Editor’s note: Lantern by SoFi seeks to provide content that is objective, independent and accurate. Writers are separate from our business operation and do not receive direct compensation from advertisers or partners. Read more about our Editorial Guidelines and How We Make Money.
Consumers have options where they can cash a check, but they may not be able to cash a check at any bank. While it would be convenient to pop into whatever bank is closest when someone has a check to cash, doing so isn’t always possible. Typically, to cash a check at a bank, either the payer or payee needs to have an account at that specific bank or the bank won’t cash it.Let’s take a closer look at where consumers can cash checks.
Cashing Personal Checks
The best place to cash a personal check is at a bank or credit union where the payee has an account. If someone doesn’t hold an account at the bank they want to cash a check at, there’s still a chance the bank will agree to cash it (primarily if the check was written by one of their account holders), but this can result in a fee for the payee.If you are trying to cash a check without a bank account, you could try to cash it at a check-cashing store. However, check-cashing stores are often the most expensive way to cash a check. Most charge a percentage of the check, ranging from 1% to 4%.Some retailers make it possible to cash checks via their customer service departments, but doing so generally results in a fee and it can be hard to find a retailer willing to cash large checks. And finally, if you don’t have a bank account, try cashing the check at the issuing bank. The bank that issued the check can verify there’s money in the account and that the check won’t bounce. Be aware that you may be charged a fee if you use this option.Recommended: What Happens If You Cash a Bad Check?
Cashing Cashier's Checks
A cashier’s check is a secure and guaranteed payment form issued by a bank. With a cashier’s check, the bank guarantees the funds are available to complete the payment, which makes this an ideal form of payment for large purchases.Because the bank guarantees the funds are available, you can typically cash a cashier’s check at any bank. To avoid a fee, it’s best to cash a cashier’s check at your own bank, but you can also cash it at the issuing bank, a check-cashing store, or any place that offers check-cashing services.
Where to Cash a Check
Alongside being able to cash a check at a bank the payee is an account holder at (via a bank teller, mobile app, or ATM), it’s also possible to do so at retail stores, check-cashing stores, and the issuing bank. The primary cons of doing so at any of these locations is there is no guarantee they’ll cash the check and they may charge fees. The only potential advantage of using alternative solutions to the payee’s bank is the convenience or accessibility factor of another location. Before using a check-cashing service, it’s important to research the fees in advance. It never hurts to try to negotiate these fees lower (they typically range from 1% to 4% of the check amount). It’s a good idea to shop around for the lowest possible fees when dealing with cash-checking stores or retailers that offer this service.
Cashing a Check Without an Account
While it can be possible to cash a check at a bank where someone doesn’t have an account, doing so does come with some challenges. Typically, this has to be done at the issuing bank (check the bank name printed on the check) and the payee will end up incurring fees. Don’t forget to bring a form of ID to the bank, as identification is required to cash a check. It’s also possible to cash a check by depositing it onto a prepaid card. This can be done at an ATM.Opening a checking account is an easy way to solve this problem once and for all. Once someone opens a checking account, they can easily cash checks for free at their local branch location or by using the bank’s mobile app or ATM. Having a checking account is a great way to keep money safe while also keeping it accessible. Recommended: What Do You Need to Open a Bank Account?
When it comes to cashing checks, it's important to know that they cannot always be cashed at any bank. Your first option is to cash the check at your own bank. If this isn’t an option, cash it at the issuer of the check’s bank. Other options to cash a check include check-cashing stores, retail stores, or depositing it onto a prepaid card. Note that with some of these services, you may be charged a fee.Of course, having a bank account is the easiest way to cash a check. If you’re interested in opening a savings account that earns interest, consider Lantern. With Lantern, you can compare interest rates, fees, and minimum balance requirements on high-yield savings accounts all in one place.Compare high interest online savings accounts and find today’s best rate with Lantern.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I cash a different check at my bank?
Can I cash a check at a bank that's not mine?
Can a bank refuse to cash a check made out to cash?
Photo credit: iStock/AndreyPopov
About the Author
Jacqueline DeMarco is a personal finance writer and editor based in Southern California. While she spends the bulk of her time writing about complex financial issues, she also tackles a variety of subjects ranging from food to fashion to travel. Her work can be found across dozens of publications such as Credit Karma, LendingTree, Northwestern Mutual, The Everygirl, and Apartment Therapy.