Do you have a check in hand but aren’t sure how to cash it? Or maybe you have a check but are not near your bank.
Fortunately, you have several options for how to cash a check, and many of them might be as simple as visiting a business near you.
In general, when you are paid with a check, you have two options for how to gain access to your money. You can use either cash the check or deposit it. If you need the money right away, then you should figure out where to cash a check near you. Of course, you will also want to find a place that you can cash your check with minimal fees as well.
Here are a few of our favorite places to cash a check.
The Best Check Cashing Options
The Bank Listed on the Check
Typically, people will cash a check at their bank. This process involves depositing the check in to your bank account, then immediately withdrawing the funds. However, you might not have a bank branch available to you. The second option then is to see if there is a branch of the bank that wrote the check available. At one of those locations, a bank teller would allow you to withdraw cash as long as you don't have a fake check.
To find the check issuer’s bank, simply look in the bottom left corner of the check. Then, call or visit the local branch to figure out their check cashing policy. When you visit the bank with the check, they will be able to verify the amount in the issuer’s account and give you cash. They may have an extra layer of security in which they have to call the issuer to ensure that the check is real before giving you your money.
Going to the issuing bank is typically the least expensive way to get your cash other than cashing the check at your own bank. Each bank will have different terms and requirements for check cashing, but typically they will charge a flat rate or percentage of the check. You will also need to bring at least one form of ID to prove that the check is made out to you.
Do it Online
If you do not have a bank account but do have a smartphone, you may be able to cash a check online. If you download an app like PayPal or Ingo, you can deposit money from online and physical checks. Then, you can endorse the check by signing the back and taking a photo of each side. When the check is approved, the money is deposited into your account.
To access this money, you can use a prepaid card or pick up the money in person at a MoneyGram location. Additionally, you can use the funds in the account to purchase gift cards to use or sell, such as Amazon gift cards. Additionally, many people and companies will allow you to pay for things online using your PayPal account, so you may want to leave the funds in your account for future purchases.
The fees for depositing a check online typically require a base fee of $5. Any amount over $250 usually incurs an additional 2% fee. Therefore, if you are depositing a $1,000 check, only $980 will show up in your PayPal or Ingo account. If you transfer the money to a prepaid debit card, you may also end up paying ATM fees to get the money in cash.
Walmart Check Cashing
If you do not have access to a bank, Walmart might be your next best option. With over 5,000 locations, most people live within several miles of a Wal mart where they can easily cash checks. Most Walmarts have a check-cashing business inside, and they can cash written checks, government, checks, tax checks, cashiers’ checks, payroll checks, money orders, and more. You can choose to receive cash or get the money on a reloadable Walmart Moneycard.
The fees at Walmart are relatively reasonable. If you are cashing a personal check, the minimum fee is $6, and you can cash a maximum of $200.
Additionally, the limit cashback amount on a check is $5,000 for most of the year, and during tax season, the amount goes up to $7,500. Therefore, if you have a larger check to cash, you may want to look elsewhere—plan to bring your government ID to prove that the check is made out to you.
A Grocery Store
Like Walmart, many grocery stores also offer options for cashing a check. They also typically only take certain kinds of checks and require a government issued ID to verify your identity. Check cashing service isn't available at every type of store, and many have restriction on personal checks or your tax refund, but business checks are usually fine.
Check cashing limits will vary from store to store, so you might want to call ahead to see what parameters your local store has. A benefit to using a grocery store is that you likely already visit the grocery store regularly, so you will not have to use your free time to go somewhere else to cash your check.
If the check cashing stores you've tried deny you or aren't accepting your check amount, consider getting cash back on a purchase. Most stores don't charge fee for getting cash while making a purchase. The other alternative is to load cash onto prepaid debt cards.
A Local Gas Station
Many gas stations and convenience stores have proprietary check cashing options. For example, 7-Eleven has the Transact company in which users can download the app, upload photos of their checks, then pick up their funds at a local 7-Eleven. Other convenience stores work with Vcom to offer similar services to their customers. Most of these options will give you a prepaid cash card rather than cash, and the funds will take up to 48 hours to become available.
Truck stops and travel centers also commonly offer check cashing services. Not every location will offer check cashing, to be sure to call ahead or plan to stop by several sites if you need to cash a check at a travel center, gas station, or similar business.
