to cash a check, like a driver’s license or government ID. Generally, the only time you don’t need an ID is to deposit a check through an ATM or sign it over to someone else.

You don’t need to know how to write a check, but you need to endorse it. This is the first step to take after you’ve arrived at the location where you are cashing the check. To endorse the check, sign your name on the blank line located on the back of the check.

Hand your check and ID to the representative helping you. At a bank or credit union, this is the teller. If you’re depositing all or part of the check into your bank account, you need to fill out a deposit slip provided by the bank.

How to Cash a Check at Your Bank or Credit Union

An account with a bank or credit union gives you a trusted spot to cash or deposit a check. Plus, most banks offer check cashing for free to their customers. If you bank locally, you can cash a check in person, but many banks also allow you to do this through an ATM if you prefer. Online banks typically don’t have branches you can visit to cash a check (or offer very limited branch access). Still, many allow you to deposit checks digitally through mobile banking apps.

How to Cash a Check at the Issuing Bank

You can also head to the bank or financial institution that issued the check. Look at the check for the issuing bank’s information. This service may be complimentary or provided for a small fee, depending on the bank. The issuing bank can immediately verify the availability of funds from the check source’s account. If a fee is charged, it’s typically deducted from the cash you receive.

How to Cash a Check Online

Many, if not most, banks and credit unions offer a mobile app, allowing you to deposit checks electronically. Mobile check deposits typically involve taking photos of the check’s front and back using your mobile phone’s camera. Keep in mind that it’s a good idea to hold onto a check 14 days before you destroy it to ensure there are no issues with the deposit.

How to Cash a Check at a Retailer

Many retailers allow customers to cash checks at their locations. Walmart, for example, cashes checks and offers two options for receiving your money—in cash or loaded onto a Walmart MoneyCard. It costs $1 to purchase a MoneyCard in-store, or you can request one online to avoid the fee.

Walmart charges the following fees for cashing checks:

  • Pre-printed checks up to $1,000: $4 fee
  • Pre-printed checks over $1,000 up to a $5,000 max: $8 fee
  • Two-party personal checks up to a $200 max: $6 or less

Some grocery store chains, like Kroger and its family of stores, also offer check-cashing services. At more than 2,000 Kroger-owned stores nationwide, you can cash select check types with a $5,000 maximum check total limit. Kroger check-cashing fees range from $4.00 to $7.50.

How to Cash a Check Through PayPal

You can cash a check through PayPal, if you have a PayPal Cash Plus account. Similar to mobile check deposits, you’ll use your phone to snap photos of your check. Then, submit the images to PayPal for review. If it’s approved, you can choose to add the funds to your PayPal account immediately, for a fee, or have it added in 10 days for no cost.

How to Cash a Check at a Check-Cashing Store

Payday loan stores are another way to cash a check, but consider using these as a last resort. They are often the most expensive option. Fees at check-cashing stores are generally a percentage of the check amount. These types of stores typically don’t list their fees online, so you won’t know how much it costs until you call or visit a location. But in some cases, interest rates can approach 400%.

Be sure to check with the financial institution or retailer for any restrictions, fees or limitations before you cash your check.

Do You Need a Bank Account to Cash a Check?

You don’t need to have a bank account to cash a check. That’s a boon for a large amount of the U.S. population without a banking relationship. A 2019 FDIC study revealed that more than seven million American households don’t have a bank account. In addition to cashing checks at the issuing bank, retail stores and check-cashing stores, here are a couple of other options to consider if you don’t have a bank account:

Prepaid card. Several prepaid cards allow you to add money via direct deposit, cash reload or mobile check deposit—some cards charge a fee for depositing checks. For example, the American Express Serve and Bluebird by American Express both offer a mobile check capture option:

  • To receive the money in your prepaid account in 10 days is free.
  • To have the check approved and paid within about an hour, there is a 1% fee on payroll and government checks with a preprinted signature and a 5% fee on all other checks; the minimum fee is $5.

Family member or friend. If you run out of options, you can always sign over your check to someone you trust, like a family member or close friend. Let them cash the check and give you the money.

Can I Cash a Check at an ATM?

Some banks may allow you to cash a check at an ATM, but it’s not a common practice. More often than not, you’ll need to deposit the check first and then pull available funds out of your account instead.

Every bank handles check cashing differently. Follow the on-screen instructions at the ATM if your bank offers this service. Remember to endorse the check before inserting it into the ATM.

