How to Cash a Check Without a Bank Account

There are several ways for a person to cash a check even if they don’t have a personal bank account. About one-third of Americans don’t have a bank account. If they are paid their salary by check or receive a personal check as payment for services or as a gift from a family member or friend, they need to be able to cash it. 

If it’s a personal check, the best option is for the person to take it to the bank that holds the account. Most banks will cash checks that are written by their own customers, but there will be some restrictions. 

Check Holder

The check holder may need to show a government-issued identification and possibly give a thumb print and contact information. These measures are to protect against fraud. There may also be a small fee, but if the check holder opens an account in the bank and deposits the check, the fee will be waived. 

For some people, it may not be possible to take the check to the issuing bank. If this is the case, the person can endorse the check over to a friend or family member whom they trust who has a bank account. 

If the friend or family member cashes the check at their bank, there will be no fee. The person must sign the back of the check and write ‘pay to the order of Friend’s Name’ under their signature. 

It is recommended to do this in the bank just before cashing the check. If it’s endorsed in advance, anyone can cash the check if it’s lost or stolen. Another possibility is to get a pre-paid card or account and deposit the check, and future checks, into the account. 

The bank will not charge a fee for depositing the check, but there are other monthly maintenance fees and hidden charges that can get expensive. 

Western Union

Western Union offers one of the best pre-paid cards. The fees are low or non-existent, and the account holder can cash paychecks, personal checks and government checks. If the card holder uses the card at retail stores that give cash back, they can offset their fees.

If the check is a government check, MoneyGram or payroll check, it can be cashed at Walmart. The store offers check-cashing services for its customers and charges a nominal fee. The check-cashing limit is $5,000. However, it doesn’t cash personal checks. Another retailer that will cash checks is a 7-Eleven store that has a Vcom kiosk. 

It’s not possible to cash a check at a U.S. Post Office. However, it is possible to buy a money order with the check and cash the money order at a bank. The money order will need to be for the exact amount of the check. The person buying the money order will need to show a government-issue photo ID.

Check Cashing Shop

Getting the check cashed at a check cashing shop is considered the last resort. The main problem with shops that will cash any check is the fee. Check-cashing stores usually base the fee on a percentage of the size of the check, the type of check and any state regulations about flat fees. It may not cash an out-of-state check because there is a much higher chance the check will be fraudulent. 

The store may also limit the size of the check it will cash. If a check-holder has used the store’s services many times, it will usually cash larger checks for people it knows. 

It can be expensive to cash checks without a bank account because of fees that will add up month after month. However, with a little effort, it’s possible to cash a check and keep the fees to a minimum. 

High Fees

The reason for the high fees is to protect the check-cashing store from fraudulent checks. If a person cashes a bad check, even unknowingly, he or she will be responsible for refunding the money they received. If it’s a personal check, the person must make sure he or she got the check from someone they trust. 

For example, if some furniture is sold online, and the buyer wants to pay by check, it’s recommended to ask for cash. If they have no choice, the seller should get the name of the issuing bank, contact information of the buyer and the correct name and address of the buyer. 

Most payroll and government checks have an expiry date, and banks are not required to cash personal checks that are more than six months old. This is why it’s recommended to cash a check as soon as possible. 

People who are paid their salary with a check can save a lot by opening a bank account. Cashing checks will be free, and the money in the account will be insured and earn interest.