We live in an increasingly digital world. Internet banking is the new normal in terms of how we bank. Sending and receiving payments via PayPal, Apple Pay, and other online platforms are becoming more popular. The world may be ready to become a cashless society, but many may not quite be there yet.
Personal checks may seem a bit old-fashioned, but they are still in use and a popular method of getting paid. Ready to learn about why paper checks are still being used and where you can cash your personal check easily and safely? Let’s dive in!
More than 7 million American households are unbanked. That means these families don’t have a bank account. This may be due to various reasons, which include a lack of access to a nearby bank, no trust in the banking system, inability to maintain a minimum fees balance, and more.
Many companies and side hustles pay via personal check. Cashing a paper check is also a popular method through which to receive birthday money from grandparents and aunts and uncles.
There are a number of organizations and businesses that don’t accept debit or credit cards. These companies likely want to avoid transaction costs or they have small profit margins. As such, you need to pay with cash or a personal check.
According to a 2021 survey, nearly 10% of Americans do not use the internet. More than 20% of adults over the age of 65 are not online savvy. These people pay bills in person with cash or a check.
There are many people who also prefer the traceability of a check. If you need to settle a dispute with a business or creditor, you and your bank can access a canceled check once it clears.
No matter the reason, if you still use personal checks, you need to know how to cash them. So, let’s look at the 10 most popular places where you can cash a check:
A credit union or your local bank is an easy and popular place to cash your paper check.
If check cashing is one of your bank account benefits, you may not pay any fees for check cashing. And, you may have instant access to your money.
However, if you don’t have such benefits, joining a credit union might be a better option. Cashing your check with a union may be cheaper than going the local bank branch route. Credit unions are non-profit organizations, and this is why they could be the more inexpensive method. Furthermore, you may not have easy access to a national network of bank branches. This makes using a credit union preferable.
The minimum balance required to keep your account open at a credit union may be as low as $5. This is most likely much lower than the minimum balance needed at a bank.
Top Tip: Choose a local bank or credit union that is convenient and offers free checking benefits.
Even if you are a non-customer, you can cash your check at the bank if it is the same bank that issued it. This is, generally, the fastest and safest way to get your money.
You’ll have to pay a check-cashing fee to cover the processing of the check. This amount varies from bank to bank. Some banks even charge a percentage of the amount on the check.
For example, expect to pay no fee for a check worth under $50 and anywhere between $7 and $10 for a $50+ balance. Some banks also charge a flat $7 or 10% fee of the check amount.
You can, however, avoid this fee if you open an account.
To find out what the issuing bank is, look at the bank logo or name on the check. This information should be at the bottom left corner of your personal check.
Not every local grocery store or retailer offers check-cashing services, and so, this option may be hit-or-miss. Additionally, some stores only cash money orders, cashiers’ checks, or payroll checks.
The main difference between these kinds of checks and personal checks is that they are printed and not handwritten. Since there is a lot of fraud, stores may prefer to cash printed checks only.
Some of the stores that may cash checks are Kmart, Market Basket, Schnucks, Food Lion, Giant Eagle, and Publix. However, it depends on where you live.
Note that some stores limit the maximum cashing amount. This generally varies from $75 to $500. To cash your check at a retailer or store, you’ll also have to pay a fee. This fee can be up to $6 per check or 2% of the check amount.
With some stores, like Wegmans, you can opt for store credit. These stores encourage you to buy groceries and then pay with your store credit.
Top Tips: It is best to call the store or visit the store’s website to find out if they cash personal checks. Also check whether or not you need to join a loyalty program to get your money.
Due to fraud, many gas stations don’t accept any kinds of checks. However, some of the travel centers or truck stops you find at gas stations do.
For example, some branches of TravelCenters of America and Pilot Flying J cash personal checks. They may also waive the fee to cash your check if you fill up your car with gas within a few hours.
Top Tip: Call the gas station travel center close to you before you drive there to find out if they cash paper checks.
In the U.S., there are nearly 5,000 Walmart stores. So, the chances of you living close to one is pretty high.
Expect to pay a max fee of $6 for a check. At Walmart, you can only cash a personal check up to $200. If you want more money, you can cash multiple checks of the maximum value.
When cashing your check, you can choose between the cash or the equivalent value on a Walmart MoneyCard.
Top Tip: If you don’t choose cash, you can pay for your groceries with the Moneycard from Walmart.
To cash your personal check via the app, take a photo of your check and upload it. The check takes up to 48 hours, or 2 days, to clear. Once cleared, your balance is loaded onto your 7-Eleven prepaid Mastercard.
You can then use the money at any shop that accepts a debit Mastercard. You can also send money to your family and friends.
For Ingo Money, you can cash money orders, paychecks, business checks, and handwritten personal checks. As their website says, “it’s your money on your terms” with no check-cashing queues, worries, or take-backs.
You can choose whether you want to pay a cashing fee or not. If you don’t want to pay a fee, then your account will be funded in 10 days. If you want your money immediately, then you will need to pay a fee.
For the standard pricing, you’ll pay $5 for a personal check balance of $100 or less. If the balance is more, then you will have to pay 5% of the check amount.
To cash your check with Ingo Money, follow these steps:
- Download the app from Google Play or the App Store.
- Set up your user profile.
- Link your account. This account can be your debit or prepaid card, PayPal, or credit card account. You can also redeem your check money by choosing an Amazon gift card, paying an online bill, or picking up the cash at a MoneyGram location.
- Tap on the “Cash a Check” option.
