You can do two productive things when you receive a check: deposit it or cash it. The ease by which you can cash a check depends on several factors including who wrote the check, the check amount, your ID and your relationship with the check cashing entity. The check cashing process is easy once a place agrees to cash it and you know some helpful FAQs.
Steps to Cash a Check
Before you attempt to cash a check, make sure you have two forms of ID with you. A driver’s license and some other ID are best. Other acceptable documents may include utility bills, bank statements and rent receipts – the check cashing facility will let you know if you call in advance.
The steps to cash a check include:
- Approach the teller or other individual and present the check and your ID. A bank teller may ask to see your debit card.
- Sign the back of the check in the teller’s presence. Some checks have a space marked “ENDORSE HERE” on the back. Do not write anything below the words “DO NOT WRITE, STAMP OR SIGN BELOW THIS LINE,” if present.
- Take your money and count it. Fees will be deducted from the amount.
Where You Can Cash a Check
The best places to cash a check are the financial institutions where you have a checking account (or savings account.) You should be able to cash it at a teller’s window or through an ATM. Your bank will probably waive any fees if you are a customer in good standing.
If you don’t have a bank account, your next best bet is the issuing bank. You can call the nearest local branch and find out its check-cashing policy including fees (either a flat charge or a percentage of the check, typically around two percent), suggests the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
Any bank or credit union should be willing to cash a cashier’s check, assuming you have suitable ID.
Some commercial locations and retailers cash checks and money orders including Walmart, ACE Cash Express and 7-Eleven stores. Walmart states it accepts many types of checks, including two-party personal checks. It charges $4 to $8 per paper check, depending on the amount.
ACE Cash Express explains it accepts a similar variety and also cashes personal checks. It charges a three percent fee and may run a credit check on you before proceeding. Some gas stations, such as Pilot Flying J and TravelCenters of America, may cash certain checks and waive the fee if you fill the tank at the same time.
Some employers will cash your payroll checks. A few may cash non-payroll checks under $1,000 (i.e., below the banking regulation threshold).
Grocery stores – especially the regional and national chains, like Kroger – frequently offer check-cashing services. It helps to be a regular shopper at the store and belong to its loyalty program.
You might find a friend or family member to sign a check that you endorse to them. Write “Pay to the order of [Name]” on the back of the check and sign it. The bank may require both of you to be present to cash the check.
Generally, you should avoid places with high fees. The average cost varies by state and usually ranges from one to 12 percent.
Understand Check Cashing Apps
PayPal, Ingo Money and other companies offer banking apps that accept mobile check deposits. You take a photo of the front and back of the check with the mobile device’s camera and transmit the images using the mobile app. This will deposit the money in your account at a bank, PayPal, credit card or prepaid debit card.
On the plus side, mobile banking is a convenient service that saves time and transportation costs. However, there may be a fee, and you’ll need to withdraw cash afterward. Also, there’s a chance that a hacker will intercept your private data.
Eric Bank is a senior business, finance and real estate writer, freelancing since 2002. He has written thousands of articles about business, finance, insurance, real estate, investing, annuities, taxes, credit repair, accounting and student loans. Eric writes articles, blogs and SEO-friendly website content for dozens of clients worldwide, including get.com, badcredit.org and valuepenguin.com. Eric holds two Master's Degrees -- in Business Administration and in Finance. His website is ericbank.com.