If you don’t have a bank account, you may wonder ‘where can I cash a personal check?’ It becomes apparent rather quickly how important a bank account is for everyone.
In today’s digital age, though, not everyone has a bank account, and receiving personal checks doesn’t happen nearly as often as it used to. But, if you receive one, it’s important to know where to cash a personal check without a bank account.
What Are Personal Checks?
Personal checks are checks that come with your bank account. They may accompany a debit/credit card too. Personal checks have your bank’s routing number (your bank’s address) and your account number on the bottom so the cashing bank knows how to get the cash.
Personal checks have the date, the person or company’s name your writing the check to, the payment amount in both number and written format, and your signature. Once you sign a personal check, the recipient can cash it, but make sure only the recipient gets his/her hands on the check because once it’s signed thieves can try to cash it too.
Where Can You Use Personal Checks?
You can use personal checks for just about any payment, but some stores/companies may not accept them, so always ask.
Common places to use personal checks include:
- Paying family and friends
- Paying bills, such as the mortgage, rent, utilities, credit card payments, or insurance payments
- Paying for groceries or household items at large stores, like Target or Walmart
- Paying your medical bill
Personal checks aren’t as popular as they used to be, but they still circulate, so having a place to cash personal checks is important.
Where Can I Cash a Personal Check? 12 Best Places
There are many places to cash a personal check, but before you do, know that they’ll ask for a photo ID. When you cash a personal check, the entity cashing the check takes a risk because there’s no guarantee the check won’t bounce. If it does, they’ll come to you for the money, which is why they ask for your ID to be able to contact you.
Most places charge a fee to cash a personal check, so make sure you read the fine print and know the total costs before choosing where you should cash a personal check.
1. The Issuing Bank
Your safest bet is always to cash the check with the issuing bank. This is the bank on the check, you’ll see it on the left side of the check.
The issuing bank has the check writer’s bank account and can verify there are enough funds for the check, and even that the check is valid. This prevents the worry that the company cashing the check will come back to you for the money – the issuing bank won’t cash the check if there isn’t enough money to cover it.
If there isn’t enough money in the account to cover the check, the issuing bank won’t cash the check. While that seems frustrating, it’s better than finding out after you cashed the check that you owe the money back because it bounced.
2. Your Bank
If you have a bank account, you can usually at least deposit a check into the account and later withdraw the cash. But if your bank account balance is high enough, you may be able to cash the check on the spot.
If you don’t have enough to cover the amount of the check, though, you’ll have to wait one or two business days. Each bank has a different waiting period to make sure the check clears before you can access the cash. You’ll see the check amount in your pending balance, but it won’t become available until the bank ensures the check cleared.
3. Grocery Stores
Most grocery stores cash checks without a bank account, but there could be some exceptions. For example, major chains like Albertson’s, Winn Dixie, Publix, and Kroger allow their stores to cash checks, but they aren’t obligated to do so. If the store manager doesn’t want the risk, the store doesn’t have to cash them.
Ask at the customer service counter if they cash checks and what limits they have. For example, they may only cash checks up to a certain limit, or only cash a certain number of checks per day or week. Some also don’t cash handwritten personal checks.
Walmart won’t cash single personal checks, but if you have a two-party personal check, they will cash it up to $200, for a fee of up to $6. It’s not allowed in every state, so check the fine print before heading to Walmart to cash your check.
You won’t find as many Kmart locations around as you used to as their parent company has been in financial trouble for years, but if you have one near you, they may cash a two-party personal check. They won’t cash single-party personal checks, though, and even two-party checks are limited to $500.
Like most retailers, the rules, limits, and whether they’ll cash a check varies by location so it’s always good to call first.
You can’t walk into your local 7-Eleven and cash a check, which is a bummer since there seems to be one on every corner. However, there is a way to use 7-Eleven for cashing a check, but it takes a few steps.
First, you must buy a reloadable Transact card. This is a reloadable Visa debit card. Next, download the Transact app. Now, just like you could do at a bank, you can deposit your personal checks via mobile deposit. The money goes on your Transact card, which you can use to withdraw cash at any 7-Eleven. Watch the fees in this option, though, because you may pay fees to deposit the check and then again to withdraw your cash at the ATM.
