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can you cash a check at any bank?

Can you cash a check at any bank? Some of the best banks will do it for you even if you’re not a customer. But your options don’t end their. You can also cash checks at several retailers, grocery stores and even through mobile apps linked to prepaid cards. Read on to learn all about cashing a check at a bank where you don’t have an account and elsewhere.

Which Banks Cash Non-Customer Checks?

No law obligates banks and credit unions to cash checks for everyone, especially non-customers. Still, many banks across the country will cash checks for you. Your first stop should be the bank that issued the actual check.

Some banks will cash their own checks for a fee. This fee can be expressed as a percentage of the check, a flat dollar amount or both.

Some banks let you open prepaid debit cards without opening an actual account. With these, you can usually cash checks at any of the bank’s branch locations or ATMs. For example, Chase offers a prepaid card for a monthly fee around $5. Some banks will simply convince you to open accounts to avoid a hefty fee-cashing fee. The best banks in the U.S. typically offer simple bank accounts with a small minimum opening deposit (or none at all) and no monthly fees.

But anytime you cash a check at a place that’s not your own bank, you also must consider the amount. You’re usually in the clear if your check is below $5,000. Some places charge larger fees for larger amount,s and almost all put a flat cap on how much you’re allowed to cash.

The type of check matters too. Most banks will accept government checks, because they know the funds exist. When it comes to personal checks, they would make sure the person who wrote it has enough funds in his or her account. Regardless of type of check, however you’d need proper identification.

But if you’re turned down at the check-issuing bank, there are other places you can cash your check.

Check Cashing at Retailers

Several retailers from local mom-and-pop shops to major department stores cash checks including personal ones. Kmart, for example, offers free check-cashing services in several states. In others, it charges flat fees ranging from 50 cents to one dollar. Walmart does the same for fees ranging from $3 to $6 depending on the amount you want to cash. Several 7-Eleven locations also house kiosks where you can cash checks.

Cashing Checks With Prepaid Debit Cards and Mobile Apps

can you cash a check at any bank?

Several banks, companies and retailers offer reloadable prepaid debit cards. With one of these, you can deposit a check via an ATM, store kiosk or even on a mobile device. 7-Eleven, for example, offers a prepaid debit card with mobile banking features. You can snap a photo of your check to deposit it into your prepaid card. 7-Eleven offers this service through a partnership with First Century Bank. But you don’t have to be a customer to download the app that gives you access to this feature.

Plus, apps like Ingo Money can be linked to a number of different prepaid cards. With the app, you can snap a photo of a check to reload your card. The app also accepts personal checks, business checks and money orders. And the company claims to give you access to your funds in minutes.

Fees vary depending on the check amount and the type of pricing plan you have with IngoMoney. For example, standard pricing allows you to deposit a check of up to $250 for a $5 fee or 2% of the amount more than $250. As you can see, the fee steeps high for mobile deposit when you don’t have a bank. The tradeoff is the convenience of cashing a check virtually anywhere with service.

Check Cashing Stores

These go by several names: check-cashing stores, payday loan stores, title loan stores. Regardless of the banner out front, these should be your absolute last resort. Cashing checks at these locations can trigger fees as much as 5% of the amount you’re retrieving, plus a flat dollar fee. In certain cases, law makers have even stepped into stop them from making deceptive business practices. Some states outlaw payday loans altogether.

The Takeaway

Can you cash a check at any bank? The answer is maybe. But if they do, you’d likely face a fee. So be prepared for that, and make sure you have proper documentation. If the check itself has a bank’s logo on it, that should be your first stop. In this case, the place where you’re cashing your check may be willing to give you looser terms. Of course, you have other options. You can cash your check at grocery stores, major retailers and supermarket chains. Although risky, cash checking stores are also an option. Fees can span from none to extremely high. So the key is to shop around. Look up these options and see who can offer you the best terms. Rest assured though, you can cash your check even if you don’t have a bank.

Tips on Cashing Checks

can you cash a check at any bank?

  • While it’s possible to cash a check without a bank account, the process may take a serious chunk out of your pay. Sometimes, it’s easier simply to open a basic checking account. Several major banks offer simple accounts that require little-to-know opening balances. Many of these also charge no monthly fees. But with so many options, it can be hard to pick the right one. To make the process easier, we’ve published a report on the best checking accounts in the market today.
  • If you’re opening a bank account for the first time, it’s important to start a good savings routine. To help you out, we conducted extensive research on the best savings accounts available today. Not only will your money be insured by the federal government even if the bank fails, you’d also have an emergency fund ready to tackle the unexpected.

Photo credit: ©iStock.com/MicroStockHub, ©iStock.com/RyanJLane , ©iStock.com/AndreyPopov

Javier Simon, CEPF® Javier Simon is a banking, investing and retirement expert for SmartAsset. The personal finance writer's work has been featured in Investopedia, PLANADVISER and iGrad. Javier is a member of the Society for Advancing Business Editing and Writing. He has a degree in journalism from SUNY Plattsburgh. Javier is passionate about helping others beyond their personal finances. He has volunteered and raised funds for charities including Fight Cancer Together, Children's Miracle Network Hospitals and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
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