How To Cash A Personal Check Without A Bank Account - The Full Guide
Surprisingly there are more than 7 million households in the US that don't have a bank account. There may be many reasons for this, but it can cause problems if you need to cash a check. We look at how to cash a personal check without a bank account.
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Can You Cash A Personal Check Without A Bank Account?
Although it is much easier to cash a personal check with a bank account it is still possible to cash one if you don’t have a bank account.
It will typically involve some fees, as there is some risk to those cashing the check that there will be insufficient funds in the issuer's bank account to cover the check amount.
You will need to provide some form of identification in most instances, although it is possible to cash a check in some circumstances without ID.
Some locations will only cash a pre-printed check and will not cash a handwritten personal check.
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Where Can You Cash A Personal Check?
Luckily for those who do not have a bank account it is possible to cash a personal check in several different locations and in a variety of ways. You can take the check to the issuing bank, Walmart, or any of the check cashing stores.
There are other options such as using a prepaid debit card or asking a family member or trusted friend to cash the check through their account.
All of these options will either entail fees, require ID and will be a bit of an inconvenience for you and anyone who is helping you out. But for those who are ‘unbanked’ these options are the only ones available.
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If you have no bank account you can go to the bank that issued the check to cash it. The issuing bank is the one whose name is pre-printed on the check.
Banks are not required to cash checks for those who are not their customers but can cash a check which has been issued by one of their account holders. Of course, there needs to be sufficient funds available in the issuer’s account to cover the amount of the check.
The payee, the person to whom the check is made out, will need to show government issued identification at the bank in order to cash the check. This should be a driver’s license or passport.
The bank will typically charge for cashing the check, this will either be a percentage of the check amount or a flat fee. Checks that are more than six months old may be refused.
There are several retailers that offer check cashing services. The most well known is Walmart but local grocery stores such as a 7-Eleven may also offer this service. Walmart will not cash handwritten checks, however.
The fees charged to cash a check at Walmart are $4 for a check up to $1,000 and $8 for checks of more than $1,000. A two-party check which has two named payees is cashed for a maximum fee of $6. They also cash payroll, cashier’s and insurance settlement checks.
Other retailers such as Publix or Kroger also offer check cashing services charging fees of between $3-$6.
You will need to take photo ID with you when cashing a check at a retailer.
Check Cashing Store
If you cannot get to a branch of the issuing bank or a retailer such as Walmart you may have to use a check cashing store. Be advised that this is probably the most expensive way of cashing a personal check so only use these stores if you have no other choice.
You may be asked to become a ‘member’ or to buy check cashing ID by these stores before they will cash your check. As well as membership fees you may be charged a first time use fee.
Some of the check cashing stores charge percentages between 5%-20% of the amount of the check being cashed. Although the most common fee is around the lower amount of 5%. Others will also charge a flat fee on top of that percentage.
Other Ways To Cash A Personal Check
There are two other options for cashing a personal check without a bank account. You can sign up for a prepaid debit card or ask someone close to you to cash the check through their own account.
Prepaid Debit Cards
The first option is to use a prepaid debit card. These are similar to a checking account debit card but are pre-loaded with funds.
Depending on the type of prepaid debit card you can either set up direct deposit so that the check is loaded onto the card. Alternatively, some have apps that allow you to take a photo of the check and load it onto your card.
Other prepaid debit cards will let you deposit the check via an ATM and the funds are then added to the card. However, there are fees attached to these cards which can be steep. Charges are made for ATM withdrawals, monthly fees and reloading fees.
Ask A Friend
If you have none of the above options then you may be able to ask a family member or trusted friend to cash a personal check through their bank account. For this you will need to sign the check over to that person.
It will probably be necessary for both of you to go to the bank together and take government issued identification with you. Your friend or family member may be required to pay a check cashing fee, but this can depend on their bank.
All of the above options for cashing a personal check without a bank account carry both risk and cost. If it is possible you should try to open a checking account.
There are even second chance checking accounts for those with previous bad credit history.
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