Have you ever wondered how to cash a personal check when you don’t have a bank account? Or where you can cash a check right now and what the charges would be?
You might need to cash a check from a friend because you’re traveling out of state, or you could have an online bank or you may simply not have a bank account at all.
If someone writes you a check and you don’t have access to your own bank, you may have a problem.
Don’t fret, there are several ways you can cash a personal check without a bank account.
Here’s how you can do it.
Places that will Cash a Personal Check
There are a number of places that will cash your check.
It is a bit risky for them because if the check bounces due to insufficient funds they will have to come after you to collect the money.
They all will ask for some form of ID and keep that info on file until the check clears.
Most of these locations and banks do charge a fee to cash your check. Some fees are minimal (like Kmart and a few Banks) but others can really charge huge amounts (up to 5 percent of the value of the check).
If you’re careful and ask the right questions, you can minimize the fees you pay and maximize the amount of money you’ll get to keep.
Below is our list of 11 places that WILL cash a check (some with minimal fees).
At the bottom of the article is a list of stores that will cash other types of checks for you (payroll, money orders and government), but will NOT cash a personal check.
A. Retailers & Grocers who Cash Personal checks
Many grocery stores and retailers list various money services on their websites. Things like Western Union, Cashiers Checks and Money Orders can be purchased or used to send money.
Most of these stores will cash payroll and government checks, and a few of them say they will cash a check written to you personally.
As we’ve researched this topic, we called several stores that listed the cashing of personal checks. We discovered that many parent companies allow the stores to determine their own policies. As a result, some WILL cash a personal one, but others won’t.
So it’s always a good idea to call ahead and ask if they can cash your check.
Here’s a shortlist of the larger grocery chains that can help you.
1. Giant Eagle Grocery Stores
If you live in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio, Maryland or Indiana you can cash a check written by a friend to you at one of Giant Eagles 229 stores.
You won’t receive cash for your check, but you will get equal value put on a Giant Eagle Advantage Card to spend in their store.
You’ll need a government-issued ID to be eligible to cash a check.
They use a third-party verification system and will also review your check cashing history before giving you your money.
It’s not clear if they charge a fee for cashing a check and putting the value on their advantage card. But they do charge a fee for cashing a payroll or government check.
Kmart stores are becoming rarer as their parent company struggles financially and they shut down stores in many locations. However, if you can find a store near you, they do offer the option of cashing personal and payroll checks. They are one of the least expensive options.
They will cash a check written for up to $500 and charge a fee of $1.
They will also cash paychecks, and government-issued checks for up to $2000 for the same fee.
Kmart Check Cashing Restrictions
– Government checks up to $2,000
– Payroll checks up to $2,000
– Two-party checks up to $500
While Kmart has the best price for check cashing the number of stores they have is decreasing. As of August 2018, they had about 340 locations left open.
Before heading to a Kmart, call first to make sure the store is still open.
Publix does cash personal and payroll checks at all stores. You’ll need to provide a driver’s license, state-issued photo identification card, or military identification.
– Fees: $3 to $6
– Get Publix Check Cashing details
Publix Check Cashing Restrictions:
Maximum of $75 per day (this restriction is very limiting and one of the most expensive options for cashing a check)
– Find a Publix
As of the fall of 2018 Walmart has joined the ranks of stores that will cash a personal check. They do have some limits though. They will cash a personal check written to you if you bring a government ID and if your check is less than $200.
- Fees: $4 – $8
- Maximum Value: $200
Government-issued or Payroll Checks Cashing fees and limits:
For checks up to $1000…………………………………….. $3
For checks between $1001 to $5000………………… $6
You can take your check to any checkout lane to cash it. They limit your check cashing transaction to $5000 except between January and April when they raise the limit to $7500. Get more details at Walmart.com
5. Transact App from 7-Eleven
7-Eleven has a prepaid MasterCard. If you also download the Transact App, you can load checks right onto your prepaid MasterCard.
All you have to do is open the app and take a photo of the check using your cell phone. You can designate the check to be added to the balance of your Transact Prepaid Mastercard.
Get the App for iOS and Android
RELATED ARTICLE: Emergency Fund Examples & Amounts
B. Banks or Credit Unions that will Cash Your Check
Look on your check for the name of the issuing bank. This is going to be the easiest place to cash that check.
Image courtesy of Nate D Sanders Auctions
Most banks will cash a personalized check written to a non-account holder for a fee. Some will only cash a check that is written from one of their account holders.
You should be prepared to show some form of ID when attempting to cash a check at a bank.
Here is a shortlist of some of the large banks that will cash your check.
6. Bank of America
- Non Customers: $6
- Find a Bank of America Branch
7. BBVA Compass Bank
- Non Customers: $8
- Find a BBVA Compass Branch
8. BMO Harris
- Non Customers: $10 (must be $50 or more and drawn from BMO Harris account)
- BMO Harris Fee Schedule
- Find a BMO Harris Branch
9. Chase Bank
- Non Customers: $8 (photo ID required)
- Find a Chase Bank Branch
10. FifthThird Bank (Lowest Fee)
- Express Account – no minimum balance, no credit check – no fee check deposit with instant access to funds (must have 16 transactions per month). So go in and open an account, then cash your check.
