My Tips for Cashing a Personal Check

Featured photo by Paul Lowry, CC BY 2.0

I’ve been faced with trying to cash a personal check in some silly situations — like on a Sunday. I thought I’d provide a few ideas about cashing a check in this article.

I used a couple different sources for this article. I found that this article about cashing personal checks helpful, along with this article by U.S. News.

Cashing through the bank

Cashing a personal check entails a brief visit to the bank. There are two ways to do this:

  1. Go to your bank and deposit the check, through the ATM or the teller. Endorse or sign the check before inserting it into the ATM. The check goes through a clearing process and once it is done, it gets credited to your account.

2. Go to the bank that issued the check and have it cashed.

Different banks will have different procedures for cashing checks, but, generally, a bank will charge non-customers with a fee for cashing checks. Banks may charge up to $5 or more for check-cashing by non-customers. Expect to be offered another option — open an account with the bank and the fee will be waived. Bring at least two identification cards, such as driver’s license, social security number card, passport, office or school ID.

According to a 2012 survey conducted by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), however, close to 10 million U.S. households do not have bank accounts. This implies that majority of U.S. consumers rely on other means for their check encashment needs.

Cashing through check-cashing stores

Small independent shops, also commonly called mom and pop stores, also offer check-cashing services. The service is quick and easy, but rather costly. Be prepared to pay a fee which is usually computed at a certain percentage of the value of the check, although flat rates are also used by some stores providing this financial service. It’s not unusual for a $1,000 check to be imposed a $15-$20 check-cashing fee.

Before going to these stores, check their rates on line. Ask questions. A store may advertise 1% check-cashing fee but does not emphasize a fixed add-on cost on top of the percentage fee.

Cashing through supermarket chains and retailers

Popular supermarket chains, such as Wal-Mart and 7-Eleven, offer a cheaper option through their check-cashing kiosks. Wal-Mart, for instance, collects as low as $3 for checks not more than $1000. If you use the services of 7-Eleven kiosks, a $1000 check will be charged a convenience fee of around $10.

Gas stations or convenience stores

Some convenience stores and/or gas stations will cash a check. They may have a maximum cash amount you can get and/or take a flat rate or percentage of the amount you want.

Family and friends

If you need to cash a check to get some quick cash, you may be able to ask your family or friends to “hold” the check until you have the money in the bank. Although this is an I owe you (IOU), you would get some money and a check cashed.

One clap, two clap, three clap, forty?

By clapping more or less, you can signal to us which stories really stand out.