- Take a photograph of your personal check, both the front and back of it.
- Choose when and where you want your money.
- Click “Submit.”
Your request will then be reviewed, which generally takes a few minutes. Once Ingo Money approves your check, you will receive the funds in your account.
PayPal limits your checking amount. The minimum daily check balance is $5 and the maximum is $5,000. While you can cash more than one check every day, you can only cash it up to the daily maximum amount. In addition, you have a monthly limit of $15,000.
To cash your personal check using PayPal, follow these steps:
- Download the PayPal app.
- Sign up for a free PayPal Cash Plus account.
- Tap “More” in the app.
- Tap “Cash a Check.”
- Take a photo of the front and the back of your personal check.
- Tap “Next.”
- Choose when you want your money.
- Wait for the request to cash your check to be approved.
- Get updates on when your money is added to your account.
Similar to Ingo Money, you can pay a fee to access your money in a matter of minutes. You can also choose to not pay a fee, but then you need to wait 10 days to receive your money.
With regard to the fees, you can expect to pay 5% of the check amount, and there is a $5 minimum fee.
You can choose to have your check balance redeemed by sending it to another bank account or a prepaid or debit card.
When you need to cash a personal check, using a check cashing store should not be your first option. While these stores help you cash a check if you don’t have a bank account and the money is available within minutes, there is a big con to consider. The cost.T
It can be very expensive to use check-cashing services as they charge high fees – leaving you with a lot less of your hard-earned money. They may charge 2.5% to 3% of the check balance. Some stores charge even as much as 10% of the check amount.
Some options for check cashing services are:
- Amscot in Florida
- Friendly Check in North Carolina
- California Check Cashing Stores
- The Check Cashing Place in Los Angeles and San Diego counties
- United Check Cashing
- Payomatic in New York
- Ace Cash Express in Texas
- Check into Cash Stores are in more than 30 states
- Money Mart
Top Tip: Use check cashing stores as a last resort if you are willing to pay a high fee but need your money instantly.
Endorsing a check is also called a third-party check. If you want to cash a check, you can endorse it to your friend who has a checking account. They can then cash the check for free at their bank and then give you your money.
So, how do you endorse a check? It is really easy. At the back of the check, you write “Pay to the order of [add friend’s name].” Underneath this, you sign the check.
Since fraud is widespread, you may need to go with your friend to the bank and verify your identity. Your friend may also need to complete a form that states you gave them permission to cash your personal check.
Be aware that there are some banks that don’t accept third-party checks. Some of these include Regions, Discover Bank, and Ally Bank. So, before you go, call the bank or visit their website to find out what the process is when you endorse a check to your friend.
Similar to check cashing stores, you can use Money Services if you don’t have a bank account or want access to your money immediately. This option is very convenient as Money Services are likely to be located in a grocery store near you. According to their website, they are in 2,126 locations all over the U.S.
Some of the grocery stores where you can find Money Services are Baker’s, Dillons, Fred Meyer, Fry’s Food, Jay C, King Soopers, Kroger, Metro Market, Pick ‘n Save, QFC, Ruler, Ralphs, and Smith’s.
One big advantage is that Money Services charge low check-cashing fees. They also often have special promotions and Shopper’s Card benefits, meaning you can save some money too!
To cash your paper check at Money Services, you need to locate a store near you, bring your check, your ID, your social security or Taxpayer Identification Number, and the Money Services team does the rest.
In terms of the fees, for a check with a balance up to $2,000, expect to pay around $4. For amounts higher than $2,000, you will pay $7. Money Services also have a maximum check cashing limit of $5,000
You can use the Money Services location locator to find a store near you.
A common question is whether you can cash a personal check at an ATM. The easy answer is yes, but there are two catches. One, you need to be a bank customer, and two, the ATM must be able to process a check.
If you find a check cashing-enabled ATM, you should have the check, a pen, and your bank card with you. Then you need to follow the instructions on the screen to cash your check. In some cases, the machine will only dispense the cash if you have that amount of money already in your account. This is because it takes a few days to process the check on the bank’s end.
When you need to cash a personal check, there are a few important things you need to keep in mind.
- Not all places accept handwritten checks. It is best to carefully review our list of the 10 top places you can cash a personal check. Alternatively, call ahead and find out if your chosen location will cash your check.
- Ensure the check is written in your name, which should match the name printed on your legal ID.
- Make sure the amounts written on the check match. There is one field where the amount is written in numbers. An example of this is “$100.00.” In the other field, the check amount is written in words. An example would be “one hundred and 00/100.”
- The issuer of the personal check needs to sign it. This states the check is legitimate and active.
- The correct date must be noted on the check. Some places only accept checks issued in the last 6 months or 180 days.
- You need to endorse the check. This means you sign your signature at the back of the check. You can also write your account number below your signature if you want the money to be deposited into your bank account.
- You need to take your ID with you. It is advisable to call the place where you want to cash your check and find out what type of ID they accept.
- Some places charge higher fees when you need to cash a check while some stores or banks do not charge any fees.
- Most places have a limit on how much you can cash per day.
You don’t need a bank account when you need to cash a personal check. There are plenty of other viable options. These include the Ingo Money and PayPal apps, endorsing the check to a trusted friend, or finding Money Services, a Walmart, 7-Eleven, or check-cashing stores.
With fees ranging from free to quite a lot, it is best to see where you can save money and pay less. Keep in mind how quickly you need to access your money too. The key is to just do a little bit of research on your options. You should have access to several of the places or services on this list so we hope you find the perfect place to cash your personal checks!