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Tax Prep Checklist | Check City


Be prepared this tax season with this personal tax prep checklist to help you organize your tax documents.

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There are so many things to remember when filing personal taxes each year. You can itemize and customize your taxes in so many different ways.


You also want to file taxes efficiently each year to make sure you are getting the best tax refund available to you.


The best way to make sure none of these personal tax checklist items are forgotten when filing your personal taxes is to use one of our professional tax preparers at Check City.


Check City’s tax professionals have been professionally preparing taxes for over 30 years and can help any customer get the best tax outcome available to them.


What Do I Need to File My Taxes?


Basically, you’ll want any personal and financial information you have available ready and nearby when you start filing your taxes.


If you file with a tax professional at Check City, then you can call them to ask what you should bring in to do your taxes. The following lists are examples of some things you might need depending on your tax situation.


Personal Information


If you’re filing taxes as a household and not as an individual, then you may also need the following information for your partner, any dependents you might have, and any other adults living in the household.


  • Full Name (as seen on your social security card)
  • Social Security Number
  • Tax ID Number
  • Date of Birth
  • Identity Protection PIN
  • Bank Account Number
  • Bank Routing Number


Tax Documents


There are many tax documents that might be relevant to you depending on your situation. This is another reason why using a tax professional is a great idea, because they’ll be able to go through your necessary tax forms much quicker, making sure you get the tax refund you deserve.


  • W2 tax form
  • 1099 tax form
  • 1098 tax form


All Sources of Income


  • Job Income
  • Investment Income
  • State Income (like tax refunds or unemployment benefits)
  • Taxable Alimony Received
  • Business Income
  • Farming Income
  • IRA
  • Pension Distribution Income
  • Rental Property Income
  • Social Security Benefits
  • Unemployment Benefits
  • Sales Income
  • Gambling Winnings
  • Scholarships
  • and more


Other Records


  • Childcare Records
  • Basic Information for Dependents
  • Income Records for Dependents or Other Adults in the Household


Examples of Tax Deductions


Tax deductions are expenses that might qualify you to pay less in taxes. For example, if you work from home and have to spend money on creating or maintaining your own home office, then those expenses might be tax deductible.


Here are a few other examples of possible tax deductions that might be available to you:


  • For paying other income taxes
  • For paying vehicle sales tax
  • For contributing to an IRA


Tax Deductions For Homeowners:


  • Mortgage interest statements
  • Real estate tax records
  • Personal property tax records
  • Energy-saving home improvement receipts
  • Energy-saving home receipts


Tax Deductions For Charitable Donations:


  • Donated amounts
  • Records for non-cash donations
  • Miles for charity work done


Tax Deductions For Health and Medical Expenses:


  • Records of medical, healthcare, and insurance costs


Tax Deductions For Childcare Expenses:


  • Childcare costs like daycare or babysitting
  • Payments to a dependent care flexible account


Tax Deductions For Educational Expenses:


  • Complete form 1098-T for academic institutions
  • Complete form 1098-E for paying student loan interest
  • Records for qualified educational expenses
  • Records for scholarships
  • Records for fellowships


Tax Deductions For Teacher Expenses:


  • Records of classroom expenses


Examples of Tax Credits


Tax credits are when you qualify for credits from the IRS. Tax credits can help you get a bigger tax refund or help you owe less in taxes this year.


Here are just a few examples of tax credits that might be available to you:


  • Recovery rebate credit
  • Credit for sick leave for self-employed individuals
  • Credit for family leave for self-employed individuals
  • American opportunity tax credit
  • Lifetime learning credit (LLC)
  • The saver’s credit
  • Foreign tax credit
  • Child tax credit (CTC)
  • Additional child tax credit (ACTC)
  • Credit for other dependents (ODC)
  • Child and dependent care credit
  • Adoption credit
  • Earned income tax credit (EITC)
  • Premium tax credit (PTC)
  • Health coverage tax credit (HCTC)
  • Credit for the elderly or the disabled
  • Residential energy efficient property credit
  • Nonbusiness energy property credit
  • Credit for electric plug-in vehicles
  • Credit for federal fuel taxes
  • Low-income housing credit
  • Credit for excess Social Security and RRTA tax withheld


What is the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC)?


This tax credit is meant to help low to moderate income households by giving them a tax break. It can reduce the taxes you owe and increase the tax refund available to you.


You can click “check if you qualify” on the IRS website to see if you qualify for this tax credit: IRS Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC).


Qualifying rules for EITC:


  • Show proof of earned income
  • Have investment income below $3,650 in the tax year you claim the credit
  • Have a valid Social Security Number
  • Claim a certain filing status
  • Be a U.S. citizen or a resident alien all year
  • You could also qualify if you are a military member, clergy member, or have relatives with disabilities


What is the CARES Act?


This act determines your stimulus money eligibility. In 2020, eligibility worked in the following manner:


  • Eligible individuals can receive a tax credit of $1,200 and $500 per qualifying dependent if their income doesn’t exceed:
    • $75,000 a year for single filers
    • $150,000 a year for married filing-joint filers
    • $112,500 a year for head-of-household filers


Tax Relief Due to Recent Disaster Situations


If you have been a victim of a recent natural disaster like hurricanes or wildfires, you might be eligible for tax relief. By visiting the IRS website you can find the most recent tax reliefs available to victims of natural disasters.


Examples of Tax Exemptions


Tax exemptions are qualifications that exempt certain people or organizations from taxes. They are qualifications that mean someone isn’t liable to pay certain taxes.


Tax exemption requirements include some of the following items:


Organizations that are organized and operated for exempt purposes, like nonprofit organizations and charities.


Tax Exempt Organizations Include:


  • Charitable organizations
  • Churches and religious organizations
  • Private foundations
  • Political organizations
  • Other nonprofit organizations


How Do I File My Taxes?


Do you need help filing your taxes? You aren’t alone. There’s a reason tax professionals exist, to help us get our taxes sorted quickly and efficiently every year.


You can start filing your taxes as early as January 1st each year. But the IRS might not start processing those filed taxes until a little later in the year. To figure out when you’ll get your tax refund be sure to visit our tax refund schedule chart for this year.


Here are the basics steps you’ll need to take to file taxes:


Step 1: Gather necessary documents


Step 2: Use these documents to file taxes. Give documents to a professional tax service or file your taxes manually with the IRS.


The easiest and quickest way to file your taxes is to do it electronically. Filing through the mail is also possible but usually takes longer to process and longer for you to get your refund back.


