Cashing a Personal Check: Where and How To Do It

In most societies around the world, everyone seems to be moving toward a cashless era. Gone are the days when employees had to queue outside the boss’s office waiting for their monthly paycheck.

You would then cash the check to finalize the transaction.

Nowadays, there are simpler and more convenient ways of making payments such as internet banking, mobile apps, services such as PayPal, and so on.

However, this does not mean that the use of paper checks has been eliminated as they are still widely used.

And, as we mentioned earlier, you have to cash the check to access the money. But how do you go about the process?
Well, that is the exact purpose of this article, and we are going to tell you where you can cash the check as well as how to do so.

Let’s go.

How to cash a personal check

Getting the Difference

The speed at which you access your money all depends on whether you cash or deposit your check. Many people often use these two terms to mean the same thing, but in reality, there is a difference.

  • Check Deposit

This means adding the amount on the check into your bank or credit union account. Depending on the institution’s regulations, you may have to wait for several days before accessing the money.

  • Cashing a check

Cashing a check implies that you are going to receive the cash in hand, and you will get immediate access to the money. So, if you are in a rush, this may be the best route to follow. However, you should be ready to incur a cost.

How to Cash a Personal Check

‘Where can I cash a personal check even without a bank account?’ This must be the question that is ringing through your mind. Luckily for you, there are several alternatives that you can take advantage of.

We have broken down and analyzed the most convenient ways of cashing your personal check.

1. Your Local Bank or Credit Union

This is the best option that you could go for. The main benefit of using your own bank is that you can cash for free as a result of being a regular client. Then, you would have immediate access to your money.

As for the credit unions, they tend to charge fewer fees than banks plus may have a lower minimum balance requirement to keep the account open. The significance of this aspect is that you get to avoid monthly checking account fees.

So, go for a bank or credit union that is easily accessible and offers you free checking.

2. The Issuing Bank

Another smart way of cashing a personal check is through the bank where the check issuer has an account. The name of the issuing bank is normally located at the bottom left corner of the check, just above the memo lines.

By going for this option, you can know whether or not there are available funds. If there is something, you should get your money.

However, there are several things that you should be prepared for. First, you may be required to avail your ID as a way of verifying your identity.

Bank Teller

Another thing is that banks have different cashing policies for non-customers. In fact, there are banks that charge non-customer fees, and so you should always be prepared.

A good way to know these policies is by visiting the bank’s website or by calling the customer care line.

There are banks where non-customers get debit cards on cashed checks. The only catch is that these cards have maintenance fees and expiry dates.

3. Travel Centers

Many gas stations do not allow the use of checks due to the risk of fraud that they carry. You may have better luck with travel centers, also known as truck stops, which you find when you travel along interstates.

Keep in mind that not all travel centers accept checks, and you should research ahead of time. Examples of travel centers that accept checks are Pilot J and TravelCenters of America.

4. 7-Eleven

As we mentioned earlier, most gas stations do not accept checks of any kind. One of the few exceptions is 7-Eleven, whereby you can transact via the downloadable 7-Eleven app.

The operation of this app is very simple. All you have to do is take a picture of the check with your phone and then send it.

The check is likely to clear within 48-hours, and the balance would be deposited onto your reloadable 7-Eleven prepaid card.

After that, you can use the card for transactions in any facility that accepts Debit Mastercard.

5. Walmart

We understand your surprise when you see this header. ‘Does Walmart cash personal checks?’ The answer is yes, and the explanation behind this is very simple.

Statistics say that the average American is 10-15 minutes away from a Walmart store. This means that you are likely to pass by a Walmart store more than the issuing bank.

So, you can use your cashed check as your grocery money in the nearest Walmart store. However, the Walmart cash checking service is not free, and you can expect to pay the following costs:

  • $4 for a check not exceeding $1,000
  • $8 for a check more than $1,000

Walmart’s daily cashing limit is $7,500, and it rises to $7,500 between January and April.

