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Banking 101: How to Cash a Check Without Going to the Bank

Written by Katherine Gustafson | Published on 2/19/2019

Note: This article is part of our Basic Banking series, designed to provide new savers with the key skills to save smarter.

With digital banking and peer-to-peer payment services on the rise, it can come as a surprise that people still pay each other using paper checks. For many, receiving a check may be an unusual experience, leading to the inevitable question: What to do with the thing?

The good news is that in this day and age, there’s no reason to stand in line at the bank to cash a check. You have many options to gain access to that money and cash it without going to the bank.

Here are a few ideas on how to cash a check without going to the bank:

Use mobile check deposit

This is the best option for those who do most of their banking digitally and tend to stay away from cash. Most banks now have apps that allow you to take a picture of a check and deposit it into your account virtually.

Your bank’s policies and the size of the check will determine how quickly you have access to the money, but for relatively small amounts it may be immediate — the only catch is that you must have a bank account to use this option.

Load it onto a prepaid card

One way to get money from a check is to deposit it onto a prepaid debit card, which you can then use to access the cash at an ATM or to make purchase. Get a prepaid card associated with a mobile app that allows you to deposit a check using your phone so you can capture the check onto the card easily. But be aware that there may well be fees both for initiating the card and for the mobile-deposit service, especially if you want access to the money quickly.

Endorse the check to a friend

A tried-and-true method of getting cash out of a check is to endorse it over to a friend who is willing to deposit it into their bank account. Endorse the check on the back with “pay to the order of [your friend’s name]” and then sign your name underneath. Your friend will be able to sign below to endorse it for deposit, and their bank will treat it as a normal check deposit with no fees; your friend can then pass on the fee-free cash value to you. This is a free and easy way to cash a check, but be aware of how doing business transactions with friends may impact your relationships.

Cash a check at a retailer, but beware of fees

Some major retailers provide check-cashing services to their customers, either for free or for a low fee. For example, Walmart cashes checks up to $5,000 for a fee ranging from $4 to $8, while Kmart cashes checks up to $2,000, with a fee ranging from 50-cent to $1 in certain states.

Retailers that don’t provide the service themselves sometimes partner with third-party providers to offer the service in their stores. For example, a variety of major grocery chains such as Kroger, Ralph’s and QFC provide check cashing to customers via a partner company called Money Services.

Go to a check-cashing store as a last resort

If all else fails, you can find a store that will exchange your check for cash for a very high fee. That fee is likely calculated as a percentage of the check amount — and some may also add a flat fee in addition to that. Check-cashing establishments include Moneytree, ACE Cash Express, Check Cashing USA, United Check Cashing, CFSC, Check Into Cash, The Check Cashing Store and Money Mart, among many others. This is a very expensive way to get access to your money.

There are many options for those who find themselves in possession of a check and want to avoid the bank. While you should be on the lookout for fees, know that you can cash a check with no or low fees in various ways.