In Conclusion,


Your local or state taxes will depend on your income and the income tax rate of your state. You can find state-specific tax filing information here.


Check City Tax Services can take care of both federal and state taxes for you! Check City will file your taxes electronically too, so your taxes can get filed and get refunded as quickly as possible.


written by Kimber Severance, Check City Finance Writer

How To Fill Out The New W4 Tax Form


The IRS recently updated the W4 tax forms used at the start of a new job. Continue reading for a complete guide on how to fill out the new W4 form.

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Filing taxes can be a complicated process with lots of forms to consider like the W4. By using the tax professionals at Check City you can get all of your taxes prepared at a reasonable price, so you don’t have to worry about doing taxes alone.


What is a W4 Tax Form?


The title of the W4 tax form is “Employee’s Withholding Certificate.” This is the form that employees use to tell their employers how much income tax to withhold from their paychecks.


The tax withholding decisions employees make on their W4 will determine how much they pay in taxes each paycheck.


Some employees might choose to not withhold anything and pay their taxes in full each paycheck. Other employees might choose to use certain withholdings to make their paychecks a little bigger.


Employees that use their W4 for tax withholdings might then be more likely to owe taxes when they file taxes each year.


How To Fill Out W4


Generally, a new employee will fill out a W4 form when they first begin at a job. But you can also change your W4 at any time if you change your mind about the withholdings you do or don’t want on each paycheck.


You can download a free W4 tax form on the IRS website.


The most recent W4 comes with 5 sections and 5 steps to fill it out.


Step 1: Enter Personal Information


W4 Step 1: Enter Personal Information


(a) Fill out your first name and middle initial in the first box. Fill out your last name in the next box.


*Your name should match the name on your social security card. If it doesn’t contact SSA at (800) 772-1213 or visit the SSA website.


(b) Provide your social security number in the first box, your street address in the second box, and your city, town, state, and ZIP code in the third box.


(c) In this section of step 1 there is a box with three options you can choose by marking the appropriate checkbox.


Here you will indicate how you file your taxes: single or married filing separately, married filing jointly or qualifying widower, or head of household.


You will only fill out the following steps (steps 2 through 4) if they apply to you. If they do not apply to you, then skip to step 5 and leave steps 2 through 4 empty.


Step 2: Multiple Jobs or Spouse Works


W4 Step 2: Multiple Jobs or Spouse Works


You will fill out this step only if you have more than 1 job or if you’re married, filing taxes jointly, and your spouse also works.


Basically, if your household income includes more than 1 job between you and your partner then fill out this step.


You will need to submit a W4 form for each job you do. Then, fill out steps 2 through 4(b) only for the highest paying job you have.


The information found in step 2 of the W4 form helps you know how to calculate the right amount of withholdings for your household if you have a multi-income household.


(c) Mark the box found in substep C of step 2 if there are only 2 jobs total in your household.


The next 2 steps (steps 3 through 4) will need to be filled out for only one of your jobs.


If you are exempt from withholding you will write the word “exempt” in this step.


Step 3: Claim Dependents


W4 Step 3: Claim Dependents


If you have a total income of $200,000 or less as a single filer or $400,000 or less as a joint filer then you will fill out this section.


This W4 section includes 3 dollar boxes for different monetary amounts.


The first dollar amount should be the number of qualifying children you have under the age of 17 multiplied by $2,000.


For example:


2 (number of children I have under the age of 17) X $2,000 = $4,000


$4,000 is then what I would write in the first dollar box found in step 3.


The next dollar amount should be the number of all other dependents multiplied by $500.


For example:


2 (number of other dependents I have) X $4,000 = $8,000


$8,000 is then what I would write in the second dollar box.


In the third and final dollar box, you will write the total, adding the numbers calculated in the first 2 dollar boxes together.


For example:


$4,000 + $8,000 = $12,000


$12,000 is then what I would write in the third dollar box in step 3 of this form.


Step 4: Other Adjustments


W4 Step 4: Other Adjustments


This step is optional. You only need to fill out this step if you want to.


On the old W4 form, this section was where you’d mark the number of allowances you need. Since the IRS got rid of this step, it’s been replaced with these estimated monetary figures.


(a) In this dollar box you will write the amount of other income you expect to make this year.


(b) In this dollar box you will do some calculations to find what your other deductions would be if you wanted to include more than the standard deductions. Use the Step 4(b)—Deductions Worksheet found on page 4 of the W4 form to calculate this number.


W4 Step 4(b)—Deductions Worksheet


(c) Here you will enter any other extra withholdings you want to be withheld from each paycheck.


Step 5: Sign Here


W4 Step 5: Sign Here


Now we are back to the steps that everyone will fill out.


In this section you, as the employee, will sign your name, validating the W4 form. Without your signature, the W4 form is not valid, so don’t forget to sign!


When you sign this form you are also stating that “under penalties of perjury, [you] declare that this certificate, to the best of [your] knowledge and belief, is true, correct, and complete.”


Don’t forget to also include the date you signed on the dateline beside your signature. Then you’re done!


The rest of step 5 is for your employer to fill out so don’t write in the Employers Only section of step 5.


What are W4 Exemptions?


In step 2, section C of the W4 form (as outlined above) you can write the word “exempt” if you are exempt from federal tax withholdings. This means that you won’t pay federal income tax through your paychecks during the year.


In order to file exempt on your W4, you’ll need to meet certain requirements. You can file exempt if you expect to have no tax liability during the year. This might happen if you didn’t make enough income to actually owe income tax the previous year, and you expect the same to occur the following year as well.


How Many Allowances Should I Claim?


Setting the number of W4 allowances you want was a part of the old W4 form. The newest W4 form no longer has this question about withholding allowances where you need to determine a set number.


What is Different About the W4 2020 Form?


You can find out more about the changes to the W4 tax form under FAQs on the 2020 Form W-4 on the IRS website. But essentially, the IRS wanted to simplify the form and make your life easier.


They removed the complicated worksheets from the form. Now there are straightforward questions that are easy to understand and easy to answer so filling out your W4 is quick and painless.


There is also no more “how many allowances” question on the new W4 form. Instead, you only write the estimated dollar amount of allowances you need in step 4. You can calculate these numbers with the help of the worksheet found on page 3 of the W4 form.


Do I Need to Fill Out a New W4?


If you filled out a W4 for your job before the year 2020 then you do not need to fill out a new w4 form. Your employer can continue to use the same W4 you turned into them at the start of your job.


If you want to change something about your tax withholdings at your job, then you can fill out a new W4 form with the correct withholdings information on it and turn that into your employer to replace the older form. Otherwise filling out a new W4 form is usually unnecessary.


written by Kimber Severance, Check City Finance Writer

What is a Tax Return?