- Non Customers: 1% of the check’s Value – Max $4.
- A $500 check will cost you $5 to cash.
- Find a Fifth Third Bank
- Non Customers: Free for checks less than $50; $7 if more than $50
- SunTrust Check Cashing Details
- Find a SunTrust Bank
12. US Bank
- Non Customers: $7
- Find a US Bank
13. Wells Fargo (our personal experience with this bank causes us not to recommend them)
- Non Customers: $7.50
- Find a Wells Fargo
C. Expensive Places to Cash a Check
If you Google “Check Cashing Locations Near Me” you’re likely to find check cashing stores and payday loan providers pop up.
We don’t recommend doing business with check cashing stores, title loan and payday loan companies, as they are one of the most expensive options for cashing a check written by a friend to you.
We would love to see these businesses shut down because they charge ASTRONOMICAL fees and prey on people who are struggling financially.
We’ve seen billboards in Phoenix where they advertise loans with a Monthly Percentage Rate (MPR) of interest at 20 percent!
If you borrowed $100, each month they would charge you $20 in interest. In 5 months the interest alone would be the amount you borrowed.
Check Cashing store policies vary from location to location and from state to state.
In Arizona, there are some stores that will cash a personal check without requiring any form of ID. But they will charge a steep fee – upwards of 5 to 7 percent of the value of the check.
We read one article where the author cites a location in Maryland that charges 10% to cash a check.
Other stores require several forms of ID and look at the cashed check as a loan until the check clears.
Also, other locations may charge a flat fee plus a percentage: like $5 plus 1% of the value of the check.
And finally, other types of checks usually incur a lower fee.
D. Reputable Check Cashing Stores
Even though we don’t recommend these types of check cashing options, we realize that they are a reality. If you stay away from the lending side of these businesses, you may be okay. Their fees for cashing personal checks range from reasonable to are a little on the high side. We’re only showcasing those companies that have a presence in multiple states.
14. Ace Check Express
Ace Check Express has more than 950 locations across the US. It was founded in 1968 and has locations in 18 states.
They charge 3% for cashing a check.
Cost: A $500 check will cost you $15 to cash.
15. Check Into Cash Stores
Check into Cash was founded in 1993 by Allen Jones in Cleveland, Ohio. There are now more than 800 locations around the U.S.
Cost: $2 per check after your initial check cashing.
16. PL$ Check Cashing
PL$ Check Cashing has is located in 12 states around the U.S. It was founded in 1997 and has more than 300 locations.
They charge a fee of 1% + $1 applies to recurring in-state payroll and government benefits checks up to $1,500. They may charge more for cashing personal checks.
Cost: A $500 check will cost you $6 to cash.
17. MoneyMart Check Cashing
MoneyMart was founded in 1982 in Edmonton, Alberta. Today they have more than 1300 locations in 32 states and Canada and the U.K.
They advertise rates “as low as” $2.99 per check plus 3 percent to cash a personal check. Their fees are some of the highest we have seen. We recommend finding other options.
In 2003 and 2009 Money Mart was sued for charging higher than reasonable interest rates. They paid damages without admitting guilt.
Cost: A $500 check will cost you $17.99 to cash. Their fees are equal to paying 36% of your check!
18. Speedy Cash Check Cashing
Speedy Cash was founded in 1997 in Riverside, CA. They are now located in 12 states and have more than 200 locations.
Their website says they charge as little as $2 to cash a check … “plus applicable rates in your area.” Meaning that they most likely charge a percentage plus $2.
Be sure to ask their specific rate before agreeing to cash your check there.
Most other grocers like Safeway, Kroger, HEB and more will not cash a personal check, but they will cash the following items for a fee. We recommend calling before visiting:
– Payroll checks
– Tax refund checks
– Government checks – Social Security & Disability
– Cashiers’ checks
– 401 (k), retirement disbursement checks
– Insurance settlement checks
Safeway’s Check Cashing Fee: $2.25 per $100
According to Target customer service, they do not cash personal checks. But they do accept them as payment.
F. Endorse The Check to a Friend
If you don’t have a bank account but have a friend who does could cover the amount of the check with cash, simply sign the back of the check and give it to your friend.
You get the cash fast. And your friend can go to their own bank and deposit the check.
G. A Bank Account that Earns 25x Interest!
But by far, the best thing you can do is to get financially strong. Establish good money habits. Set up a bank account and deposit your money there at no charge.
If you need a bank that pays a high-interest rate and has very low fees consider CIT Bank. They are an FDIC insured bank that pays 25x the national average in interest (1.55% APY).
You can deposit checks from your phone and then have access to your money.
You can open an account with a minimum balance of $100. Get details from CIT Bank.
