When you have a check and a bank account, cashing a personal check is super simple.
You can either go in person and deposit or cash it out. And if your bank has a solid mobile app, you can even quickly take a picture of it and deposit via your phone.
Yet, as surprising as it may be to you, some 1.7 billion adults worldwide still don’t have access to a bank account, according to data released by the World Bank.
This is what you call being “unbanked” and there are a few reasons why someone might not use a bank:
Lack of access via a nearby bank branch or mobile phone, Minimum balance fees, Distrust of the banking system, No access to government-issued ID, which is required to open a bank account.
And that’s okay if you fall into any of those categories. There are still several ways you can cash a personal check without a bank account.
Below are a few places you can go where some will be cheap and others might cost you some fees.
What You Need to Cash A Personal Check
Before we get into the options of where you can cash a personal check made out to you, it’s important to know what you may need to bring with you.
After all, all locations that offer cashing checks for you still need to protect themselves from any potential fraud before handing out money. This is especially true if you are cashing a fairly large check.
But not even just fraud, these locations also are taking a potential risk as the issuer of the check may not have sufficient funds to cover the amount.
When you cash a check in person, you will mostly likely be required to show a valid photo I.D. For example, your driver’s license will be a top choice.
Additional I.D. options would be your passport if you have one or a Green Card. In some cases, military or school I.D.s may also be accepted.
Typically, that will be all you will need. But having two forms with you if you have it, will be good just in case!
Best Places to Cash A Personal Check
What’s great about cashing a personal check without a bank is there are a few options to choose from. Remember though, personal checks are still much harder to cash without a bank (More on that at the end).
Ideally, you want to pick the one with the lowest fees to keep more money in your pockets. However, it will depend on what places are nearest to you.
The Bank That Issued the Check
The first option you have to cash the personal check is to go to the issuing bank or credit union. That would be the bank information you see on the check made out to you.
It might be your best option, especially if you want to ensure the check is valid, that there are sufficient funds, and want potential fees are.
That way, you know you will get your money and if it makes sense to cash elsewhere based on fees. This will potentially be your cheapest option and may even be free pending the amount on the check.
But, this might not be an option if the issuing bank does not have any branch offices close to you. However, it’s strongly recommended that this should be the first place to consider.
Examples: Capital One is free, Chase is $8, T.D. Bank is $7, etc. They will all vary, but here is a list of fees for checks at different banks.
Honestly, what doesn’t Walmart do? While it’s not my personal favorite store, it is an option to cash a check.
A few years back if I recall, they did not have this as an option until more recently. Anyway, Walmart has a pretty extensive list as to what they can cash:
- Payroll checks
- Government checks
- Tax checks
- Cashier’s Checks
- Insurance settlement checks
- 401(k), retirement distribution checks
- All Pre-Printed Checks*
- MoneyGram Money Orders
- Two-Party Personal Checks**
The store can cash checks and money orders in any amount up to and including $5,000. Now there are some fees involved too, which I’m sure will change (as you know, prices always seem to go up!).
Pre-Printed Check Cashing Fees
- For checks up to and including $1000: $4.00*
- For checks over $1000 up to and including $5000: $8.00*
Two-Party Personal Check Cashing Fees
- Two-Party Personal Checks Up to $200: $6 or Less**
And what is cool about cashing a check at Walmart is you can receive your funds in cash or have them load the money on a Walmart MoneyCard. Some additional stipulations may apply, but you can read the full details here.
Local Grocery Stores
Although technically you could potentially bucket Walmart under here since they sell groceries, I’m keeping these separate.
So another potential option to cash a personal check is at your local grocery store.
Now, most mom & pop grocery stores probably will not do this (you can always ask!), but if there is a franchise store located in your area, then you might be in business.
Some may only offer only certain check types up to a certain limit and not allow personal handwritten checks. It may also vary by store location, so ensure to read their website information first.
Here are a few to consider:
Honestly, while I was researching a bit I was surprised to see 7-Eleven offer some financial services.
I’m just used to the idea of getting slushi’s, that it didn’t even come to mind that the convenience store would off some money options. But here we are!
