cash personal check
Updated May 31, 2020

Where Can I Cash a Personal Check?

Checking Accounts

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More and more individuals and businesses are moving to digital payment solutions like Venmo and PayPal, but we haven’t completely moved past traditional methods. The transition to online payment can actually be an issue when you unexpectedly need to cash a check.

This article will cover some of the first options to consider if you need to find a place that offers cash for personal checks. Even if you don’t have any checks right now, it’s good to know the closest location to you in case you ever receive one.

Your Credit Union or Bank

  • bank wire transfer
    Credit Union or Bank: Best for Saving Money
    • Basics: Cashing checks at your own bank or credit union is usually the most convenient option. Most brands provide free check cashing services to existing customers, although non-customers may be charged. Some companies offer online and mobile banking for additional flexibility.
    • Pros: You should be able to walk into your credit union or bank with a check and walk out with cash. This is the most reliable way to cash checks without worrying about fees. You probably live near at least one branch of your own bank or credit union.
    • Cons: If you don’t have convenient access to a physical branch, you may need to wait for online processing. You’ll need an account in order to cash checks for free.
    • FEE

      Depends on bank or credit union

    • TURNAROUND

      Depends on bank or credit union

    • ONLINE

      Depends on bank or credit union

If you have an account with a local bank or credit union, this is usually the simplest way to turn a personal check into cash.

Most places will cash your check without charging a fee, and you’ll have cash in hand when you leave. This is a much faster turnaround compared to waiting for online processing.

Of course, you’ll likely need an account to access free cashed checks and other perks. If you don’t already have an account and don’t plan to make one, you should consider another item from this list. On the other hand, making a credit union or bank account is a critical step toward improving your approach to personal finance.

While credit union options can vary depending on your location, there are a number of reasons to join a credit union rather than a bank. Credit unions are accountable to their members rather than shareholders, and they typically offer benefits such as better interest rates and fewer fees.

Depending on where you have an account, you may also be able to cash your check through your bank or credit union’s online portal.

Online transactions take longer to process, but they also allow you to cash checks from your phone or computer. Most major banks also have mobile apps that further streamline the process of cashing checks.

Walmart

  • walmart
    Credit Union or Bank: Best for Saving Money
    • Basics: Walmart is one of the most accessible stores in the United States, and their check cashing fees are comparably low. You can cash up to $7,500 in checks per day from January through April and up to $5,000 per day throughout the rest of the year.
    • Pros: Walmart charges just $4 on checks up to $1,000 and $8 on larger ones, significantly less than many competitors. You can cash a wide range of checks including 401(k) checks, money orders, personal checks, and more. Walmart offers an immediate turnaround, so you can leave with cash in your wallet.
    • Cons: There’s no online option, so you’ll have to cash all checks in person. While the fees are lower than some other services, you can usually cash checks for free at your own bank or credit union.
    • FEE

      $4 on checks up to $1,000, $8 on checks $1,000 and above.

    • TURNAROUND

      Immediate

    • ONLINE

      No

You probably don’t associate Walmart with cashing checks or other financial transactions.

In fact, Walmart offers competitive rates on cashed checks and doesn’t require an account. They currently charge $4 on checks up to a value of $1,000 and $8 on all larger checks.

Unfortunately, Walmart has a daily maximum of just $5,000, so you’ll need to cash checks over multiple days if you have several smaller checks.

The limit goes up to $7,500 from the beginning of each year until the end of April. This is intended to help people cash checks from their tax refunds as well as holiday gifts.

The other drawback to cashing checks at Walmart is that they only take two-party personal checks worth up to $200. You can opt to exchange your check for a Walmart MoneyCard in addition to cash.

Walmart accepts a variety of checks including government checks, cashiers’ checks, 401(k) checks, money orders from MoneyGram, and more.

Walmart is one of the largest chains in the United States, so it could be more easily accessible than the closest bank or credit union. Keep in mind that while $4 per check might not sound like much, it could add up to a lot if you’re cashing a check every two weeks.

The Issuer’s Credit Union or Bank

  • issuers credit union or bank
    The Issuer’s Credit Union or Bank: Best for Verification
    • Basics: You can cash a check at the issuer’s bank or credit union if you don’t have a more convenient option. Again, specific policies can vary widely depending on the brand that issued the check.
    • Pros: The teller will be able to view the other party’s account information and verify that they can cover the charge. You may be able to find a bank or credit union that doesn’t charge when cashing checks for non-customers.
    • Cons: On the other hand, high fees for non-customers are surprisingly common. You could end up spending significantly more than you would at Walmart or another location.
    • FEE

      Depends on bank or credit union

    • TURNAROUND

      Depends on bank or credit union

    • ONLINE

      Depends on bank or credit union

If you don’t have an account yourself, you can take the check to the issuer’s bank for quick cash. One advantage of this strategy is that the teller will have access to their account and be able to confirm that they have enough money to process the check.

The name of the bank should be clearly displayed on the front of the check. If you’re not sure where to cash the check, you can always call or check their website to learn more about their policies and fees.

Many credit unions and banks charge people who aren’t customers when cashing checks. While Walmart’s fees are relatively small, getting a check cashed at another bank can be surprisingly expensive.

For example, you might lose ten percent of the total value. That’s a significant amount to give up, particularly if you’re cashing checks consistently.

Of course, some places don’t charge cashed check fees at all, so you should research the particular bank or credit union before making the trip. Remember to compare fees with any other local businesses that offer check cashing services to make sure you’re getting the best deal.

