You may receive or prefer checks and you may not have a bank account or ID. You may not want to deposit your check into your account as it’s currently overdrawn or you may need the funds faster than the bank will release them into your account.
Without a bank account or valid identification, cashing a check can be problematic, but it’s still possible to cash checks and get your money, often for a fee or percentage of the check, or if you find the right option, it can be free.
Can You Cash Checks Without A Bank Account Or ID?
Cashing a check without either a bank account, ID, or both can be a challenging and expensive process. It is possible to cash checks without a bank account or ID, but there are often limitations, requirements, or added fees to do it, so be prepared to spend some of your check on fees.
|Check Cashing Option||Personal Checks||Instant Cash||Wait For No Fee||Bank Account Required||ID Required|
|Online Check Cashing||Variable||Fee||10 Days|
|Cash Checking Store||✓||High Fee||N/A||Variable|
|Grocery Store / Retailer||Fee||N/A||✓|
|Your Bank ATM||✓||Variable||N/A||✓|
Not having a bank account is less problematic than not having a valid government-issued ID, as a valid photo ID that is verified can be more helpful in recovering money.
Why Is A Bank Account And/Or Required To Cash Checks?
A check is a piece of paper that states personA promises to give personB a certain amount of money from their bank account, it’s not a guaranteed promise like digital payments.
Checks don’t guarantee that the funds are available, and check fraud is a significant issue that costs financial institutions and other businesses a lot of money each year.
By depositing a check into a bank account, there is a verifiable entity linked to the payment received, or with a valid government-issued ID, the same payee verification can be done, and if there is fraud or lack of funds, the money can be recovered.
Essentially, any financial institution or business cashing checks don’t want to lose money from a check that doesn’t clear, is invalid, or is fraudulent. Bank accounts and government-issued photo IDs are the easiest but still effective methods to limit financial loss.
Where To Cash A Check Without A Bank Account Or ID
If you don’t have a bank account or don’t want to deposit your check into a bank account, there are a number of ways to cash your check with varying difficulties and costs involved.
|Option Type||Cost||ID Required|
|Issuing Bank||Free / $8||✓|
|Retailer||$4 – $8||✓|
|Check Cashing Store||$2.99 + 3%||Preferred|
|Online Check Cashing||1-5% / Free|
- Cash the check at the issuing bank, which will be written on the check.
- Cash the check at a retailer, such as a grocery store.
- Visit a check-cashing or payday loan store to get your check cashed.
- Online services like Paypal can cash your check for digital currency.
- Sign your check over to a friend to cash your check for you.
Cash The Check At The Issuing Bank
If your check has an issuing bank or credit union that you can get to, you may be able to have them cash the check, but almost every bank will require a valid government-issued ID that matches the name on the check.
An issuing bank will likely cash a check if:
- The check is written by one of their account holders
- The account that wrote the check has available funds
- The check isn’t older than six months
- You are the payee, and you have valid government-issued identification
Depending on the bank or credit union, there may be a fee of around $8, but most banks will cash the check for free. However, if this is an ongoing requirement and the bank does charge an $8 fee, you may need to look at better check cashing options.
Some banks may also cash government checks if they can verify the legitimacy of the check, even if you’re not a customer. However, there will likely be a fee of around $8 for this service, rather than being free.
Cash The Check At A Retailer
Many grocery stores still offer check cashing services, and they typically charge a flat fee of around $4 – $8 for each check, often smaller fees for smaller checks. You will be required to show government-issued identification.
Not all stores will cash all checks, you’ll have a better chance with printed checks from businesses or the US government.
The checks a store will accept are generally up to each store manager. However, a personal check that has been signed over to you has a limited chance of being cashed.
Cashing a check at a retailer is often a more convenient and cost-effective option than using banks that charge fees or check-cashing stores. Required
Retailers And Grocery Stores That Cash Checks
Not all retailers or grocery stores will cash your check, and if they do, there will be fees and limitations on which types of checks they will cash. Some stores are also slowly removing the service as checks become less used and fraud problems continue for the stores.
|Store||Fee||Maximum||Types Of Check||ID Required|
|Vons||$2.25 per $100||$1,000||Printed||✓|
|Meijer||$3 – $5||$1,000 – $2,000||Personal / Business||✓|
|Publix||$3 – $6||$75||Printed||✓|
|Albertsons||$2 – $6||$1,000||Printed||✓|
|Walmart||$4 – $8||$5,000||Printed||✓|
Fees are relatively standard across most stores that cash checks, but they will verify and determine if they will accept your check at their discretion. If they believe the check is fraudulent or has issues, it will be refused.