Banks or Credit Unions
The best place to go to avoid check cashing fees and to get cash quickly is your own financial institution or credit union. Depending on the amount many will allow you to turn your check into cash with no fee and no holds.
Most will require you to have an account and some form of personal information such as a photo ID or other identification card. Using a bank or credit union is better than any check cashing place when you need money.
If you don't have a checking account or savings account you should consider opening one even if its for deposit only. Most banks offer free checking accounts. In most cases, when you open bank account you also get access to do mobile banking. Using your mobile device, you can take a paper check, sign it, write your account number, take a picture and do a mobile deposit . It's free, making a deposit only takes a few seconds compared to a bank/ credit union.
If you have a payroll check, your employer might be able to cash your check. There are several specific laws surrounding payroll, so most employers do not offer this service.
The plus side is that if your employer does offer this option, there is no limit to how the dollar amount that your employer can cash. Sometimes, they will also cash non-payroll checks, but the legal limit is $1,000 per day.
You can check with your Human Resources department or your direct supervisor to find out if this is an option for you.
Check Cashing Companies
Several companies exist specifically for people who do not have access to banks. Check cashing companies know that they have a cornered market and therefore charge some of the highest fees. The fees can vary between companies and even between locations of the same company, but it is not uncommon to pay double-digit fees on the amount that you are cashing.
Companies you may want to research are Check Express, Ace Cash Checking, and United Check Cashing. Some companies might also require a credit check before they will cash a check for you. This might affect your credit score, so be sure to understand the repercussions, fees, and processes before using a check cashing company to cash a check.
Endorse the Check
All checks payable to you must be signed by you in one way or another. If you do not have a bank account or bank nearby, you might be able to sign the check over to someone that does. To endorse a check, you will write ‘Pay to the order of’ and then the person’s name that you are endorsing it too.
Only write on the endorsement lines on the back of the check. Then, sign your name underneath. Then, the person that you signed the check over to can cash the check at their bank and give you the funds. This is fee-free, but you must only leverage this option with someone that you trust. Regardless of how you're trying to make a deposit, the check must be endorsed.
Check Cashing FAQ’s
If this is your first time cashing a check, then you may have some questions about the process. Here is everything you need to know about cashing a check.
What documents do I need to bring to cash a check?
You will almost always need to bring at least one form of government ID to prove that the check you are cashing is made out to you. This might include a passport, driver’s license, or other ID. Be sure that your form of ID is not expired. If you do not have an ID, then your only options are to endorse the check to someone else, cash the check online, or open an account with a bank and use their online app to upload the check.
Can I cash a check at an ATM?
Even if you have a bank account, you can’t cash a check at an ATM. ATMs simply allow you to put a check into them but they won't allow you to get a check cashed. You'll need to see a teller or deposit the check then withdraw the cash from our account. If you deposit the check to an empty account, you will not typically be able to withdraw some money for one business day but may have to wait up to 48 hours.
Once you've completely filled out one of the deposit slips, securely close the envelop and place it back into the ATM when directed to complete an ATM deposit. Don't forget to take your ATM card when you've finished making your check deposit! For cash fast you'll need to have funds available, or have money transfer from another account.
How can I cash a check online?
If you don’t have access to a bank and do not have a bank account, your only options are to use PayPal or Ingo. You can download your check to the apps, wait until your funds become available, then cash out using a prepaid debit card, gift card, or spend the money via the app.
Beware of other sites that may ask for your social security number, claim to be able to cash the entire check amount immediately for free, or weird gambling sites that state they also cash checks. Other weird sites claim to offer the best checking accounts after you pay a fee to join. Don't pay anything when you open checking account online. There are free alternative ways to get an account that allow you to cash personal check online.
The Bottom Line
When cashing a check, your easiest and cheapest option is to use a bank. If you do not have a bank account, you may be able to endorse your check to someone else then have them deposit your money and withdraw it. While you can use local grocery stores, gas stations, or Walmarts, you will end up paying fees to access your money.
There are several options to cash a check, but you should always try to get the most out of your money by avoiding fees. Whatever you do be safe with your new found cash – you don't want it to get lost or stolen!
Michael launched Your Money Geek to make personal finance fun. He has worked in personal finance for over 20 years, helping families reduce taxes, increase their income, and save for retirement. Michael is passionate about personal finance, side hustles, and all things geeky.