What is a tax return, how do they work, and how are they different from a tax refund? Find out all this and more in Check City’s complete guide to tax returns.

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Tax Returns vs Tax Refunds


Though these terms are often used interchangeably, they do have different meanings.


A tax return is a document (or documents) that a person files with the IRS to report on how much they’ve earned and paid in taxes that year.


A tax refund is a payment from the IRS for the amount a person overpaid in taxes that year.


The return is when you file your taxes and the refund comes after you’ve filed your taxes and after the IRS sees you are eligible for a refund.


What is an Income Tax Return?


It is a report that taxpayers send to the IRS at the beginning of each year. This report outlines the total earnings and taxes you’ve paid the year before.


So the files you send to the IRS in 2021 will have information about your income and taxes in the year 2020. Taxes are done this way so that a full year of earning income and paying income tax can complete before we handle the tax filing for that year.


Income tax is a government tax on your income. The government takes out a percentage from each paycheck you receive.


Income tax acts as a source of revenue for the government. It goes toward helping the government and other public services function.


What is a Tax Return?


It is a set of tax documents (like your W-2 or 1099) that are used to document and report your total earnings and taxes paid during the span of one year (usually the year prior to filing).


We file an income tax return each year because, depending on your tax bracket, you may have overpaid in taxes the previous year and are owed a refund, or you may have underpaid in taxes the previous year and need to settle your accounts with the IRS.


Filing allows taxpayers to settle their accounts with the IRS, including if the IRS owes you money back. They also take into account your special circumstances.


For instance, you might be liable to get more out of your tax refund if you own a business, have business expenses, or take care of dependents like your children, older parents, or sick relatives.


The information you provide in your tax documents will show all of this information to the IRS and help get you the refund you deserve.


What is a Tax Return Transcript?


A tax return transcript is a transcript or record of your taxes and past returns. Tax transcripts are sometimes used when a person needs to prove their income for a loan.


This transcript acts as a quick summary of the most important information from your previous tax returns. This is helpful when you need information from past taxes but you don’t want to weed through all those individual files. Your tax return transcript will usually go back about 3 years.


How Long to Keep Tax Returns


You should keep personal files of all your tax information for at least the last 3 years. But the IRS is able to initiate a tax audit for the past 6 years, so keeping these records for a minimum of 6 years will ensure you are prepared and informed.


Keep your tax information and files as organized as possible. Create a paper filing system that’s divided into years and yearly quarters.


You can also keep electronic files by scanning documents or using PDF editors to fill out tax information digitally. Then you can organize your digital tax documents into digital folders for each tax year.


How Long Does it Take to Get Tax Returns?


How long it takes to get your tax return back to you in the form of a tax refund depends on how you file and how you are set up to receive your refund.


The tax refund calendar below can help give you an idea for how long it will take you to get your refund.


Be advised that this tax refund schedule 2021 chart is an estimate based on previous tax seasons. For the most accuracy, check your tax refund status at Get Refund Status at




Paper Tax Return vs Electronic Tax Return


Your personal tax return schedule will also depend on you and the choice you make when filing. Usually, filing electronically and setting up direct deposit will be the quickest way to be done with taxes this year and get your refund.


Electronic filing and direct deposit refunds are usually the fastest to process. Just remember that these numbers are estimates. For the most accurate idea of how long it will take to get your tax return back, go to Get Refund Status at




Check City Tax Professionals File For You


Online tax services abound these days, making filing taxes a lot easier and faster. But many online tax preparation services don’t file your taxes for you. Instead they provide an easy to use online platform where you’ll have to fill out each form yourself.


What if tax preparation could be even easier? At Check City, it can. Come to any Check City with your tax information and our tax professionals will file your taxes for you.


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The Check City Tax Refund Advance | Get Your Refund ASAP


In one visit to Check City you can be completely done with taxes this year and get your tax refund early with the Check City Tax Refund Advance.


This financial product allows Check City to give you the funds you expect to receive this tax season sooner. Don’t wait to be done with taxes this year. Visit your local Check City and get your taxes filed and your tax refund today.




written by Kimber Severance, Check City Finance Writer

Where’s My Refund? The IRS Refund Schedule 2021


Stay on top of your taxes this year by filing early at your local Check City store.

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2021 Tax Schedule


Tax season can get confusing. There are taxes to file, refunds to receive, and so many dates to remember.


At Check City, we believe in making financial life as easy as possible, so we created a complete calendar guide for your tax refunds this year.


Tax season begins at the beginning of every new year. On January 1st, the IRS will start accepting mail-in tax returns.


But the IRS won’t necessarily be prepared to start receiving electronic tax returns until a little later in the year. This year the IRS will start accepting electronic tax returns on February 12th.


Below you’ll find a complete schedule for when to file your taxes, when they should be electronically filed, and when you can start expecting to receive your refund this tax season.


To stay updated on the different dates associated with this tax season go to When to File at or see the current IRS tax calendar in PDF form at Publication 509, Tax Calendars at




Tax Return Deadlines 2021


The most important things you can pull from the above tax season schedule are the tax return deadlines.




Tax Payment Deadlines


If you need to pay taxes then they are due on the following dates. You can pay your taxes to the IRS by going to and following the IRS’s instructions.


Tax payments work in the following way: each quarter of the year 2021, your taxes for the first quarter of 2020 will be due on April 15, 2021. Then, your taxes owed for the second quarter of 2020 will be due on June 15, 2021, and so on and so forth.




Tax Refund Schedule 2021 Chart


When tax season comes around many people start wondering when they can expect to get their tax refund. After a year of paying taxes, getting that tax refund on time can be really helpful at the beginning of each year.


To help you know when your tax refund will arrive we’ve created this helpful calendar with estimates for when tax filers might be able to expect their refunds.


Be advised that this tax refund schedule 2021 chart is an estimate based on previous tax seasons. For the most accuracy, check your tax refund status at Get Refund Status at




Paper Return vs Electronic Return


When you get your tax return will also depend on how you file taxes. Taxpayers can file their tax returns through the mail or electronically.


Taxes filed through the mail tend to take longer to process because they first have to get through the mail. Likewise, choosing to receive your return as a paper check in the mail will also take longer to process and get to you.


Filing your taxes electronically will be the quickest way to get your taxes filed and processed. Choosing to receive your refund electronically through direct deposit will also be the quickest way to get your tax refund.