Use A Check Cashing Store
Payday loan or check cashing stores are often the most convenient option for people that don’t have bank accounts, the fees are often around $2.99 per check plus 3% of the overall amount being cashed.
For $1,000, you may be paying $2.99 plus $30, so the total cost is $32.99, which is significantly higher than any other option available.
Cashing your check at a check cashing store should be your last option, especially if you have to do it monthly, as the fees cut into the money you need to survive.
Check Cashing Store Requirements And Benefits
Check cashing stores will often want a government-issued ID, but it’s not always a hard requirement, especially if you have a government-issued check to cash.
If you’re going to use a check-cashing store, it’s best to open an account with them that gives you a history of passing good checks so that their trust in you is higher. This can often lead to higher amount checks being cashed to longer-term customers.
You also have the advantage of getting access to most check cashing stores’ mobile apps, which means you can digitally cash checks and use a store-issued prepaid credit card, which also means you don’t need to carry cash around with you.
Online Check Cashing
Online check cashing options like PayPal check cashing is a fantastic way to get free check cashing without the need for a government-issued ID.
Paypal will let you take a photo of your check and deposit it into your PayPal account, there is a fee for instant access, or it’s free if you can wait ten days for the funds to clear.
If you need instant access, the fees are 1% of all government-issued checks or 5% of all other checks.
Online Check Cashing Services include:
- Paypal, as mentioned above, is one of the best options.
- Cash.app can be used to deposit checks for free.
- Ingo Money can cash checks for $5 or 2-5% of the check
- Netspend can cash checks for up to 2% and put on a prepaid credit card
There are a range of online check cashing options, all with varying levels of cost and ID requirements. Paypal offers the easiest option with the least amount of ID requirements, and as long as you don’t need instant access to the money, there is no fee to cash checks.
If you already have Cash.app and use it regularly, then it’s a good option that has zero fees, you can get an optional visa debit card to use the funds, and you only need a bank account attached if you want to transfer money.
Online Check Cashing Setup And Requirements
You must have an email address, which you can get for free from Gmail or other online services. You can then set up an account with PayPal, which doesn’t require you have a bank account or ID.
In some situations, you may be asked to attach a bank account, credit card, or debit card. This is not always required, but if needed, you can get a prepaid debit card issued online or through money services stores.
Once your money is available through PayPal, you can make purchases online, use your PayPal app for payment at various stores, or even be issued a PayPal visa debit card to make physical purchases at any store.
Have A Friend Cash Your Check
Depending on your comfort level and access to a friend willing to deposit your check, you can have them deposit your check into their bank account and then give you cash back.
You need to sign the check over to your friend by writing “Pay to the order of” and the person’s full name on the bank of your check and then sign it in the area provided.
Using this method removes your requirement for a bank account or ID. However, once you sign your check over, you need to trust your friend will return the money.
If your friend doesn’t have a bank account but does have ID, they may have luck at grocery stores or other locations to get your check cashed, however, signed over checks face more scrutiny when being cashed.
Can You Cash A Check At An ATM Without An Account?
Most major bank ATMs will allow customers to deposit a check and then withdraw the cash often instantly. However, if you’re not a customer at the bank, an ATM isn’t going to let you cash a check.
If you are a customer of the bank but forget your ID then the ATM will accept the check as long as your name is on it or it’s been signed over to you. The ID requirements for cashing checks are significantly removed when using an ATM at your own bank.
Under almost no conditions would a bank or private ATM accept your check if you aren’t a customer or couldn’t verify your identity or that the check is valid. Fake, invalid, stolen, or bounced checks fall on whoever owns the ATM to take on the costs, so there is no benefit in them risking cashing checks to unknown entities.
Benjamin is a certified financial advisor, with over 10 years of experience in the industry. He is knowledgeable about various business and financial topics, such as retirement planning and investment management. Ben has been recognized for his work in the financial planning industry. He has also been featured in various publications.