Although paper checks are not as common as they used to be, they are still an acceptable form of payment.
Government checks and paychecks are two of the most common payments done by checks and money orders.
For bank account holders, cashing a check is as simple as taking a picture of it and sending it to the bank through their mobile app.
But what if you don’t have a bank account? Don’t worry – there’s more than one way to cash a check without it. And that’s what we’ll cover in this article.
How To Cash A Check Without A Bank Account
Here are 7 ways you can cash a check without having a bank account:
- Option 1: Issuing Bank
- Option 2: Retailers and Supermarkets
- Option 3: Financial Services Companies
- Option 4: Payday Lenders
- Option 5: PayPal
- Option 6: Sign it Over
- Option 7: Open a Bank Account
Option 1: Issuing Bank
One of the best ways to cash a check is to go to the issuing bank – the bank backing that cheque.
To find out who the issuer is, all you need to do is look at the check itself and look for the logo and the bank’s name. It’s usually located at the top-right corner of the check, but it may vary from one bank to the next.
Cashing checks at the issuing bank is an excellent option for personal checks (checks issued by a private individual).
Cashing a check at the issuing bank (or any other bank for non-personal checks) is not necessarily free, especially if you’re not a customer of the bank.
Since different banks have different charges, it is always advisable to check beforehand.
Paying a fee once is one thing, but if you’re planning to cash checks regularly, it’s best to consider what the cheapest option for you is.
Option 2: Retailers and Supermarkets
Many retailers offer check-cashing services. These retailers offer a relatively low-fee check cashing service, making them a viable option if you happen to live close to one.
Walmart, Kroger, KMart, and Safeway are some of these check-cashing stores with fees varying between $0.50 to $6.00 depending on retailer, location, type of check, and amount.
- Kroger: Kroger cashes checks for customers who are a member of their loyalty program. You can expect to pay around $3.00 for checks of $2,000 or less and around $7.50 for checks between $2,000 and $5,000. Fees vary by location, so always check the fees applicable in your area.
- Walmart: Walmart outlets offer check-cashing services through MoneyGram (which we will cover in more detail in the next section). Here you can cash personal checks up to $200 with a fee that goes as high as $6 depending on the location. Non-personal check cashing is limited to $7,500 from January to May, dropping to $5,000 in the remaining months. Fees start at $4.00 for checks up to $1,000 and go up for checks for higher amounts.
- KMart: KMart’s check cashing services are offered through MoneyHub. You need to be a member of the Shop Your Way program to make use of this service. You can cash non-personal checks of up to $2,000, including payroll checks, tax refund checks, and government checks. You can also cash two-party personal checks of up to $500. Fees vary by location but never go over $5.00. Some locations also offer free check cashing.
- Safeway: Safeway does not cash personal checks. However, you can cash government checks and cashier’s checks as long as they don’t exceed $1,499. There is a flat fee of $2.25 for every $200, which means you’ll pay $18 to cash a check of $1,499 – the maximum amount allowed.
Many convenience stores and grocery stores such as 7-Eleven and Circle K also allow you to cash checks. You’ll be offered a prepaid debit card with the cash loaded onto the card.
Check-cashing fees tend to vary by location, so always check beforehand. You can easily do that by visiting their website or giving them a call to save yourself the trouble of a fruitless trip or high fees.
Option 3: Financial Services companies
Some financial services companies (like MoneyGram and Western Union) offer check-cashing services, too.
However, they’re not the cheapest options around. It is worth noting that some retailers act as a service point for these companies, so the same rules will apply.
One example is Walmart which uses MoneyGram to service check-cashing customers.
Option 4: Payday lenders
Many payday lenders offer check cashing services. However, these tend to be the more expensive option out of the whole lot, so it should really be your last resort.
Fees can go up to 10% of the total cash value, with fees varying by location and lender. While this option can be convenient if there’s an outlet nearby, be sure to check what fees they charge and any other viable options available to you.
Payday lenders are most known for their payday loans, where people can get a loan that is to be paid back in full on their payday – hence the name. These loans can be quite expensive, with fees going as high as $30 for every $100 borrowed.
Option 5: PayPal
If you have a PayPal account, you can use the Cash a Check feature of their mobile app. It works very similarly to the mobile deposit feature of mobile banking apps.
All you need to do is take a picture of your check through the app and then follow the app’s instructions.
You don’t need to have a bank account or go anywhere – you can do it from the comfort of your own home. The service is free, and the money will be deposited into your PayPal account.
It can take up to 10 days for the funds to hit your account. However, you can speed up the process for a fee.
