Cashing a paycheck is simple for most Americans: Simply go to the bank and get the money or head to a check cashing location down the street. If someone has written you a personal check but you don’t have a bank account, there are plenty of ways to get the money you need.
The Issuing Bank
The most popular place to cash a personal check is the account owner’s bank.
You can simply walk into the bank, endorse the back of the check and hand it over the teller behind the counter. The teller will then hand you cash equal to the amount of the check itself minus a small fee.
Some banks charge a fee for personal checks while other banks don’t. If you cash a handwritten personal check, you might be charged anywhere between $2 and $10 depending on the institution, while paychecks will most likely be cashed for free.
Banks will not charge check cashing fees for people who have a bank account with them.
Check Cashing Stores
Some check cashing stores will cash personal checks. The fees for using a check cashing place can be much more than the amount banks charge, in some cases up to 10 percent of the check itself.
If you have a significantly large check to cash but don’t want to visit the bank that issued it because the bank is far away, you might consider a local check cashing store to cash it for you. If you can, however, consider going to the bank itself if they maintain a location near your home because the fee will likely be lower.
Check cashing stores will likely attempt to verify funds first before cashing the check. They’ll do this by either calling the person that wrote the check or calling the bank itself before they hand the money over to you. Banks will also verify with the account owner that the check is valid.
Payday Loan Stores
Payday loan companies often cash personal checks for a substantial fee. Similar to check cashing locations, they’ll verify the funds first and then cash the check for you. In some cases, the payday loan center will give you a small amount of the check to hold you over until the check clears. Once the check clears, they’ll give you the remaining amount of the check.
Payday stores are not available in every state. Because of some of the stipulations required and high fees, it’s best to stay away from them if you need to cash any type of check.
Major Retail Stores
If you don’t want to pay high fees for cashing a personal check, big box retail stores have check cashing services.
Normally, you’ll only have to pay a minimal flat fee of between $2 and $5 to cash a check, but in cases where you might need to cash a large check, the store might take a percentage of the total amount as a cashing fee.
If you’ve never cashed a check with them before, the store will verify the check before giving you money.
There are a variety of ways you can cash a personal check. Not every store or check cashing location will cash a personal check, so it’s always best to call ahead and ask first. The easiest, and often cheapest way to cash a personal check is to head to the bank where the account is held. The process is simpler and more straight forward, and they will only charge a flat fee of a few dollars, regardless of the amount of the check.