Below is a table showing how long it generally takes for someone’s tax refund to deposit or show up in the mail depending on how they file taxes and how they receive their refund.


Be advised that these numbers are estimates based on previous tax seasons. To get the most accurate information on your personal tax refund status go to Get Refund Status at




My Tax Refund Status


You can check the status of your tax refund at any time on the IRS’s website. If your refund is taking longer than you would normally expect then a few things might have happened.


You might have imputed some information incorrectly and it needs fixing. If you made lots of claims on your tax return this year, then that can also make your tax refund take longer to process.


If you check your tax refund status and you get code, use this list of IRS Error And Reference Codes to find out what the code means.


Check City Tax Professionals File For You


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Taxes can be a big hassle, especially when your taxes include multiple tax documents, receipts, and claims.


There are many online services now that make filing your taxes a lot easier and quicker than mailing in your tax return. But many of these online tax filing services still involve you going through and filling out pages and pages of information before you’re ready to submit.


At Check City, you can hire a personal tax professional to go through those pages and pages of documents for you. All you have to do is visit your neighborhood Check City at any time of the year and our friendly tax professionals will file all of your taxes for you.


The Check City Tax Refund Advance | Get Your Refund ASAP




While you are letting Check City tax professionals take care of your tax filing for you, you can also apply for the Tax Refund Advance.


This is a financial product that allows Check City to give you the funds you expect to receive this tax season sooner. Don’t wait to be done with taxes this year. Visit your local Check City and get your taxes filed and your tax refund today.


written by Kimber Severance, Check City Copywriter

What is a Credit Score? Improve Your Credit With These Tips


Creditworthiness is a common factor in determining loan approval. So how can you improve your credit score to get the loans you need? Luckily we have a credit score chart and some credit score tips to help you out.

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Credit Scores Explained


Have you ever wondered how credit scores work? If you’ve never thought about it before, or if you’re currently looking for loans for bad credit, then credit scores can seem complicated and hard to understand. But, it’s actually very simple once you understand these credit score basics.


The purpose of credit scores is to help lenders make loan application decisions quickly and easily. This helps the loan application process go faster and smoother for both the borrower and the lender.


But what impacts your credit score? What determines someone’s creditworthiness? Your credit score is mainly determined by the following items found in your credit history:


  • Payment history
  • Length of credit history
  • Debts
  • Current debts and loans
  • Types of credit


There are also important things to know regarding credit pulls. There are soft credit pulls and hard credit pulls.


Soft Credit Pulls


Soft credit pulls are just as they sound, softer. They tend to have less impact on your credit history, score, or report. They only appear on your personal credit report but won’t be seen by businesses or lenders.


A soft pull might be initiated by someone else, not by you. Soft pulls also tend to have little or no impact on your credit score.


Hard Credit Pulls


A hard credit pull is also just as it sounds, harder. They tend to have more impact on your credit history, score, or report than a soft pull. Hard pulls usually show up on your credit history for businesses and lenders to see.


A hard pull is usually initiated by you when submitting some kind of application, usually for credit like a loan. Hard pulls also tend to have more impact on your credit score.


Subprime Loans


Subprime and prime are terms that refer to the range of rates for a loan.


Prime rates are some of the best loan rates, but they also come with more requirements to qualify for prime loans.


Subprime rates are higher rates but are generally attached to loans that are easier to qualify for and come with fewer requirements for acceptance.


What is a subprime loan?


Subprime loans and subprime lending is known by many names. It can also be called near-prime, subpar, non-prime, or second-chance lending. Subprime loans are designed for customers who have difficulty qualifying for premium loans that have higher application requirements like high credit scores.


If you are taking out a subprime loan then remember that your subprime credit report score is not the same thing as your FICO® score. Contact your lender directly for more details.


You can request a free credit report with Clarity Services.


What is a Bad Credit?


A bad credit score will depend on the consumer reporting company you are using. There are several consumer reporting agencies and each lender might use a different agency to check your credit score.


Credit Score Chart


Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian are 3 examples of major credit reporting agencies a lender might use. Many credit reporting bureaus also have different credit score ranges and systems set up for different industries.


Equifax Credit Score Range:


Equifax uses a number system from 300 to 850 to score creditworthiness. 300 is the poorest score and 850 is the best score.

equifax credit score chart

  • Poor: 300–579
  • Fair: 580–669
  • Good: 670–739
  • Very Good: 740–799
  • Excellent: 800–850


TransUnion Credit Score Range:


TransUnion uses a grading system from A to F to grade creditworthiness. This grading system is based on a number system from 300 to 850.

transunion credit score chart

  • Grade A: 781–850
  • Grade B: 720–780
  • Grade C: 658–719
  • Grade D: 601–657
  • Grade F: 300–600


Experian Credit Score Range:


Experian uses a similar number range to Equifax.

experian credit score chart

  • Very Poor: 300-579
  • Fair: 580-669
  • Good: 670-739
  • Very Good: 740-799
  • Exceptional: 800-850


Remember that different lenders use different credit reporting agencies. Ask your preferred lender about where you should get your credit report from for the best results.


What is a Good Credit Score?


So how does someone get bad credit? Well, there are a few things that could be happening to give you a bad score.


Some things that cause low credit scores is when someone . . .


  • doesn’t make on-time payments
  • they have more debt than they can afford
  • they default on a loan
  • or if they have filed for bankruptcy


When getting a loan for bad credit, these negative marks on your credit history may not matter as much. Otherwise, you’ll want to fix these problems in your credit history before seeking a loan.


These items decrease someone’s credit score because they tell lenders that you might be at a higher risk of defaulting or making late payments on a loan if they decide to lend to you.


Likewise, you can increase your credit score and your chances of getting the loan you want by fixing these same issues.


  • Make payments on time
  • Keep your debt-to-income ratio at a safe level
  • Avoid defaulting on loans
  • Avoid bankruptcy


Taking full control of your finances, budgeting effectively, and preparing for financial emergencies ahead of time can all help you avoid these negative credit marks and keep your credit score high.


How to Improve Credit Score


Even before shopping for a loan, it’s a good idea to check your credit history for yourself. That way you can have an idea of the kinds of loans you can qualify for before you start applying.


Checking your credit score yourself, before you apply, can also help you catch any mistakes on your credit history so those can be corrected before the lender pulls their own credit check.


Here are some of the main steps you want to take before taking out a loan:


Step 1: Get a copy of your credit history and do a self-audit.


Go through your credit history and make sure there aren’t any errors that need correcting before you start applying for loans.