H. Other Options To Get Your Money Fast
Cashing your check isn’t the only option if you need quick access to the money.
Pre-Paid Debit Cards
If you really don’t need the cash, but simply want to access your check’s funds, consider setting up a prepaid debit card account.
With a prepaid debit card, you’ll still pay some fees. Things like check-deposit fees, monthly service fees, and cash reloading fees.
But most prepaid debit cards allow you to set up direct deposit for payroll and government benefits checks on the card. And you’ll be able to access the funds almost as soon as they are deposited.
Some cards also allow you to use your phone to deposit a check by taking a picture of it.
No Credit Check Bank Account
Like we mentioned earlier, Fifth Third Bank offers an Express Banking account. Set up does not require a credit check and there are no minimum balances or monthly fees.
If you average 16 transactions each month, depositing a check with instant access to the funds is free. If you have fewer transactions they’ll charge you 4% for personal checks and 2% for government checks.
Many businesses will cash-out your paycheck for no fee. Since you have a relationship with the company, you could ask if they would cash a check written to you from a friend.
If someone is going to write you a check and you don’t have a bank account, consider asking for cash or a prepaid visa gift card instead.
There are lots of places that will cash a paycheck or a tax refund check, but very few that will cash a personal or handwritten check.
Beyond the hassle of trying to find a location to cash your check, the fees you’ll pay will really take a chunk out of your money.
Why should it cost you a fee to get access to your money?
You’ll end up losing between 2 and 10 percent of what you were given. That’s a steep price to pay.
There are two options for avoiding check-cashing fees:
- Cash the check at the bank it was issued against. It’s not a guarantee that there will be no fees, but there is a greater likelihood.
- Get paid in cash.
And most importantly, do everything you can avoid going to a payday loan or check cashing location. These places should be used as a last resort as they charge atrociously high-interest rates – literally robbing you of your hard-earned money.
Some states have outlawed or severely restricted these types of operations. But other states allow them to operate with little to no regulations – leaving them free to charge interest rates that banks would never be allowed to charge.
Unbanked and Underbanked
According to a 2017 FDIC survey, 6.5 percent of households in America were unbanked. Unbanked means that they had no accounts-checking or savings-at an insured institution.
This means that approximately 8.4 million households have no bank accounts.
The term Underbanked represent people who have a checking or savings account but also use financial products outside of the banking system.
Specifically, underbanked households use non-bank services such as money orders, check-cashing services, remittances, payday loans, rent-to-own services, pawnshop loans, refund anticipation loans, or auto title loans at least one time in the last 12 months.
The number of Underbanked households currently is 18.7 percent of U.S. households (24.2 million).
Next Steps to Financial Freedom
Needing to cash a check and at the same time, not having a bank account are indications of struggling financially. If you want to stabilize your finances and start to build wealth, follow these steps.
Don’t just live for today. Start squirreling away money to open a bank account – so you can have money to live for the whole month. Start with $10, then $20, then more. It will build quickly if you’re focused. Learn about the money management system we use. It helped us pay cash for cars, vacations and even pay off our homes in record time. America’s Cheapest Family Budget System.
Determine if the things you’re spending money on are true “Needs” or are they just conveniences (wants). Focus on spending only on needs – Food, Shelter, and Utilities. Save every other penny you can.
Stop Eating Out:
Be brutal – start cooking at home or at least buy prepared meals from the grocery store (canned soup, rotisserie chicken, frozen dinners) – they’re way less expensive than restaurant meals. If you are going to eat out, learn some tricks to save money from our Restaurant Hacks page.
Simplify Your Phone:
Get a prepaid plan that relies more on Wi-Fi than a huge data plan. Do this until you have at least $1000 saved in a bank account. Check out these tips for saving on cell phones.
We know of many young people who are deeply involved in video gaming. So much so that they rarely work a full-time job. If you can make financial independence and stability a priority that is higher than gaming, you’ll be on your way to becoming independent and strong.
Shop for clothes and household items here. You’ll spend 90% less than buying retail. This will allow you to build savings more quickly. Read how we buy used and save a ton of money.
Start by selling things you no longer need on Facebook Marketplace, CraigsList, and OfferUp. If you’re good at it, you could start picking up things at garage sales or thrift stores and re-sell them. Read our evaluation of how and where to sell stuff you don’t want.
Every successful man or woman reads (or listens) to books. Our public libraries are full of awesome books on personal finances and frugal living. Make it a goal to read several of these books this year … of course, we recommend starting with America’s Cheapest Family Gets You Right on the Money – learning to manage money and live below your means is a challenging, but fun experience.
If you follow these suggestions, pretty soon you’ll have more than $1000 in savings. You’ll have a car that runs well and you’ll be able to pay your monthly bills with money you have in the bank. AND you won’t be concerned about looking for a place to cash a personal check and end up paying a hefty fee in the process.
- America’s Cheapest Family Gets You Right on the Money
- Cut Your Grocery Bill in Half
- The MoneySmart Family System – Teaching Financial Independence to Children of Every Age