How to cash a check

Technology hasn’t quite eliminated the need to cash paper checks. Whether it’s a paycheck, a birthday check from your grandma, or a government-issued check, you can still cash paper checks at almost any bank, credit union, or check cashing store.

The free and easy way to cash a check is at your bank or credit union. But what if you lost your ID? Things get a little tricky when you can’t provide identification. In this article, we’ll walk you through the process of cashing a check, then explain how to cash a check without an ID or a bank account.

Endorse the Back of the Check

First, when cashing your check, you’ll need to endorse the back of the check. Endorsing a check just means you signed the back of it and have handed it to your bank (or other check cashing location) in exchange for money.

But don’t sign the back of your check until you’re at the bank and ready to cash it. If you lose a check that you’ve already endorsed, or it gets stolen, anybody could cash the check and take your money. If you are missing your ID or uncertain whether you will be able to cash a check, hold off on endorsing it until you know it will be accepted.

Fill Out a Deposit Slip (If Necessary)

This used to be more common, but has become less so in recent years. If you’re visiting a teller at your bank to cash your check, the teller will probably fill out a deposit slip for you or may ask you to fill one out. Most of the time, however, this process is more or less automated, and doesn’t require a paper deposit slip.

If you choose to deposit the check through an ATM, the process is simple. Just insert your debit card, enter your PIN number, select “Deposit Check”, insert the check you wish to deposit, confirm the amount, and you’re done. Then you can withdraw the money from your account if you need cash.

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Present Identification

Tellers at most banks will ask you for a photo ID before cashing your check. If you’re a member or have an account with the bank, they might ask for your debit card or bank account information, as well or in place of a photo ID. Some banks, particularly credit unions, issue account ID cards which can also be used to access your account and allow check cashing services.

Take Your Cash or Make Your Deposit

That’s it for the check cashing process. You may choose to cash your check or deposit the funds straight into an account. Here are a few tips to keep in mind.

  • If you go to a check cashing store other than your bank or credit union, watch out for fees and review payment policies before endorsing the check with them. Depending on the amount of your check, the fees might not be worth it.
  • You should also ask about any delays before you’re able to access the funds. Depending on the check amount, an institution (banks as well as check cashing stores) could put a hold on your funds for a few days.
  • Only cash a check you know is valid. Suspicious checks in the mail might seem harmless but if the check bounces or is fraudulent, you could be held responsible. Always know where the check came from and whose funds it will draw against.

Grocery Stores

There are only three grocery stores we found that are open 24 hours and offer check cashing services around the clock as well.

1. Walmart

You might know that many Walmart stores have check cashing counters. However, some locations cash checks right at the registers too.

The cash registers are usually your best bet for cashing checks at Walmart during the overnight hours. See if the money counter is open first, but if it isn’t, head over to a cash register and ask if they’ll cash your check.

The types of checks Walmart cashes include:

  • Money orders purchased at Walmart
  • Government checks
  • Payroll checks
  • 401k checks
  • Cashier’s checks         
  • Insurance settlement checks

And potentially others. Note that Walmart won’t cash personal checks, however.

Check-cashing limits vary per Walmart locations. The overall Walmart rule is that they’ll cash checks up to $5,000. Some stores have a self-imposed lower limit, however.

Another thing to keep in mind is that cash registers don’t usually have thousands of dollars in them. Therefore, when you’re cashing checks late at night, cashiers may not be able to accommodate a very large check.

Walmart charges $3 to cash checks up to $1,000. Checks that are over $1,000 cost $6 to cash.

Note: Not all Walmart locations are open 24 hours. Check with stores near you for hours of operation.

2. Tops Friendly Market

Tops Friendly Market has locations in New York, Vermont and Pennsylvania. Some, but not all, locations are open 24 hours.

Tops will typically only cash some payroll checks and some government checks.  They have a $500 check-cashing limit, and charge $1 per check cashed.

3. WinCo Foods

WinCo Foods has stores located throughout Western United States. They have store locations in states including:

  • Arizona
  • Texas
  • Washington State
  • Idaho
  • Utah
  • California

And more.

WinCo stores are open 24 hours in most cases, but typically only cash machine-printed payroll checks. There is a limit of $1,000 for checks cashed.

Fees are $5 for checks up to $500, and $10 for checks between $501 and $1,000. However, you can get reimbursed for that fee in certain cases when you shop at WinCo.  

As you can see, not many grocery stores are open all night. Later on in the article, we’ll share about grocery stores that are open late at night.

Check Cashing Stores

There are a few check cashing stores that are open 24 hours at some or all locations. Check out the details on the ones we found, and what they offer.

4. Community Financial Service Center

Community Financial Service Center (CFSC) has locations across the United States. Note that some – but not all – locations are open 24 hours.

CFSC will generally cash payroll checks, personal checks, government-issued checks, insurance checks and some other types of checks.

Fees and check limits can vary per location, so call ahead to find out more details before you go.

5. Speedy Cash

Speedy Cash has locations throughout most of the United States. They cash nearly all types of checks, including:

  • Payroll checks
  • Insurance checks
  • Benefit checks
  • Student loan checks
  • Cashier’s checks
  • Money orders

And more.

Speedy Check charges a minimum fee of $2 per check. Details on the fees vary. Note that not all Speedy Cash locations are open 24 hours.

6. PLS Transportation Services and Check Cashing

PLS Transportation Services and Check Cashing has locations around the United States. They’re open 24 hours a day.

They will cash your checks for as little as 1 percent + $1. They’ll cash payroll checks, personal checks, government checks and more. Check with individual locations near you if you have questions about whether they’ll cash your check and how much they’ll charge.

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