PayPal

  • Paypal
    PayPal: Best for Current PayPal Users
    • Basics: If you already have a PayPal account, it’s easy to cash checks and manage your money through the website or app. PayPal simplifies the process by allowing users to cash checks by uploading pictures of the front and back.
    • Pros: PayPal charges just one percent on government and payroll checks with a pre-printed signature. You can bypass the one-percent instant transfer fee by selecting a standard transfer. Cashing checks through PayPal is an even more convenient choice if you have an existing account.
    • Cons: Standard transfers can take significantly longer, and the instant transfer fee is on top of the fee for cashing your check. PayPal limits users to $5,000 per day and $10,000 per month.
    • FEE

      1% for instant transfers +5% on personal checks or 2% on government and payroll checks with pre-printed signatures. 10-day standard transfers are completely free.

    • TURNAROUND

      Instant or ten-day (standard)

    • ONLINE

      Yes

Most checks are cashed in-person, but online check cashing is becoming increasingly popular. While some banks will let you cash checks online as a customer, there are also a growing number of companies that offer check cashing services to all users for a small fee.

PayPal, for example, makes it easy to turn your checks into cash. You’ll simply need to take a picture of both sides of the check and upload these photos to the PayPal website or app.

There are apps available on both iOS and Android, so you can cash checks directly from your phone. PayPal only accepts endorsed checks.

From there, you can choose either an instant transfer (1% fee) or a standard transfer, which takes ten days to process but removes all fees. There’s also a service charge on top of the instant transfer fee—5% of the check’s value with a minimum of $5.

This drops to 1% for government and payroll checks that have a pre-printed signature.

PayPal accepts checks worth anywhere from $5 to $2,500. The platform limits users to $5,000 in cash per day and $10,000 in a month.

Keep in mind that PayPal will deposit into your PayPal account—you’ll still have to transfer it to your bank account.

Ingo Money

  • ingo money
    Ingo Money: Best for Flexible Payouts
    • Basics: Ingo Money isn’t as well-known as PayPal, but it offers a wider range of payment methods. Aside from that, the two platforms share most of the same core features.
    • Pros: You can cash checks through PayPal, prepaid debit cards, Amazon gift cards, credit card transfers, and MoneyGram cash pickups. Free ten-day transfers are also available if you can afford to wait.
    • Cons: PayPal and Ingo Money are virtually interchangeable for the majority of users, and most people prefer to stick to what they know. Aside from payment options, the platform doesn’t offer any key selling points to differentiate it from PayPal or other similar services.
    • FEE

      5% on personal checks, 2% on government and payroll pre-printed signatures, minimum of $5.

    • TURNAROUND

      Depends on payment method, free ten-day transfers.

    • ONLINE

      Yes

Ingo Money works similarly to PayPal, although there are a few notable differences. Again, you can start the process by endorsing the check and taking pictures of the front and back.

You’ll be able to choose from a variety of payment options, making Ingo Money more flexible than PayPal.

Ingo Money currently supports Amazon gift cards, PayPal transfers, prepaid debit cards, MoneyGram cash pickups, and credit card transfers. Funds are generally transferred quickly, so you should receive cash within one business day of uploading the check.

Like PayPal, Ingo Money charges 5% on personal checks with a $5 minimum.

Similarly, this fee is reduced to 2% with a $5 minimum on government and payroll checks with pre-printed signatures. And again, you can get around these fees by opting for a standard ten-day transfer.

You can access Ingo Money through their website or mobile app, available on both iOS and Android. Unless you already have a PayPal account, Ingo Money’s flexibility and matching fees make it a more attractive option.

That said, you’ll have a very similar experience on both platforms.

Grocery Stores

  • grocery stores
    Grocery Stores: Best for Store Credit
    • Basics: Some grocery stores cash checks, although many chains have stopped accepting handwritten checks. Each brand has its own rules about checks, so you’ll need to call or check a store’s website to determine whether they offer check cashing services.
    • Pros: Grocery stores that cash checks often remove fees or provide additional benefits if you take the cash as store credit. You can cash checks and use the money on groceries on the same trip.
    • Cons: Each store’s rules are completely unpredictable, and independently owned stores may not have any posted policies. You may be charged significant fees, particularly if you aren’t interested in store credit.
    • FEE

      Depends on store

    • TURNAROUND

      Depends on store

    • ONLINE

      No

You might not expect grocery stores to cash checks, and the reality is that their policies are unpredictable. That said, many chains still cash checks at competitive rates.

Unfortunately, a fear of fraud has led many grocery stores to only accept printed checks such as money orders, cashiers’ checks, and payroll checks.

Every store or chain has its own rules for cashing checks, so fees can be wildly different from one brand to another. If you’re considering having checks cashed at a grocery store, don’t forget to check a few stores to compare fees.

It’s also worth mentioning that stores are often willing to reduce or even remove fees in exchange for store credit. While you can only use credit at that particular store, this is a good deal if you were planning to spend the money anyway.

If your local grocery store offers this perk, you’re essentially having checks cashed for free.

Most people cash checks with their own bank, but you don’t need a bank account to turn checks into cash. In fact, many of these alternatives offer unique advantages that aren’t available at most banks. Keep these options in mind if you ever need an alternative way to cash checks quickly.

Alex McOmie

Alex McOmie currently serves as the Managing Editor for Money Done Right. He joined the Money Done Right editorial team in summer 2019. Learn more about Alex.

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