According to the FDIC, 5.4% of households in the US don’t have a bank account, that’s over 7 million households!
Compounding the issue is that if you do not have a bank account, you cannot receive a bank transfer, so certain payments need to be done by check.
At the same time, cashing paper checks without a bank account is not always easy.
Check cashing services are offered by financial institutions and other companies, including certain retail stores and apps.
The wide choice on offer gives everyone a chance to cash checks, regardless of whether you have a bank account or not.
9 Best Places Where You Can Cash a Check
Here are 9 options where you can cash a check today even without a bank account:
- Your Bank or Credit Union
- The Issuing Bank
- Your Employer
- PayDay Loan Companies
- Gas Stations
- Grocery Stores
- Friends and Family
- Money Apps
1. Your Bank or Credit Union
If you have a bank account, your bank should be your first port of call. In most cases, you don’t even need to visit a branch since most banks and credit unions allow customers to deposit checks from practically anywhere.
To do this, you’ll need to download and install your bank’s mobile banking app, which as an account holder, you should be able to access for free. Some banks require prior registration before you can log in to the app, but the initial effort is well worth any hassle that it might cause.
Most banking apps include a mobile check deposit feature for taking a picture of the check using your phone’s camera and uploading it straight to the app. The bank can then access the image – and once all verification is complete, deposit the funds straight into your checking account. Neat? It sure is.
Alternatively, you can also visit your branch. In this case, giving the local bank branch a call beforehand is well advised. Make sure you ask what the policy is for cashing a check physically at the branch. You should also check what sort of documentation you’ll need to take with you to ensure everything goes as smoothly as possible.
You’ll typically be able to withdraw the cash or deposit it straight into your checking or savings account, depending on your preference and the total check amount.
2. The Issuing Bank
If you do not have a bank account or cannot cash the check at your bank for one reason or another, the issuing bank might very well be the answer to your problems.
The issuing bank is the bank that holds the account from which the check is payable. You can easily verify this by looking at the physical check. Look for the bank’s logo or the memo line, which you’ll find in the bottom part of the check.
Cashing a check at the issuing bank will require a trip to their branch since you can’t use an app in this scenario. Make sure you first give the bank a call and ask about their check-cashing policy before making the trip.
Non-customers might be charged a check cashing fee, but this can change from one bank to the next. In most cases, the fee will be either a flat fee per check or a percentage of the amount you’re looking to cash. You can either look for this information on the website or ask the representative answering your call when calling to check about their check-cashing policy.
You will need to take some form of valid photo ID with you, such as your driver’s license. Some banks will also call the person who issued you the check before cashing it. Some banks will also offer you the options to choose between cash and a prepaid debit card, with the latter option allowing you to withdraw cash as you need it.
Remember to check if there are any withdrawal fees if opting for the debit card and which ATM network will allow you to withdraw money without incurring any fees.
3. Your Employer
Some employers offer their employees check-cashing benefits, although not all do. Some strict rules and regulations are surrounding this, which is why not all employers offer it.
Either way, if they do offer this benefit, you might be able to cash payroll checks, as well as personal checks up to $1,000 – depending on the employer’s policy. Exceeding this check amount limit would technically make your employer an official check cashier, with a whole new set of rules coming into force.
The good news here is that there is no daily limit on the dollar amount of payroll checks cashed in one day.
Fun fact about Walmart – there’s a 90% chance that you live within a 15-mile radius of one of Walmart’s 5,000 locations across the United States. With Walmart being as ubiquitous as it is, chances are you live near one or at the very least pass close to one on your commute.
The good news is that Walmart is one of the most viable and cost-effective options for cashing checks. However, there are a few restrictions that you need to be aware of since you cannot cash any checks.
For non-personal checks, there is a $5,000 limit which goes up to $7,500 between January and April. They also have a $4 flat fee for checks under $1,000, while anything above that will set you back $8.00.
Personal checks are a recent addition to Walmart’s check-cashing services, with more restrictive limits in place at this time. There is a maximum cash value of $200 when cashing here and a flat fee of $6.00.
You can opt to have the money loaded into a Walmart MoneyCard or cash with the reload fee waived when choosing the former option. Keep in mind that there may be restrictions in place depending on the state you live in, and as such, this service may not be available everywhere.
Check Walmart’s website or give them a call before making the trip to avoid disappointment.
5. Payday Loan Companies
Many payday loan companies, such as Ace Express, offer customers check cashing services. While they tend to be on the higher side as far as fees are concerned, they also tend to be less restrictive and cash personal checks.
One other thing that you need to be aware of is that some stores run a credit check on you before cashing your check. While checking your credit score might seem like a very unnecessary practice, it is carried out to prevent fraud and manage risk. It’s to help these companies to trace someone who cashes a fraudulent check.
The good news here is that payday loan companies typically aren’t picky about which type of checks they cash, which means they’ll cash about any valid check.
Of course, you will need to present some form of photo ID, so make sure you take this with you when going to a payday loan location to cash a check.
Payday loan companies have different procedures and processes, so it’s always worth giving them a call or visiting their website before physically going there. Make sure you check which type of checks they cash, what the fees are, and which forms of identification are accepted.
You might also want to check whether the company will run a credit check on you and, if so, what kind of credit check that is.
6. Gas Stations
Gas stations used to be one of the best options for those looking to cash a check without a bank account. As you stop for a gas refill, you’d be easily able to cash your check and tick off two items from your to-do list in the blink of an eye.