You should check your credit report carefully for accounts you did not open, inquiries from creditors you didn’t initiate, and any other errors or discrepancies you might find.


You can get a credit report for free at or by calling 1-877-322-8228, toll-free.


If you find something on your credit report that you do not understand, call the credit agency.


Step 2: Make sure nothing is missing on your credit report.


If you have an instance that should be helping boost your credit and you can’t find it on your credit report, contact the credit reporting agency to get it sorted out.


Certain things help give people good credit:


  • Making payments on time
  • Paying off a loan


When you have good credit actions in your personal finances you want to make sure those actions are being counted in your favor on your credit report.


They are all instances that will boost your score and show potential lenders that you are a low-risk customer who knows how to pay their bills on time.


Credit can be your friend or your foe depending on how well you use it:


Make payments on time, make sure on-time payments are being counted on your credit history.


If you need help establishing a good credit history you may consider paying for groceries each week with a credit card. Then at the end of the week pay off the credit card balance.


In Conclusion,


It’s necessary to use credit to build credit, but if you aren’t careful, credit use can also be the very thing that weakens your score.


But when you know how to use credit to your advantage, you can build up a high credit score and watch as more financial opportunities open up to you.


written by Kimber Severance, Check City Copywriter

What is a Tax Refund Advance?


Don’t wait to get your tax refund. Instead, finish your taxes and get your refund all at once!

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What is a Tax Refund Advance?


A tax refund advance is a type of loan. Instead of waiting to get your tax refund, you can take out a refund advance and see those funds sooner. The collateral or loan security for a refund advance is your tax refund from the IRS.


The Refund Advance is an optional tax-refund related loan (it is not the actual tax refund) provided by MetaBank® at participating locations.


Instead of waiting for your tax refund to deposit into your account or arrive in the mail, you can set up a tax refund advance with Check City and get your money right away.




How Do Tax Refund Advances Work?


The loan amount and applicable interest is deducted from tax refunds and reduces the tax refund amount paid directly to the taxpayer.


Basically, customers can take out a loan with Check City and set up to repay the loan with their incoming tax refund. Rates and fees may apply.


Check City also offers tax filing or tax preparation services where you can file your taxes year-round. Tax returns may be filed electronically without applying for this loan.


Step 1: Visit a local Check City Store. No appointment is necessary.


Step 2: Bring your W2’s, Photo ID, Social Security Cards for you and all your dependents, and any other important tax documents like 1099s. If you are wishing to itemize your taxes, bring your 1098 (home mortgage), medical bills, charitable donations, and non-reimbursed employee expenses. If you are self-employed bring any receipts and expenses for your business.


Step 3: File your taxes and if you want, apply for a tax refund advance as well.


How to Qualify for a Tax Refund Advance


Tax loans are based on your anticipated refund amount from the IRS. This means that qualifying for a tax loan depends mostly on your anticipated refund, the amount you can expect to receive, and your status with the IRS.


Tax refund advances are a helpful loan because you don’t necessarily need a bank account or an exceptional credit score for loan approval.


Where to Get Tax Refund Advance Loans


Tax loans can often be found where tax preparation services are offered. In fact, tax loans from a tax preparation service can be easy and hassle-free, because your tax filing and tax return loan can be handled all at the same place with the same people.


A company that files your taxes will also know what your projected tax return will actually be. They are a trustworthy service that will know how much you can afford to receive in a tax return loan.


Because Check City can also file your taxes for you, customers can rest assured their tax return projections, and thus their offered tax return loan amounts are dependable.


Reasons to Get a Tax Refund Advance


There are many reasons to get a tax refund advance. It’s a secure loan type, it can let you get your tax return money sooner, and the process goes hand-in-hand with getting your taxes filed and taken care of too!


It’s a Secure Loan


When you take out a tax return loan, it is usually less than the tax return you are expecting to get. That means that the loan amount will be paid back entirely once your tax return does go through. There is even a possibility you’ll still receive some leftover money from your return once your loan is repaid.


Tax return advances are a secure loan option because the loan repayment is already scheduled.


Get Your Refund Sooner


If you usually receive your tax return in the mail, then you could be getting your return money faster than if you waited for the check to arrive in your mailbox.


If you set up an electronic payment, then you can potentially get your refund advance within 24 hours after filing.


By getting a tax refund advance, you can potentially get your taxes filed and receive your tax return all in one simple process.


Tax Refund Advances at Check City


At Check City, you can take care of all your tax service needs without having to schedule an appointment in advance. Just visit any of our stores with the documents you need and our friendly tax preparers will help you file your taxes on time this year.


If you want, you can also apply for a refund loan from Check City and get your tax refund money sooner.


What are the tax preparation fees?


Our tax preparation fees start as low as $29.95 for the 1040 form. This price includes electronic filing of both federal and state taxes.


Additional fees are charged for any other forms needed to complete the tax return. Go into a store near you for a free estimate.


Do I have to pay the tax preparation fees upfront?


No, you don’t have to pay the tax preparation fees upfront.


Our tax preparation services allow us to deduct our preparation fees directly from your federal tax return so that you don’t have to pay anything upfront.


How soon can I get my tax refund advance?


You can usually receive the e-advance loan within 24 hours.


Find Tax Services Near You


Tax preparation services are a great way to easily get your taxes done on time. By using tax services near you, you can experience a more efficient and easier tax filing process.


Make this tax season a little easier this year by visiting your neighborhood Check City and letting our family help yours.


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Find Tax Refund Advances Near You


When you need an emergency loan, you can’t always afford to wait too long. Luckily, Check City offers quick tax refund cash advances so you can use your refund money sooner rather than later.


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In Conclusion,


Not everyone can afford to wait for their needed funds to come in the mail. That’s where an easy to use tax refund advance comes into play.


Use Check City’s tax services and experience an easy and stress-free tax filing and filing your return process.



Sources “Where’s My Refund?”


written by Kimber Severance, Check City Copywriter

What is an Installment Loan?


Installment loans are incremental loans that allow borrowers to make regular payments rather than pay back the loan all at once.

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What is an Installment Loan?


The word “installment” in “installment loan” refers to the way a borrower repays a loan. Installments are incremental payments a borrower uses to pay back an installment loan.


For example, a borrower might receive their installment loan all at once in one lump sum. But they’ll pay the loan back in smaller monthly payments over the course of however many months are outlined in the official loan agreement.


With a repayment plan, borrowers can get their loan money all at once and pay it back in smaller, easier to manage increments.


How Do Installment Loans Work?


Step 1: Fill out an application with a lender that provides installment loans. This application may include personal information like contact information, address, or repayment abilities.


