November 23, 2018

How to Cash a Check Without a Bank Account

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Looking to cash a check without a bank account? You aren't alone. More than 5% of American households don't have a bank account. If you're one of the "unbanked" masses, here's how to cash a check.

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Ways to Cash a Check without a Bank Account:

Depending on which method you choose, you may pay fees or a percentage of your check. Keep reading to learn more.

Cashing a Check at the Issuing Bank

Visiting the issuing bank is one of the easiest ways to cash a check. You can find the issuing bank's name right on the check. If the bank has a branch near you, head over to cash the check.

This method typically costs the least of any cash checking method other than your own bank account. Some issuing banks, like Capital One, don't charge a fee. Others charge based on the amount of the check.

When you visit the issuing bank, the teller can look up the availability of funds immediately. If the funds are available, they will then deduct the fee from the cash you receive.

You Should Know
You can usually cash both personal AND payroll checks at the issuing bank.

Cashing a Check at Retail Stores

You can do more than just shop at retail stores. Many places offer check cashing at their service desk. The most popular retail stores offering these services include:

  • Walmart: Walmart can cash checks up to $5,000 with the exception of two-party personal checks. You may only cash two-party personal checks up to $200.

    You can cash pre-printed payroll, government, tax, cashiers, 401(k) distribution, and insurance settlement checks. Walmart charges a flat fee for checks up to $1,000. The fees double for checks over $1,000.

  • Money Services: You can find Money Services in many grocery stores, such as Kroger, Fred Meyer, King Soopers, Ralph's, and Fry's. You can cash payroll, government, income tax refund, insurance settlement, and business checks at Money Services.

    They don't accept personal checks. Money Services charges a fee and can cash checks up to $5,000.

  • Kmart: Kmart "Shop Your Way" members may cash checks at Kmart. They accept government, payroll, and tax refund checks up to $2,000.

    You may also cash two-party checks up to $500. Kmart charges a fee, but it's much lower than many other retail outlets.

  • Food Lion: Food Lion cashes payroll checks and tax refund checks up to $1,000. They also cash rebate checks and traveler's checks (up to $499.99).

    They do not cash personal or two-party checks. You also can't cash handwritten payroll checks.

Watch Out for Fees: Cashing a check anywhere except your own bank will likely cost you something. Before you use the services, ask for specifics about the check cashing fees.

Many retailers and banks charge a flat fee for specific dollar amounts. Other facilities may charge a percentage of the check amount.

Cashing a Check at a Check Cashing Store

If you are desperate, you may consider cashing a check at a check cashing store. This method may seem convenient, but it will likely be the most expensive option.

Check cashing centers charge a fee for the convenience of the availability of the funds. The fee is a percentage of the check amount, usually 1% to 5%.

You get the full amount of the check right away. If you had a bank account, you would likely have to wait at least one business day for the funds to be available.

Essentially, check cashing centers give you a short-term loan by giving you the cash right away. The service fee is their "interest" for the loan.

How to Cash a Check Without an ID: Banks and check cashing facilities have to ask you for government-issued ID in order to cash a check. If you don't have an ID, your best bet is to cash the check online via a mobile app.

If you don't have a reloadable prepaid card or a bank account, you may have to resort to endorsing the check over to a family member or friend to cash it for you.

Cashing a Check Using a Prepaid Account

If you have a prepaid debit card, you may be able to deposit your check into the prepaid debit card account. Many services, such as InGo, allow you to deposit the check right from your mobile phone.

You take a picture of the front and back of the check and wait for approval. If approved, the funds will appear in your prepaid debit card account.

If you aren't comfortable sending the check via mobile app, some prepaid debit card companies have partner locations where you can reload your card.

As an added bonus, if you have recurring checks, such as payroll checks, you can request direct deposit right to your prepaid debit card account.

Use Caution with Debit Cards: They are often heavy on the fees for both deposits and withdrawals. Make sure you read the fine print to see what the service will really cost you BEFORE cashing your check.

Endorse the Check to a Family Member or Friend

If you want to save the few dollars it may cost to cash an occasional check, consider asking a friend or family member for help.

This isn't a favor you want to ask for regularly, but it can help when you are in a bind. In order for someone else to cash your check, you have to endorse it over to them.

You sign the check as you normally would and then write "pay to the order of" and the person's name underneath your signature. It goes without saying you should only do this with someone you trust.

Bottom Line

Cashing a check without a bank account is possible. But it will probably cost you money.

When you have a bank account, check cashing is often a part of the services provided under the account agreement. Without a bank account, you have to think outside of the box and typically pay for the convenience of cashing a check.

More from CreditDonkey:


How Old Do You Have to Be to Get a Credit Card


What You Need to Open a Bank Account


How Much Should I Save?

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