Option 6: Sign it Over
If you would rather not go through the hassle of cashing the check yourself or cannot for one reason or another, you can always sign the check over (endorse) to someone you trust.
These are known as third-party checks. Doing so allows the person to cash the check on your behalf.
However, you need to know that by signing it over, the person you sign it over becomes the rightful owner of the check, and by extension, the money. So you must know and trust this person – don’t sign over a check to someone you barely know.
When signing over a check, you will need to write, ‘Pay to the order of’ and then the person’s full name.
If you can, go with the person you signed the check over to when they go to cash it, and remember to take some form of ID with you just in case the bank asks you for it.
Option 7: Open an Account
If you don’t have a bank account because you have been denied one in the past, there’s still a way to get a checking account through second-chance banking.
Big banks like Chase and Bank of America and several online banks offer checking accounts with limited features. These accounts are often offered to those with a bad credit score or an unfavorable ChexSystems report. Even so, they allow you to deposit checks straight into your checking account or savings account.
You might have to give up overdrafts and check-writing abilities, but you’ll still be able to cash checks. In most cases, you’ll be able to download their banking app and use the mobile deposit feature to deposit your checks from pretty much anywhere.
These accounts come in all shapes and sizes, so you will need to do a bit of research. There are free checking accounts and others with a monthly maintenance fee which can either be a flat fee or waived if you keep a minimum balance.
Features and perks also vary from one account to another, so you will need to understand what is important to you and then find the account that offers just that.
You can also opt for a prepaid account such as Chase’s Liquid card and Netspend. With this type of account, you will get a prepaid debit card which you need to apply for just like you would for a bank account. You will then be able to reload the card by depositing checks to it.
Keep in mind that requirements vary from one bank to another.
Do You Need To Have Your ID To Cash A Check?
Even if you’re not cashing a check to your bank account, your information will still need to be verified, so you’ll need to bring an ID with you.
The identity check helps prevent fraud by ensuring that you are the person to whom the check is addressed.
Driver’s license and military ID are valid forms of identification, but other documents may also be accepted.
In some cases, you will also need your Social Security Number. It’s best to check what forms of identification are accepted at the place where you intend to cash your check.
How To Cash a Check Without a Bank Account FAQs
What bank will let you cash a check without an account?
Typically this will be the issuing bank (the bank that the check is from). Both customers and non-customers can cash a check this way. However, some restrictions may apply depending on the bank.
You can easily verify who the issuing bank is by looking at the check. You should be able to find this somewhere along the front of the check, with the actual location varying from one bank to another.
You might then want to visit the bank’s website or give them a call to see what restrictions, if any apply.
Can I cash a check at Walmart without a bank account?
Yes, Walmart allows customers to cash different checks through MoneyGram. Some restrictions regarding check amount and type of checks apply, while fees can vary from one location to another.
How can I cash a large check without a bank account?
Most places do cash large checks, but there can be some limitations as to how much. These limits vary depending on where you want to cash your check, so it is always advisable to check beforehand to avoid disappointment.
If your check is too large and you’ve been denied a checking account, you might want to consider a second chance checking account.
These checking accounts don’t require a credit of ChexSystems checks, so you are more than likely to qualify. You can expect to give up some features and perks, but you will still be allied to cash your cheques without any issues.
Can I cash a check with a cash App?
Yes, many apps offer mobile check deposits or something similar. PayPal, for example, has its own Cash a Cheque feature that allows you to snap a picture of your check through the app and submit it for verification.
Second chance bank accounts also come with a mobile banking app that offers similar functionality.
Since there are no guarantees that a cash app will allow you to cash a check, it is best to check if the app you are using offers this functionality. If it doesn’t, consider the other options we’ve listed.
No Bank Account? You Can Still Cash Checks
There are many reasons why someone might not have a bank account. If this is out of choice, the above options should give you enough choices to cash your checks without one.
Remember to look up the fees beforehand and then choose the one that is best for you. Doing this is especially important if you’re going to be cashing checks regularly.
If you do not have a bank account because you have been denied one in the past, you may still be eligible for a bank account through second chance banking.
These accounts do not require any credit score or ChexSystems checks, making it easier to qualify. You’ll have to give up a few things, such as overdrafts and credit cards, but you’ll still get all of the basic features, like check-cashing, direct deposits, and mobile apps.
As far as personal finance goes, a second chance account can help you rebuild your credit history for a relatively small fee. These accounts are entirely free in some cases, making it that much easier to cash your future checks through your very own bank account.