Step 2: Discuss with the lender the type of loan you wish to receive. They will help you navigate how much you can afford to borrow, rates and fees associated with the loan, and the payment plan.


The terms and conditions of the loan will depend on your meeting the lender’s application requirements.


Step 3: The borrower will receive the loan funds in one lump sum. If the installment loan is for a specific purpose (like buying a car, buying a home, or consolidating debts) then the loan funds might go directly to the car seller, the home seller, or the debt collectors.




Types of Installment Loans


Installment loans are a very common loan type. This means that even if you’ve never heard of this term, you probably know more about it than you realize. Many loans can also be considered installment loans if they include a similar type of repayment plan.




This loan type is used to buy a house. It can help home buyers pay for their home all at once with a mortgage loan and then repay that loan over a period of years in smaller increments.


So if you want to buy a home, but you don’t want to wait until you’ve saved the money necessary to pay for a home’s sale price upfront, then you can take out a mortgage instead.


Personal Loans


This loan type can be used for many different purposes. You could take out a personal loan to consolidate debt, pay medical bills, or pay rent.


Some personal loan funds are given directly to the borrower to use as they see fit, instead of being paid directly to debt collectors or car dealerships.


Auto Loans


This loan type uses the value of your car as security against a loan. Usually, the value of your car is what determines the loan amount a borrower can get.


Another type of car loan is the type of loan you get to help pay for a car. Instead of waiting to save up all the money you’d need to pay for a car, you can finance your vehicle with a car loan you pay in installments over time.


Student Loans


This type of loan is taken out by students to help pay for college tuition, rent, books, or other college-related expenses. Some student loans also allow students to wait to start repaying the loans until after they’ve finished school. But these terms will, of course, depend on the student loan provider.


Best Installment Loans


Whenever you are shopping for a financial product, it’s important to do your research to make sure you’re getting the best service for you.


As a financial product, installment loans can come with many benefits of their own. Here are a few characteristics that make up some of the best installment loans.


No Credit Check


Do you have bad credit or no credit? It can be really hard to qualify for a loan when you have a poor credit history. Different lenders will have different requirements for the credit scores of their loan applicants. Contact your preferred lender to better understand what credit requirements they have.


Direct Lender


Whatever lender you use, it’s a good idea to make sure they are a direct lender. This means the institution lends to its borrowers directly, rather than merely setting up loans for customers with third-party lenders.


Online and In-Store Options


Some people might prefer to apply for a loan in-person while other people might prefer to apply online. Whichever you are, it’s nice to know you’re working with a lender who cares about customer preferences and makes their products easy to use both online and in stores.


Quick Approval


Sometimes loans are needed for emergency situations. You might need to pay bills or pay to fix your car so you can drive to work. Emergencies like this can sometimes happen at the worst possible times.


When you’re in a financial pinch, you can look into installment loans to help you spread payments out so you can get the funds you need without having to repay a loan all at one time.


Secured vs Unsecured Installment Loans


Another word for loan security is collateral. Loan security or collateral loan is the method or the asset used to lower the lender’s risk in giving out the loan.


Installment loans can come with or without collateral depending on the lender. But loans that aren’t backed by any collateral might come with higher fees or interest rates.


What counts as collateral for an installment loan will depend on the lender and what types of collateral they accept. For instance, a borrower might be able to use the value of their car title to get a loan, a high credit score, or even a savings account.


Advantages of Installment Loans


There are many advantages to getting an installment loan. This loan type can be easier to pay off because the loan is broken down into easier to pay installments rather than one large chunk.


Payment Plan


When making large purchases it can be relieving to know a payment plan is available. That way, you can spend a smaller amount of money each month for a period of months instead of spending all the money necessary all at once.


Smaller Payments


Incremental payments can make a big purchase far less daunting than if you were to pay it all at once. A smaller, monthly payment can be much easier for your wallet to handle than one large payment.


Don’t Wait to Save


If you don’t have the money you need to pay for something now, then odds are you’ll have to wait and save up for it. But with an incremental loan, you can buy the things you need sooner instead of waiting to save up.


This can be especially helpful when you need money for essential things like your home, your car, bills, or other important purchases.


Disadvantages of Installment Loans


There are also disadvantages to any loan type. It’s important to talk with a loan representative about the loan options available to you before making a final decision.


Making Repayments for a Long Time


Remember that getting a loan doesn’t just get you the money you need right now. Those funds also have to be repaid. Make sure you understand the repayment plan outlined in your loan agreement so you know it’ll work with your budget.


Payments Can Add Onto Other Monthly Payments


Many lenders consider repayment ability before accepting a loan application. But no one knows your financial situation better than yourself. Take a good look at your monthly expenses before signing a loan agreement to make sure this added monthly payment is doable for you.


Waiting to Save Can be Better in the Long Term


Even though saving up takes time, it can be worth it in the long term. Try sitting down and weigh your personal pros and cons between waiting to save up and getting the funds you need now. Only you can make the best decision for your household’s finances.


Payday Loans vs Installment Loans


Payday loans often have a much shorter repayment period than installment loans. Payday loans are also often paid back all at once on a borrower’s next pay date.


Installment loans can come with longer repayment periods and have regular payments rather than a plan for the borrower to repay the loan all at once. This can also mean customers can borrow more when taking out an installment loan.


All loan terms will depend on your state and the specific lender you are using. Contact the lender you wish to use for more details about their loan options.


In Conclusion,


Installment loans are a loan product that comes with a repayment plan. This repayment plan can make paying back a loan easier for borrowers with smaller monthly payments rather than a larger, one-time payment.


That being said, which loan product would be best for you is entirely up to you and your personal financial citation and preferences. Talk directly with a loan representative whenever you have questions.


written by Kimber Severance, Check City Copywriter

What is a Prepaid Card?


Have you ever used a prepaid card? If not you might be missing out on a great money management tool.

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Prepaid cards are a great financial asset. They can help card users better budget their money and stay within that budget. They also make great gift cards or practice cards for kids on an allowance.


At Check City, we are proud to offer great cards to our customers. Visit any of our locations in order to pick one up today!


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What is a Prepaid Card?


They are an alternative option for traditional debit cards. They are great because you don’t need a checking account from a bank to use one.


Instead of keeping your money in an account that your debit card has access to, you can just load your money directly onto your card.


You can purchase these cards from many places too, like Check City stores. Reload your card whenever you need to at Check City stores as well.


How Do Prepaid Cards Work?


These cards are extremely easy to use. They are a lot like a gift card and debit card wrapped into one.