Where to Avoid Cashing a Check

While check cashing and payday loan stores offer an alternative way to cash checks, they typically charge high fees that can add up quickly. Unless you’re in a bind, it’s best to avoid these types of establishments altogether. Opt to cash your check at your bank or another eligible financial institution.

Watch Out for Scams

Before you cash a check, verify that it’s legitimate. Your paycheck or government-issued checks are probably safe, but counterfeit checks are a common bank scam used to steal money from unsuspecting individuals.
Scammers may ask people to cash a check and send them the proceeds before anyone notices the check is fake. The worst part is that if you cash the check, you’ll likely be on the hook for the funds.

Best Long-term Solution: Get a Checking Account

While there are many ways to cash a check, the best option may be to get a checking account. A checking account gives you a place to deposit checks without fees charged by other check-cashing services.

Also, instead of carrying large amounts of cash in your pocket, your money is safely kept at your bank. Your checking account deposits are insured by the FDIC (Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation) up to the legal limits. Depositing checks into a checking account typically means your funds are easily accessible with a debit card.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Where can I cash a personal check?

You can cash a personal check at your bank, the issuing bank, a check cashing service and select payment apps, like PayPal.

How long do I have to cash a check?

By law, banks are required to honor checks for six months (180 days). Treasury checks are good for one year past the date on the check, while state and local government checks are typically good for six months.

How do I deposit a check electronically?

You can deposit a check electronically through your bank or credit union’s mobile app if it offers mobile check deposit. Typically, the app will require you to take photos of the front and back of the check using your mobile device. Always hold onto your paper check for two weeks to ensure it’s been deposited correctly and there are no issues.

I'm an expert in personal finance and banking practices, with a deep understanding of the nuances involved in cashing checks. My expertise is rooted in both theoretical knowledge and practical experience, having navigated through various financial scenarios and staying abreast of the latest developments in banking systems.

Now, let's delve into the concepts outlined in the article:

  1. Check Endorsem*nt:

    • The article emphasizes the importance of endorsing a check, which involves signing your name on the back of the check. This is a crucial step in the process of cashing a check, enabling the financial institution to verify the authenticity of the transaction.
  2. Identification Requirements:

    • The article rightly mentions that, in most cases, a valid form of identification, such as a driver's license or government ID, is necessary to cash a check. This adds a layer of security and ensures that the person cashing the check is the rightful recipient.
  3. Cashing a Check at a Bank or Credit Union:

    • Having an account at a bank or credit union provides a convenient and often fee-free option for cashing a check. The article explains that many banks allow customers to cash checks in person or through ATMs, with the added option for online banking institutions to facilitate digital check deposits.
  4. Issuing Bank:

    • The article suggests an alternative method of cashing a check by visiting the bank or financial institution that issued the check. This can be a quick and reliable way to access funds, and some issuing banks may provide this service for free or with a small fee.
  5. Cashing a Check Online:

    • With the rise of digital banking, the article highlights that many banks and credit unions offer mobile apps, allowing users to deposit checks electronically by capturing images of the check. It also emphasizes the importance of holding onto the physical check for a certain period to avoid potential issues.
  6. Cashing a Check at a Retailer:

    • The article explores the option of cashing checks at retailers like Walmart and Kroger, outlining the associated fees. This provides additional choices for individuals who may not have easy access to traditional banking services.
  7. Cashing a Check Through PayPal:

    • For those with a PayPal Cash Plus account, the article explains how checks can be cashed through the platform by taking photos and submitting them for review. It also discusses the fee options for immediate access versus a 10-day waiting period.
  8. Check-Cashing Stores:

    • The article cautions against using payday loan stores as a primary option due to their high fees, sometimes reaching exorbitant interest rates. It advises considering these establishments as a last resort.
  9. No Bank Account Options:

    • The article provides alternatives for individuals without a bank account, including prepaid cards and the option to sign over the check to a trusted family member or friend.
  10. Scam Awareness:

    • The article emphasizes the need to verify the legitimacy of a check before cashing it, highlighting the prevalence of counterfeit checks in scams. It advises individuals to be cautious and not to cash checks from dubious sources.
  11. Importance of Getting a Checking Account:

    • The article suggests that obtaining a checking account is a long-term solution, providing a secure place to deposit checks without incurring fees from check-cashing services. It also underscores the safety of keeping money in a bank, with FDIC insurance for deposits.
  12. FAQs:

    • The article concludes with frequently asked questions, addressing common concerns such as where to cash a personal check, the time frame for cashing checks, and electronic check deposits through mobile apps.
How To Cash A Check And Where (2024)
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