How to Cash Government Checks

  Reviewed by: Alicia Bodine, Certified Ramsey Solutions Master Financial Coach      Updated October 20, 2018
  Written by: Lee Tea
How to Cash Government Checks

Whether you have a welfare, tax refund, Social Security or other type of government check, cashing it is simple. Even if you do not have a bank account, there are other options, such as a check-cashing facility or grocery store. For those places, you'll need a government-issued ID card or state driver's license that verifies your identity.

Try Your Bank

If you have an account at a local bank, you can always cash your check there, unless your account is in poor standing. If you don't have an account, apply to open one. Even without an account, you may still be able to cash certain types of government checks at a local bank. Some checks, such as tax refund checks, are issued directly by the U.S. Treasury, and most banks will cash them even if you aren't an account holder. However, you may be charged a nominal fee because you aren't a customer.

Utilize Grocery Store Services

Many large grocery stores, convenience stores and discount store chains such as Giant Eagle, Walmart, Giant, Publix, Circle K, 7-Eleven, Safeway and Dominick's often cash government checks for a small fee. For instance, Walmart will cash checks up to $7,500 during the months of January through April. This is to allow customers to cash their tax refund checks. Otherwise, Walmart's check-cashing limit is $5,000. The fee is $4.00 to cash checks up to, and including, $1,000, and checks up to $5,000 cost $8.00. As with most places that cash checks, you will need at least one form of government-issued identification in order to cash it.

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Visit Check-Cashing Establishments

If you don't have a bank account, or do not live near a grocery or convenience store that cashes checks, you probably have a check-cashing facility that you can use. Some popular chains include Ace Cash Express, Money Mart, Check Into Cash and Any Kind Checks Cashed. These facilities can honor government checks as long as you have an ID. Fees vary, usually between 2 and 10 percent of the check's total. Because these establishments typically charge higher fees than a bank, they are generally reserved as a last resort, or used by those whom are under-banked.

Endorse the Check to Someone Else

In the event you can't cash your check by other methods, you may be able to have a friend or family member you trust deposit the check into their bank account. This is known as a special endorsement. In order to do this, you would first need to endorse the check to the person you want to deposit it. On the back of a check is a line where you endorse it for deposit. Instead of simply signing it yourself, on this line you should write, "Pay to the order of: (the name of the party you’re paying) and your signature underneath. When your friend goes to deposit the check, he will endorse beneath your signature. Take note, not all financial institutions accept special endorsed checks, so review the bank's policies or contact an agent for further assistance.

About the Author

Leeann Teagno has been writing professionally since 2006. An English major, she continues to study information systems management at American Public University. Teagno is an organic gardener, cook and technology buff with past employment in mobile communications. She also volunteers at an animal shelter and operates a home bakery.

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