Purchase your card from a store that sells them. When you buy the card you’ll also put your first monetary amount onto the card. Now that money is on the card you can use it anywhere that accepts the type of card you have (whether that is a prepaid Visa card or Mastercard).


Once your funds are gone, you can visit a store that offers card reloading services and put more funds on the card.


Keep in mind that there might be fees involved when buying a new card or reloading funds onto a card.


How Do Prepaid Visa Cards Work?


Debit card issuers are usually Visa or Mastercards. Different places will sometimes only accept one or the other type of card for payment.


At Check City, you can get a Prepaid Visa Card!


How to Get a Prepaid Card


Getting a card is easy to do. All you have to do is visit a nearby store location that offers this type of card and purchase one. And no application is necessary!


First, you should be sure that a prepaid card is going to be a good financial decision. There are some charges and fees you’ll want to be aware of first.


Before you buy, ask for a list of charges and fees associated with that card. For example, some cards will charge you for each reload or for ATM withdrawals.


After you have a list of the costs, compare these costs to your checking account. If you do not have a checking account, you can compare it to your current payment method costs.


Second, you should be sure that the card is going to be convenient for you. If you are hassling with cash for each of your payments, you may find that a debit card is a lot easier to manage.


Finally, make sure that you understand the tools and features that come with the card. You want to make sure you are taking full advantage of all the card’s features.


Take time making your decision. This way, you can be sure that you have the type of card that is going to work the best for your situation. Then, you will be happy with the form of payment that you use on a daily basis.


Reasons to Use Reloadable Prepaid Cards


Prepaid debit cards are a great tool and can be used in so many different ways. Whether you are trying to practice good budgeting habits, or need a reliable card for you and your family, this reloadable card is a great solution.




Reloadable cards are incredibly convenient. You can enjoy all the convenience of a debit card without needing a checking account.


You can carry around a small, simple card instead of bulky cash and change. You also don’t have to double-check how much cash you have on you before going out. Instead, you can safely carry all your cash on a simple card.


Save Time


Save time on each purchase by swiping with a card instead of counting out cash and change. With one easy swipe, you can quickly and efficiently complete your purchases and move on with your day.


Easy Budgeting


They can also help with budgeting. Deposit a certain amount each month, and have the certainty that you will not overspend. Reloadable cards only let you use the amount that’s on it. So you won’t run the risk of accidentally spending more than your budget allows and paying high overdraft fees.


Another helpful tip for how to budget with money loaded onto the card is to use different cards for different purchases. Divide the different sections of your budget into separate cards. That way you can only spend the money you budgeted on each category.


Easy to Use


Reloadable cards are easy to use. You can get them without a credit check and without a checking account. The terms and conditions are straightforward when you open an account for a reloadable card too. Reload them easily at any Check City location and use them just as you would any other card.


Pay Bills On Time


Making on-time bill payments each month can be hard. Sticking to a budget is the best solution to this problem and prepaid cards can help you do just that.


Set aside money for bills on one of your reloadable cards each month and only use that card and that money to pay bills. This way, you’ll know the money is safely tucked away in an organized and secure place. Then your money for bills will also be waiting for you in an easy to use card each month.


Teach Children Financial Responsibility


Today there are many different ways to give money to your children. Some more efficient than others. One of the most efficient and safest ways is a prepaid card.


Having their own card is a lot easier and more convenient than letting them borrow your card.


A prepaid debit card is very convenient during an emergency when your children may need some extra money and you aren’t close to them.


Prepaid debit cards can be a great way to teach your children how to budget. Track and go over their purchases with them each month to help teach them smart money-management habits.


By using a prepaid debit card, you are putting a cap on their spending. They cannot go over that limit. They will have to learn how to budget their money, and you don’t have to worry about them going over budget.


Gift Money


Trying to find a gift for a friend? A prepaid card is a very fast and easy way to do that. One of the many benefits of a prepaid debit card is gift-giving. You can load funds onto these cards which are then used and drawn from until the card is depleted.


Since the account used is self-contained, you don’t have to worry about other people interfering. Resulting in a secure method of giving money. Giving cash or a gift card carries risk with the person losing it or only being allowed to use it in one place.


Keep Travel Money Safe and on Budget


Prepaid cards are one of the best ways to keep your money safe while traveling. If your card is stolen then you only lose what is on the card, not everything in your bank account. This way you can control the amount of damage.


You will also be able to ensure that your payment methods are safe. You can use your card anywhere without fear that you’re accidentally giving access to your entire bank account.


Give yourself an easier and more streamlined experience for your travel budget by sticking to a reloadable card for all your travel expenses.


Account Security


Another benefit to using a prepaid card is the fact that you can use it as a primary way of spending without needing to worry about account security. You can use a card for all your transactions, and then transfer funds into it as needed.


This way, you will not need to worry about identity theft if the card is misplaced or stolen. As the account is self-contained to the amount on the card, it cannot really be utilized to farm further funds from you if stolen.


How to Reload Funds on a Netspend Debit Card


Step 1: Visit a local Check City location.


Step 2: Give the teller the Netspend card you want to reload and the funds you want to put on the card.


Step 3: The teller will reload your card for you and your funds will be available on the card right away.


In Conclusion,


Whether you are gifting money to someone else or you would like to have a more theft-proof account for your own purposes, these cards make it easy to pay for things without worry.


written by Kimber Severance, Check City Copywriter

What is a Collateral Loan?


Getting approved for a loan can be difficult when you don’t have a great credit score. Luckily, there are other forms of collateral you can use to secure a loan.

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What is a Collateral Loan?


In order to understand collateral loans, how they work, and how you can use them, you need to understand,


What is Collateral?


Collateral is a personal asset when it is being used as financial security. For example, you might need to use something you own that has monetary worth in order to secure a loan.


These types of loans are called collateral loans. Auto loans are the most common type of collateral loan.


If you own your car completely (meaning you aren’t still paying for the car), then you can use your car’s title to secure a loan.


This helps lenders mitigate the risks of lending money to their customers. It also makes it easier for borrowers with low credit scores to get the loans they need.


Secured Loan vs Unsecured Loan


When a loan has a type of security attached to it (like the title of your car or a high credit score) then it is also known as a secured loan.


When a loan doesn’t have any type of security attached to it, then it’s known as an unsecured loan. The risks the lender takes on when issuing an unsecured loan are higher because the chances the borrower will fail to repay the loan are higher.


