How to cash a check and where

If you received a check recently, you may be wondering where you can cash it. Knowing how to cash a check is essential, especially if you frequently accept payment by check. Although many employers have switched to direct deposit, there are still times when you 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 find out 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 may vary depending on the financial institution or store you choose. Typically, you’ll need an acceptable form of identification to cash a check, such as a driver’s license or government ID. Typically, the only time you don’t need ID is to deposit a check at an ATM or give it to someone else.

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

Give your check and ID to the representative helping you. In a bank or credit union, it’s the teller. If you deposit all or part of the check into your bank account, you must complete 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 place to cash or deposit a check. In addition, most banks offer free check cashing to their customers. If you’re banking 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 generally do not have branches you can visit to cash a check (or offer very limited access to branches). Still, many allow you to deposit checks digitally through mobile banking apps.

How to cash a check at the issuing bank

You can also go to the bank or financial institution that issued the check. Look at the check for the issuing bank’s information. This service may be free or provided for a small fee, depending on the bank. The issuing bank can immediately verify the availability of funds from the account of the source of the check. If fees are charged, they are usually deducted from the money you receive.

How to cash a check online

Many, if not most, banks and credit unions offer a mobile app that lets you deposit checks electronically. Mobile Check Deposits usually involve taking pictures of the front and back of the check using your mobile phone camera. Keep in mind that it’s a good idea to keep a check for 14 days before destroying it to make sure there are no problems with the deposit.

How to cash a check at a retailer

Many retailers allow customers to cash checks at home. Walmart, for example, cashes checks and offers two options for receiving your money: cash or loaded onto a Walmart MoneyCard. It costs $1 to buy a MoneyCard in-store, or you can apply for 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 to a maximum of $5,000: $8 fee
  • Two-part personal checks up to a maximum of $200: $6 or less

Some grocery chains, such as Kroger and its family of stores, also offer check cashing services. At more than 2,000 Kroger-owned stores nationwide, you can cash certain types of checks with a maximum total limit of $5,000. Fees for cashing Kroger checks 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 take pictures of your check. Then submit the images to PayPal for review. If approved, you can choose to add the funds to your PayPal account immediately, for a fee, or add them for free within 10 days.

How to Cash a Check at a Check Cashing Store

payday loan Stores are another way to cash a check, but consider using them as a last resort. They are often the most expensive option. Fees at check cashing stores are usually a percentage of the amount of the check. These types of stores don’t usually 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 cashing your check.

Do you need a bank account to cash a check?

You do not need to have a bank account to cash a check. This is a boon for a large part of the American population without a banking relationship. A 2019 FDIC study found that more than seven million American households do not have a bank account. In addition to cashing checks at the issuing bank, retail stores, and check cashing stores, here are some 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 top-up, or mobile check deposit. Some cards charge a fee for depositing checks. For example, American Express Serve and Bluebird by American Express both offer a mobile check capture option:

  • Receiving the money in your prepaid account in 10 days is free.
  • For the check to be cleared and paid within approximately one hour, there is a 1% fee on payroll and government checks with a pre-printed signature and a 5% fee on all other checks; the minimum fee is $5.

Family member or friend. If you’re out of options, you can always give 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 this is not common practice. More often than not, you will need to deposit the check first and then withdraw the available funds from your account instead.

Each 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 not to cash a check

Although check cashing and payday loan shops offer an alternative to check cashing, they generally charge high fees that can add up quickly. Unless you’re in a bind, it’s best to avoid these types of establishments altogether. Choose to cash your check at your bank or other eligible financial institution.

Beware of scams

Before cashing a check, check that it is legitimate. Your paycheck or government-issued checks are probably safe, but counterfeit checks are a banal bank scam used to steal money from unsuspecting individuals.
Scammers can ask people to cash a check and send them the product before anyone notices that the check is fake. What’s worse is that if you cash the check, you’ll likely be liable for the funds.

Best long-term solution: get a checking account

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

Plus, instead of carrying large sums of cash in your pocket, your money is kept safe at your bank. Your current account deposits are insured by the FDIC (Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation) within legal limits. Depositing checks into a checking account usually means your funds are easily accessible with a debit card.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Where can I cash a personal check?

You can cash a personal check through your bank, the issuing bank, a check cashing service, and some 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 valid for one year from the date of the check, while state and local government checks are generally valid 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 they offer mobile check deposit. Typically, the app will ask you to take photos of the front and back of the check using your mobile device. Always keep your paper check for two weeks to make sure it was deposited correctly and there are no issues.

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