7. Ace Cash Express
If you have an Ace Cash Express near you, it’s easy to cash a personal check without a bank account. They have almost 1,000 locations, so chances are there may be one near you. Like most check cashing stores, the fees vary by location, so call before you go.
8. Check Into Cash
Check Into Cash has over 1,000 locations throughout the country. They cash almost any type of check including handwritten personal checks. Each location sets its own limits and fees. As with any check-cashing store, make sure you do your reviews. Most Check Into Cash stores are franchised, but some may be individually owned and not have the same standards as the franchised businesses.
9. Ingo Money App
If you’d rather cash your check from home, the Ingo Money App makes it easy to cash your check from your phone. The fees are much higher than going to a physical store, so make sure you know the cost which is usually 1% – 5% of the check amount before moving forward. Like anything in life, you pay for convenience.
10. PL$ Check Cashing
PL$ Check Cashing has locations in 12 states and cashes personal checks. They advertise check cashing fees of 1% + $1, but if you read the fine print, it applies to government payroll checks and stimulus checks. While they do cash personal checks, they charge much more.
11. Money Mart
If you live in Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, or Louisiana, you can cash your check at a local Money Mart. Money Mart cashes personal checks, but not all locations do. Call before you go to find out the fees and if the location near you will cash a personal check.
Money Mart also offers mobile cash checking. Anyone can use it by downloading the free app. Once you take a picture of the check, Money Mart approves it (if it’s legit) and tells you the fees. You can back out if the fees are too high or you can cash the check and have the money deposited to your debit card.
12. Banks That Will Cash Personal Checks
You don’t always need an account at a bank to cash a check. Like the check-cashing stores or retail operations mentioned above, most banks charge a fee to cash a check. Here are some of the top banks that will cash a check with no account.
- Bank of America – You must visit a Full-Service Financial Center to cash a personal check without a bank account. B of A charges $8 for checks over $50.
- Chase – Chase cashes personal checks for non-customers for $8.
- Citibank – All checks written from a Citibank account can be cashed at Citibank for free. Any non-Citibank check is up to each bank’s discretion. Most checks under $5,000 are cashed for free.
- Fifth Third Bank – Non-customers can cash a check at Fifth Third Bank for a 1% fee, but no greater than $4.
- KeyBank – Non-customers may cash a check at KeyBank for a hefty fee of $7.
- SunTrust Bank – SunTrust cashes checks for non-bank customers for 1% – 3% of the check amount or a flat $7 fee for SunTrust checks.
Alternatives to Cash a Personal Check
Check cashing fees can get high, especially if you have a large check. To save money, here are a few alternatives to cash a personal check.
1. Endorse the Check to a Friend
If you have a friend or family member with a checking account, ask if you can endorse the check to them. They are then able to endorse the check and cash it at their bank, giving you the cash.
2. Use a Prepaid Debit Card
It’s not without its fees, but most prepaid debit cards offer mobile deposit. You can deposit your checks right onto your debit card, using the funds like you would from a bank account. NetSpend and GreenDot are good examples.
If you have a PayPal account, you may be able to cash your check and deposit it into your PayPal Cash Plus account. PayPal gives you two options. You can pay a fee at 1% of the check amount and have the money within minutes or wait 10 days and not pay a fee.
4. Your Employer
Some employers will cash a check for you. Like check cashing facilities, they will likely have a limit and no employer can cash a non-payroll check for more than $1,000.
How to Cash a Check
Knowing how to cash a check is important, even if you don’t have a bank account. You’ll need a state-issued ID to cash a check, plus your preferred method to cash it (bank, retailer, check cashing store, or mobile app).
- Decide where you’ll cash the check. If you have a bank account, go there first. It should be free. If you don’t have a bank account determine if the issuing bank is in your area. They’ll also cash the check for free. If not, choose from the list above to find the cheapest and closest place to cash your check.