Okay, so you may know that 7-Eleven offers prepaid cards and money orders, but if a 7-Eleven near you has a check-cashing kiosk, you can cash a check there, pay bills, etc.
They also have an option you can use by signing-up for their Trans@ct prepaid Mastercard which gives you access to the following:
- Linking to your rewards card for more points
- Load cash into your prepaid card
- Load a check of $100 or more using the Mobile Check Load feature on the Trans@ct App
- Stop paying per transaction, and just pay a monthly fee of $5
- Recurring Direct Deposit
Probably not the best option to sign-up for another prepaid card, but if you don’t mind and want the card, you can take the check and load it onto this card. You can learn more here about the card.
Expensive Places to Cash A Personal Check
So the above were some of the best options for you to cash a check. But I also wanted to include some places you might want to avoid because of the much higher fees.
Of course, if you are absolutely strapped for cash or in a bind, then you potentially may need to visit one of these places. However, I’d certainly avoid it if possible.
So if you go to search online for, “Where can I cash a personal check near me,” you’ll probably get a few options or some ads near the top as well.
But what you will most likely find is payday loan providers or check cashing stores listed.
I don’t recommend doing business with any check cashing stores, title loan and payday loan companies, as they are one of the most expensive options for cashing a personal check.
Some of the payday loan providers will require a credit check or may need the person who issued you the check to be in person.
Each of these places operate with different policies, so if you have no choice to go to one make sure you call up first.
Lastly, the fees.
This is the main reason I recommend avoiding them if possible as you will pay high interest (5%-20%!) or even a flat fee plus the interest too. Each store is different, so there may be some that have more sensible fees, but be warned!
Some Decent Check Cashing Stores
Like I said above, sometimes these check cashing stores are your only option. And if that’s the case, you do want to ensure you choose ones with a decent reputation and that won’t screw you on massive fees or interest.
Ace Check Express
Ace Cash Express is a popular option. The business states they’ll cash most any check as long as you bring it in with a valid photo I.D. (like the government issued driver’s license or other I.D.).
Some of the types of checks they’ll cash include:
- Payroll checks
- Insurance settlement checks
- Money orders
- Personal checks
- Checks made payable to a company
- Income tax refund checks
- Government checks
It does mention that they will cash checks of any amount, but that is subject to their terms and conditions. Lastly, they do not list the fees so if you do go in person, make sure to find out!
They have over 900 locations, so likely there is a store located near you potentially. You can find a local store and read more about cashing checks at Ace Cash Express here.
Check into Cash
According to their website, Check into Cash has more than 1,000 retail locations for check cashing and other monetary services.
Check into Cash store locations also cash various kinds of checks including:
- Printed or handwritten payroll checks
- Government checks
- Tax refund checks
- Some personal checks
- Cashier’s checks
- Money orders
- Insurance checks
As with any location, there may be check limits as well as various levels of fees pending location. If you want to learn more or find a store near you, go to the Check into Cash website here.
There may be some more local ones to you that are not franchises or in multiple states. Before committing to one, make sure you do your due diligence.
Read reviews, look them up on the Better Business Bureau, and Google them a bit to ensure there isn’t anything fishy about them.
The last thing you want to do is set yourself up for a scam or pay ridiculously high fees.
Personal Checks Are Much Harder to Cash
The challenge with cashing personal checks, is there are only select options compared to payroll, government checks, or any pre-printed checks.
There is more risk for the stores and check cashing stores, so many won’t accept them at all. Others like the retail stores may have strict limits of a few hundred dollars.
It’s recommended that you start with the issuing bank, if possible to try to cash a personal check.
If the bank doesn’t offer these services to you and it’s a large check (over $1,000), then you might be better off asking the person to give you a money order or a cashier’s check instead.
These types will be much easier to cash and will cause you less in fees or headaches in finding a location that will cash your personal check.
If you want to open a bank account and aren’t sure where to start, I have a few resources for you:
- How To Open a Checking Account [The Complete Guide]
- How To Open a Savings Account [The Complete Guide]
- 4 Online Bank Accounts That Help Put Your Money to Work