Previous Comments
  |     |   Comment #1
Since I do not have a smart phone and can't deposit by any apps, and some bank refuse to cash third party checks, I always use the business reply envelopes that my bank provides. Put the check in the mail and it done. It's free and extremely convenient for me.
Old Guys Rule
  |     |   Comment #8
I just drive 3 miles to my bank and hand it to the teller. Done.
Or if feeling lazy, mail it to said bank. Done.
  |     |   Comment #19
Comment #1 We think alike because we do the same exact thing and never a problem. The problem with smart phone deposits is low limits on check deposits and little to no security. Also, the business reply envelopes come with free postage.
  |     |   Comment #2
I do not use risky mobile telephones or tablet computers to do my banking. So no help there. Instead I use a computerized method author here did not bother to mention. I scan the front and rear of my checks with a flatbed scanner, then use my desktop computer to submit those images to my bank. Account crediting is instantaneous. And check images go out via a secure landline, not over the air.
  |     |   Comment #11
I also do this whenever I'm home, for the reasons you mentioned and also because my scanner takes a better and more consistent image than my old cell phone. With my main financial institution (Alliant), if I recall, the daily deposit limits are the same as if I were depositing that check at a deposit-accepting ATM.
  |     |   Comment #14
I still haven't been able to get a decent check photo with my cell. However, as you point out, using a scanner yields great results. The only downside is that I'm stuck with using Internet Explorer because my newer browsers won't support Java.
  |     |   Comment #16
Unless your bank accepts scans via fax, your computer is not sending the image via "a secure landline" but over the "risky" internet. If you are worried about using risky devices, it's probably best to take the check to the bank yourself. Of course there is always the risk of an armed robbery.
  |     |   Comment #3
"Secure landline" is no more secure than an encrypted app, and both are far more secure than snail mail.
  |     |   Comment #5
Seriously? Mobile telephones broadcast your banking data over the air, available to anyone with equipment sufficiently sophisticated to intercept and decrypt your private information.
Get Real
  |     |   Comment #7
Paper mail is not very safe. Near me ex postal workers with drop box keys were arrested for stealing mail. Another trick is to put a sticky substance on the inner part of the pull down door on mail drop boxes. I found a box right outside the post office that someone did this and several letters stuck to the inner side of the door. The post offices near me are converting the doors to slots.
Some people even put mail in their own mail boxes and raise the flag on the box indicating mail that's going out.

Lastly, you have some dishonest postal workers. The post office also uses many temps.
  |     |   Comment #4
"Endorse the check to a friend"
Bad idea, he/she will give you cash for an instrument that can create headache to your friend, some friend you are.
Chase does not cashes third party checks and if they let you deposit it, it will be a long hold put on it and his/her fingerprints will be taken like being a criminal. Meanwhile, your friend's money are on hold for the amount of the check and they already withdrew the money and paid you for the check in advance.
What if the check bounces (some checks are endorsed only to the original name on the check), goodbye friendship for ever.
If you like your friend, never ever try tricks like this, it will bring an end to the relationship forever.
  |     |   Comment #6
Who wrote this article, I see, nobody likes to be blamed for bad advices. Stupid ideas and everyone with bank account (even a newbie) knows how to cash a check. Going to cash checking places, hmmm, you will pay 20% commission for such service and if the check bounces, they will call the cops on you and criminal charges will be filed.
  |     |   Comment #12
comment #6, The author's name is stated on the Bank Deals Blog main webpage: https://www.depositaccounts.com/blog/
  |     |   Comment #13
And also listed under the photo at the top of this page.
First Feral
  |     |   Comment #9
You make "endorse the check over to a friend" sound like a routine, easy-to-do thing. Maybe it was in the 1930s, but not any more.

Although they are allowed to cash/deposit third-party checks, banks are not required to. Most banks will only do it for properly vetted commercial customers like check- cashing stores. Some might allow individual consumers to deposit a third-party check with management approval if the original payee accompanies the depositor in person and presents an ID, In modern times, banks that will allow unrestricted third-party check deposit for consumers are rare.

Don't endorse a check over to someone else unless the other party has first confirmed with their bank that they will accept the check or else you may be stuck with a check that the other person cannot cash/deposit.
deplorable 1
  |     |   Comment #10
I have only used mobile deposit once. The problem is that there is a limit so a large check is a no go. Better off just going to the bank and making a deposit. All the other suggestions are really really bad advice! they will either incur fees or involve trusting someone else with your money.
  |     |   Comment #15
I would not use any of the options stated above and I teach my kids to be honest and if someone gives them a check to promptly deposit it in their account at the BANK. The young kids are 10 times more happier to to their own deposits and see the money in their saving account accumulates. If they cash it, the money are spent in 10 minutes or less.
  |     |   Comment #20
How about teach the young to run to the bank and deposit the check before anything else, where is that option?
Teaching the young to become lazy and dishonest, no wonder this country is going down the hill very fast.
I would recommend this article to NOBODY.
  |     |   Comment #25
I have a check from Wells Fargo but i cant cash it without a valid ID . How do i cash it ?
  |     |   Comment #26
Deposit in a/your bank depositary properly endorsed! Wait until it clears (if that is an issue), withdraw cash, pass go and collect..., repeat.

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