How to Cash a Check Without a Bank Account

cashing a check
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Access to banking and financial services usually requires owning a bank account, but Forbes estimates there are at least 17 billion unbanked persons across the globe.

Although banking has evolved, checks remain a popular means of payment. However, if you don’t have a bank, it can be challenging to find a way to cash those little slips of paper. 

Here’s how to cash a check without a bank account:

  1. Issuer's bank.
  2. Banks that offer cash-checking services.
  3. Cash it at a retail stores.
  4. Cash your check via apps.
  5. Independent check-cashing service.
  6. Payday lender.
  7. Gas station travel center.
  8. Sign your check to a third party who owns a bank account.

So, let’s look at these check-cashing methods and talk about what each one entails. I’ll let you know if there are fees involved and walk you through the steps to help you get your money in no time.

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1. Check Issuer’s Bank

All checks come pre-printed with the name and logo of the issuing bank. Some banks will allow you to cash a check as long as a customer issued it, even if you're a non-account holder. 

So, if you have a check, visit any branch of the check issuer's bank to withdraw your funds.  However, as I mentioned earlier, you'll pay a fee, which varies from bank to bank.

You'll also need a valid government-issued ID (passport or driver's license) which should correspond with the beneficiary named on the check. 

Banks will not cash a check if the beneficiary's name is at variance with the name on the ID. However, some banks may request your social security number if you don’t have an ID card.

2. Banks That Offer Cash-Checking Services

Some banks offer cash-checking services to non-account holders whether or not they issue the check. At Regions, for instance, you can cash just about any check (payroll, government, insurance, two-party, etc.) for 1-4% of the check amount.

The process is usually fast and straightforward. You'll go through an enrollment process to withdraw your funds, including an ID verification. 

If this method appeals to you, you can research banks that offer cash-checking services close to you and compare their fees.

3. Cash Your Check at Retail Stores

Retail stores, like Kmart and Walmart, also offer cash-checking services. With their expansive reach, you can easily access them in most parts of the country.

Using retail stores provides some advantages over banks.  First, they offer relatively low fees compared to banks. You can cash up to $1000 for a flat fee of $3 at Walmart or $1 at Kmart.

Second, you can cash your check at retail stores beyond work hours, unlike banks with closing times.  Retail stores, however, come with some limitations:

  • You can cash any check at Walmart, except two-party personal checks, for up to $5000. The limit for two-party personal checks is $200. 
  • To cash your check at Kmart, you must be a member of Kmart's Shop Your Way rewards program.

Another excellent feature of choosing a store like Walmart is that you can use prepaid debit cards to access your funds. That way, you’ll have all the benefits of having a bank account without committing to a bank. 

4. Cash Your Check Using Apps

Apps like PayPal, IngoMoney, NetSpend, and Brink offer an innovative and convenient way to cash your check. Cashing your check is as simple as uploading front and rear shots of the check on any of these apps

The funds will enter your account after a few business days.  Of course, this method also involves fees. PayPal charges %1 for government checks and a standard $5 for other checks. 

For IngoMoney, you'll part with $5 for $100 or less and 5% for checks above $100. You'll pay $5 for $250 or less for government and payroll checks and 2% for more than $250.

You can use these funds to shop or pay bills online. You can also shop at a local store or withdraw from an ATM using a prepaid card. Maintenance fees also apply for these prepaid cards.

Here's a comprehensive list of prepaid debit cards with mobile check deposits.

5. Independent Cash-Checking Services

Apart from banks and retail stores, some businesses specialize in cashing checks for non-bank account holders. You can cash just about any check at these outlets.

However, there are many downsides to using this medium to cash your check. First, these outlets charge exorbitant fees that range from 1-12% of the check amount.

Second, some outlets require a membership, including a first-time fee to use their service. These factors make check cashing at independent outlets an unattractive option.

6. Payday Lender

You can also cash your check at a payday lender such as Payday Express for some fee. Payday lenders are businesses that provide short-term loans for salary earners, usually at a higher interest rate.

Some payday lenders also offer check-cashing services for different check types.  Like independent cashing outlets, payday lenders may also charge high fees, either a percentage or a standard price.

However, they can come in handy during weekends when bank offices are closed. 

7. Gas Station Travel Center

Although not a popular option, gas center travel, such as TravelCenters of America, also offer check-cashing services. They're not as widespread as retail stores or independent outlets, but you never know when they can come in handy.

Gas station check casing usually comes with some fees or interest rates, so be sure to read over the terms if you’re concerned about losing money when you cash your check. 

8. Sign Your Check to a Third Party Who Owns a Bank Account

Your last option would be to sign the check to a third party who owns a bank account. The person should be a friend or relative you trust because you lose ownership of the check when you sign it over to that person.

The person can then withdraw the money on your behalf and hand it over to you.

Final Thoughts

Many people don't have bank accounts for various reasons. Accessing financial services is still possible for these people, although it may be costly.

The options above detail how to cash a check without owning a bank account. Depending on location, preferences, or circumstances, one or more alternatives should come in handy.

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