Personal Check

The different checks accepted at Walmart include:

  • Government checks
  • Pre-printed checks
  • Tax checks
  • Insurance settlement checks
  • MoneyGram money orders

6. Your Local Grocery Store

This also depends on the grocery store that you are shopping at, as some stores’ cashing policies prohibit the use of personal checks in making transactions.

The wise thing to do is consult with the customer service desk to see what is accepted.

Some stores prefer money orders and payroll checks, while many refuse handwritten personal checks due to the risk of fraud.

In summary, familiarize yourself with the store’s cashing policies before attempting any transaction.

7. Endorse the check to a friend

Another way of cashing your check is by endorsing it to your friend. Such checks are often referred to as ‘third party checks,’ and the process of endorsing the check is quite simple.

At the back of the check, you should:

*Write ‘Pay to the order of Friend’s Name’ on the top line
*The sign the check below this endorsement

All banks have their own unique policies for cashing endorsed checks. In some banks, you need to accompany your friend to the branch as a way of combating fraud.

For others, you will be required to fill out a form outlining your friend’s permission to cash your check.

8. Cashing at ATMs

You should also know that it is possible to cash checks at ATMs, provided that the ATM has such a capability. A majority of such ATMs are within the physical branches, plus there are those that accept remote deposits and have a three-day holding period.

9. Use of Check-Cashing Stores

The last option on our list should also be the last one on yours due to the high fees such entities charge.

In most instances, the fee is charged as a percentage of the balance rather than a flat rate. If the flat rate would have been applied, then the smaller balance would have been cheaper than a larger balance.

However, when the charge is based on the balance, you will find that the larger balance often carries a lower fee.

These stores cash all types of personal checks, including handwritten checks. They are very convenient, although it will cost you a lot.

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Things to Focus on Before Cashing Your Check

Fake checks are a common phenomenon in the banking arena. Therefore, you have to do all that it takes to avoid getting caught up in this predicament.

If you want to know that your check is legit, there are several things that you should look out for.

I) Inspect the Signature

If the signature is characterized by fading, missing spots, or gives a hint of photocopying instead of hand-writing, then this may point to forgery.

II) Look for Mistakes in the check

There are some mistakes that you are not likely to find in a genuine check. Such errors include missing bank logo, spelling errors, lack of a street address for the bank, and so on.

Any of these could be an indicator of fakeness.

III) The Paper Quality

A real check would not be printed on regular paper, nor should it be flimsy. On top of that, there should be at least one perforated edge.

If the check has smooth edges, this is a red alert as it is an indication of printing rather than being torn from a checkbook.

IV) Contact the Issuing Bank

First, the number that you call should not be the one that is printed on the check. Rather, check out the bank’s official website for the real number.

The reason for calling the bank should be so that you can find out whether there is any record of the check in its systems.

V) The Numbers on the check

There are several aspects of the numbers on the check that could point to a fake check. First, the check number should always be there on the top right corner of the document.

Then, the routing number should be printed with matte magnetic ink and should not be shiny. Still, on the routing number, it should not be too short or too long.

All in all, in case of any doubts, call the bank to confirm the routing number.

VI) If the check is for less than $5,000

You should always be suspicious if a check that is for less than $5,000 suddenly shows up in your mail. This is because many fraudsters send such checks as banks are more likely to release small amounts before conducting a prior inspection on the checks.

A few Pointer When Cashing a Personal Check

As we conclude, we are going to give you a few tips on cashing personal checks. If you keep them in mind, then the process should be as simple as it should be.

  1. A photo ID should always be there for identification purposes
  2. Not every location cashes handwritten checks
  3. The rates of cashing checks vary from one bank and store to the other
  4. The checks that are likely to give you the easiest time in cashing them in are those from employers, government agencies, and your tax refund.

Final Word

Nowadays, there are many convenient options for making payments, such as credit cards, internet banking, and ATMs. However, you may find yourself in a situation where your personal check is all you have to rely on.

For this reason, we hope we have told you all you need to know about cashing your personal check. We have done our best to answer various questions such as ‘Where can I cash a personal check?’ and ‘How do I do it?’

And always take all the necessary precautions since frauds involving personal checks are at an all-time high.

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