- Endorse the back of the check. Don’t do this until you’re ready to cash the check. If you do it too soon and misplace it, someone may be able to cash it. If you can, wait until you are there to cash the check.
- Show your ID. You must prove you are who you say you are, with a government-issued ID, such as a driver’s license or State ID.
- Provide the check and get your cash. Once the teller verifies your ID and goes over the fees with you, they’ll give you the cash difference between the check amount and the fee.
How to Cash a Check Without a Bank Account
If you don’t have a bank account, you must stick to cashing your checks at the issuing bank or one of the check-cashing stores mentioned above. Most places will charge a fee, with the exception of the issuing bank.
Where Can I Cash a Personal Check FAQ
How Long Are Checks Good For?
Most checks are good for 6 months unless stated otherwise. For example, some business checks have an expiration printed on the check. It may say ‘void after 90 days.’ It’s an unwritten rule that checks are good for 6 months. Most banks will still cash a check after the 90-day mark if it’s written on the check. Businesses do that to encourage people to cash the checks fast so their checks aren’t outstanding.
How Long is a Personal Check Good For?
Most personal checks are good for 6 months or 180 days. They won’t have an expiration date printed on them, it’s just the general rule.
How Long Do You Have to Cash a Check?
You typically have six months to cash a check. The faster you cash it, though, the better. It’s easier on the business or person who wrote the check, plus you’ll have more time to earn interest on the money or use it rather than letting it sit.
How Can I Cash a Personal Check Immediately?
The best way to cash a personal check immediately is to go to the issuing bank. Because they can verify the funds instantly, you can get the cash in hand. If you deposit the check in your bank account, you can only withdraw the funds that you can cover with your bank account.
For example, if you want to cash a $500 check, but you only have $100 in your bank account, your bank won’t give you the full $500. It’s too risky for them because they don’t know if the check will cash or bounce. You must have enough money in your account to cover the check should it not clear.
Where Can I Cash My Stimulus Check?
If you have a bank account, cash your stimulus check at your bank. You won’t have to pay anything and could get the cash up front since it’s a government check – it’s a trusted check.
If you don’t have a bank account, you have several other options to cash a stimulus check including:
- Many banks will cash stimulus checks for non-customers. Some charge a fee and others don’t, call around to see which banks around you won’t charge you.
- Large retailers that cash checks will cash your stimulus check, but not for free. Walmart, Kroger, Albertson’s, and other large retailers will cash your stimulus check for you.
- Open a PayPal account and cash your stimulus check. PayPal doesn’t charge a fee for instant access to your stimulus check. You deposit the check via the PayPal mobile app and PayPal will instantly credit your PayPal Cash Plus account with the funds.
- Go to a check-cashing store. Like Walmart and other retailers, check cashing stores will cash your stimulus check, but for a fee. If you received a large stimulus check, it could cost you a bit to cash the check.
Does Walmart Cash Checks?
Walmart offers check-cashing services for a fee. They only cash-preprinted checks or two-party personal checks. Checks up to $1,000 cost $4 to cash and checks over $1,000 cost $8 to cash. They’ll cash checks up to $5,000.
Does Walmart Cash Stimulus Checks?
Walmart will cash your stimulus check, but for the same fee as mentioned above. If you received $1,000 or less, it will cost you $4, and if you received more than $1,000, it will cost you $8 to cash your stimulus check at Walmart.
Does Walmart Cash Personal Checks?
Walmart will only cash two-party personal checks. For example, a check written to John Smith or Jane Smith they will cash, but they won’t cash a check written just to John Smith.
Where Can I Cash a Personal Check For Free?
Your best bet to cash a personal check for free is the issuing bank or your own bank, if you have one. If not, you’ll likely pay a fee to cash a check, so make sure you look around at the fees before cashing it at the first place you find.
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Samantha uses her BS in Finance and MBA to help others control their finances through budgeting, saving, investing, side hustles, and travel hacking. Due to following the FIRE Movement’s principles, she was able to quit her high-stress job in the financial services industry in July 2019 to pursue her side hustles. She is now a full-time entrepreneur, freelancing coach, and blogger.