However, fraudulent activity has dramatically reduced the availability of this service. There was very little a gas station could do once it found itself holding a check it couldn’t cash.
Even so, there are still a few chains that offer this service, including 7-Eleven. The company has been around since 1927 but only changed its name to 7-Eleven in 1927 to reflect the chain’s opening hours.
Either way, you’ll be able to find a Vcom point at many of its locations. The kiosk allows customers to quickly carry out several financial activities, including paying bills and cashing checks. Alternatively, you can opt to use the 7-Eleven’s app – Transact by 7-Eleven.
The app offers members the same functionality afforded to those who have a mobile banking app as it allows you to cash checks using your phone. It’ll take about two days for the funds to clear. Once they clear, they will be automatically loaded into the accompanying 7-Eleven reloadable card.
The card also gives you additional benefits, like a direct deposit to receive your paycheck and any government benefits that you might be entitled to get.
7. Grocery Stores
If it’s a pure convenience that you’re looking for, grocery stores are among the best options. You probably already visit grocery stores regularly, which means no extra trips.
Not all grocery stores cash checks, so you might want to check online through their website first. Generally speaking, there will be some limitations, especially when it comes to personal checks since these tend to have higher rates of fraud.
Grocery stores that offer check-cashing facilities include:
Do keep in mind that many retailers tend to change their policies over time, so checking their website is going to be your best bet.
Also, take the time to check what types of checks are accepted and any limits on the dollar value.
As mentioned earlier, personal checks are not always cashed, but government checks, tax refund checks, payroll checks, and money orders, and cashier’s checks, are generally accepted.
8. Friends and Family
Trusted family and friends can also be a viable option for cashing a check, especially if they have a bank account.
The important thing to note here is the use of the word trusted. It’s essential that you trust the person as the only way someone else can cash a check for you is for you to sign it over. Signing it over technically makes them the rightful owner of the check (and the money).
Signing over a check is easy and won’t take but a minute of your time. All you need to do here is turn the check over and write “Pay to the order to” (excluding inverted commas) followed by the person’s name and then sign underneath.
In some cases, you will need to be physically present when the person you signed the check over to goes to cash it. While this may sound like a nuisance, the bank might require this to ensure you are not being coerced or threatened to sign over the check.
In this case, make sure you take some form of photo ID with you (ideally more than one) and be prepared to fill out a form where you essentially give your consent.
9. Money Apps
While money apps are a relatively recent addition, they have become ubiquitous, especially with those who transact online.
As these money apps look to take a bigger share of the market, they started to offer several different ancillary money services, including the ability to cash checks.
PayPal is perhaps the most known money app, but it’s not the only one. Others such as Green Dot, Ingo Money, and Netspend also allow its users to cash checks.
Of course, there are no branches or locations to visit – everything is done online. The procedure works very similarly to the mobile check deposit feature that accompanies most mobile banking apps.
All you need to do is take a picture of the check using your phone and upload it to the mobile app. Each app will follow a slightly different procedure, so be sure to check the website of the app you use to familiarize yourself with the process.
Once the check is verified, the money will be deposited straight into your PayPal account or the account of the app you’re using.
What stores will cash my check?
Several check-cashing stores will cash your check, including convenience stores, gas station stores, as well as big chain stores.
Do keep in mind that there are limits and restrictions, especially on personal checks and two-party checks.
Take the time to visit the website of the cash-checking store or give them a call to understand what fees they charge and which kinds of checks they cash.
Can I cash a check without a bank account?
Yes – you can easily cash checks without a bank account. Here you have several options that fall under two categories.
The first category is financial services companies, which include the issuing bank, apps like PayPal, and payday loan companies.
Then, there are non-financial companies like grocery stores, gas stations, your employer, and even family and friends.
If you’re going to be cashing checks regularly, you might want to look into opening a bank account. With a bank account, it’s so much easier to deposit a check.
If you have been denied an account in the past, you might want to look into second chance checking accounts such as those offered by Bank of America and others.
Sure, you might not qualify for a credit card just yet, but it’ll allow you to build a better credit history and ultimately improve your personal finances.
Can I cash a check at Walmart?
Yes, you can cash a check at Walmart for a small fee. You need to take some form of ID with you, such as your SSN (Social Security Number) and your driver’s license.
You can also apply for your own Walmart MoneyCard and have the cashed check loaded directly onto it, with available card issuers being Visa and Mastercard.
Can you go anywhere to cash a check?
While you might not necessarily be able to go anywhere to cash a check, you will likely have a few different options available to you.
If you’re looking for low fees, the issuing bank and Walmart are probably your best bet.
If you’re looking for convenience, your bank (provided you have an account), money apps, and participating stores can help you cash checks quite easily.
Where Should You Get Your Check Cashed?
While checks do not enjoy the widespread usage they once did, they still have a place in our daily financial lives and are used quite often as a form of payment.
Those who have a bank account can cash checks by simply snapping a picture of it, while those who do not have an account will typically have to do more work.
The good news is that there is no shortage of options – but do be careful since fees can eat away at your money.
What is most convenient is not always the best option (it rarely is). Unless you’re a bank, there is substantial risk involved in cashing checks.
That’s why companies like MoneyGram don’t cash checks and why the ones that do cash checks have certain limitations in place.