The number of people who do not use a personal bank account may come as a shock. According to a 2017 report by the FDIC, about 8.4 million American households are unbanked, meaning they do not have a personal bank account. Another nearly 24.2 million U.S. households are underbanked – having a checking or savings account, but also using pawn shops and payday loans to help meet the rest of their financial needs. While you can get by without a personal bank account, it is more difficult to cash a third party check someone makes out to you, but it is not impossible.
What You'll Need
Gather two forms of photo identification. The most important part of cashing a third party check without a personal account is proving you are the person whose name is written on the check. To do this, the bank or check cashing place will usually ask for at least two forms of picture identification. This will typically include your driver's license or state ID card in addition to a passport, military ID as well as a credit or debit card with your picture on it.
Trying the Branch
Visit a local branch of the bank that the check is drawn on. The name of the bank is usually printed in the lower left-hand portion of the check. You will have a better chance of cashing the check if you go directly to a branch office; the teller will be able to look up the account and make sure the funds are available before cashing the check.
Endorse the check in front of the teller. Many banks require you to endorse the check in person so they can verify you are the person signing the check. The endorsement area is on the back of the check, and it typically has "Endorse Here" printed on it. Since you do not have a personal account at the bank, you will need to sign your name and put your ID number in the endorsement area. You may also be required to add a fingerprint on the back of the check for further proof of identification.
Go to a check cashing place if the issuing bank does not have a local branch. These facilities offer payday loans and other money services. The check cashing business will either charge a flat rate or a small percentage of the check amount, and they will likely require a fingerprint. You can also go to Walmart to cash your payroll or government-issued check if you have a picture ID and your Social Security number. The fee to cash a check at Walmart starts at $4.00.
Banks are not required to cash checks for people who do not have an account with them. They stand the chance of losing money if the check turns out to be fraudulent, and it is more difficult to recoup their money from non-customers. Talk to a bank representative about opening a free account. If a bank does decide to cash your check despite you not having an account, they can charge you a service fee. Opening a checking account at a bank is generally free, and it can save you the hassle of trying to cash third party checks.
Chad Hagy is based in southern California and he has been a full-time freelance writer since 2006. He has a Bachelor of Arts in English with a specialization in writing from the University of Michigan and his articles have been published on several prominent websites including eHow and others.