Pros and Cons of Secured Loans vs Unsecured Loans:

  • Unsecured loans usually have much higher interest rates and fees
  • Secured loans include using your own property or assets to secure the loan


Types of Secured Loans:

  • Personal loans
  • Title loans
  • Mortgage
  • Pawn loans


Types of Unsecured Loans:

  • Signature loans
  • Student loans
  • Credit cards


How Do Collateral Loans Work?


In order to get a loan that’s backed by collateral, there are a few things you’ll need to do.


First, you need to own the property you want to use as collateral outright. You can’t use your personal property as loan security if you don’t own it completely.


If you are still paying off another loan on your house or your car, then you can’t use that asset as collateral.


Second, you have to find a lender that offers collateral loans. Check City is one of those lenders. At Check City, you can take out a collateral loan on your vehicle.


Once you get approved for the loan, you’ll sign the papers and allow the lender to take out a lien on your property.


What is a Lien?


A lien is a partial ownership of personal property given to lenders when securing certain types of loans.


Reasons to Get a Collateral Loan


Why would someone want this type of loan? There are many advantages. The main reason is to get a loan for bad credit.


Loans that are backed against a personal asset are less likely to need a perfect credit history from borrowers because the loan’s security is tied up with a personal resource instead. Just remember, if you fail to pay back the loan or fail to make payments on time, this will still negatively impact your credit score.


People need loans for many reasons every year. A survey found that in the past year as many as 114.4 million people in the US took out personal loans.


Personal loans are taken out for many reasons. They can help pay bills, pay for groceries, consolidate debts, fix your car, pay medical bills, renovate part of your house, or even help pay for a wedding.


Collateral Loan Examples


If something you own has monetary value, then there is a possibility it can be used to secure a loan that’s backed with collateral.


Your assets have worth and that worth can be used to your advantage when you need to borrow money.


Savings Account:


If you have a savings account that meets a lender’s requirements, you might be able to use it to secure a loan. The idea is that the funds in your savings account are security to back up the loan in the case you have trouble repaying the loan.


Having an adequate savings account also lets the lender know you have the ability to repay the loan, which strengthens your chances of getting the loan approved.


Residential Mortgages:


A residential mortgage usually refers to the type of loan someone gets in order to buy a house. When you sign up for a residential mortgage loan, you allow the lender to have a lien on the house you buy until you finish paying off your mortgage.


This type of loan is tying the property you are purchasing to the loan taken out to pay for the property.


Allowing lenders to have a lien


Home Equity Loans:


Home equity loans let you use the equity or financial worth in your real estate property to help get a loan.


If you have a house or a mortgage, there’s a possibility you can use it to apply for additional loans. Your home is a major asset with lots of lucrative value. In general, real estate property is a huge financial resource.


These loans can include single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums, multi-family homes, and even mobile homes. It all depends on the terms and conditions set up by your home equity loan lender.


Margin Trading:


Margin trading is a finance term in investing and stocks. A margin is an extension of credit so that someone can trade on the stock market even though they don’t have the funds required.


By using margin trading, you can trade and invest more than you could by yourself. These investments can then be enough to cover your credit and more so you still see a great profit.


The major disadvantage of using margin trading is if the investments don’t pay off or if you lose money because now you will owe the investment funds you borrowed as credit.


Car Title Loans:


Car Title Loans are the most common type of collateral loan. They work by allowing lenders to take out a lien on your vehicle. This means that the lender’s name is on the title of the car during the loan term. This will allow them to take your car away in the event you fail to repay the loan.


But lenders don’t want to possess your car. They want borrowers to successfully pay back their loans. Repossessing a vehicle is only a last resort that lenders will generally only use when no other option is available. Ideally, they’re going to make more of a profit if they can help their customers pay back their loans.


How to Get a Collateral Loan at Check City




To get a Title Loan from Check City, all you need to do is bring a few items to your neighborhood Check City location.


Bring These Items:

  • Your vehicle and title
  • Proof of registration
  • Your photo ID
  • Ability to repay


Once you have these items you can fill out a title loan application online, at a store, or over the phone at (800) 404-0254.




All you have to do after that is wait for your application to get approved and for the Title loan funds to come your way.


In Conclusion,


When you need funds you need them fast and you need them from a lender you know you can trust.


Check City takes the trust and privacy of our customers very seriously. At Check City, you can find security in knowing your working with licensed lenders who are here for you.



The Balance. “Collateral Loans,” by Justin Pritchard, “The Basics of Trading on Margin,” by John Russell.

Investopedia. “Loan Basics: Collateral,” by Julia Kagan.

finder. “Personal loans statistics,” by Anna Serio.


written by Kimber Severance, Check City Copywriter

What is a Money Order and How Do They Work?

counting money

Money orders are a great way to make purchases and pay bills regardless of whether you have a checking account or not.

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Some people do not understand how useful this financial tool can be.


They are an extremely useful money management tool that can help people send and receive money safely and successfully.


Additionally, if you don’t have a checking account, an order can be the most secure way to send money to someone else.


What is a Money Order?


They are similar to checks. They are a paper document that can be used as a form of payment. The main difference is that money orders are paid for in advance while checks are not.


Checks are a paper document allowing the recipient to take money from your account. Money orders are a paper document saying that money has already been taken out by the money order provider and is ready to be received right away.


Go to Get Western Union Money Orders from Check City.


Money Order vs Checks


Though they are very similar, there are some key differences between money orders and checks.


Money Orders Are More Immediate Than Checks


Money orders are paid for in advance while checks are paid for on a later date when the check receiver finally gets around to cashing the check.


But money orders are paid for in full the moment someone purchases them.


Since money orders are prepaid, those funds leave your account the moment you purchase the money order.


But checks are not prepaid.


When you use a check, the check funds aren’t taken out of your account until the check receiver manually deposits or cashes the check.


Money Orders Are More Secure Than Checks


Money orders are often a preferred form of payment because they are more secure.


Part of what makes them so secure is that they are a prepaid form of payment.


Since they are prepaid, the receiver will have their funds right away and the sender won’t have to wait for those funds to get pulled from their account.


It’s also very difficult for the wrong person to cash a money order. When you take out a money order you outline who should receive the money so only the correct recipient can cash that money order.


How Do Money Orders Work?



Many people are already familiar with checks and how checks work. But are you familiar with how to use a money order?


If not, have no fear.


The process is incredibly simple and will leave you with a more secure and more immediate payment option in the future.


Find a Money Order Location


First, you have to find a location that offers this financial product.


You can find this financial service at financial institutions and at some grocery stores and supermarkets.


Check City is an agent location with Western Union and offers Western Union money orders.


Find a Check City Store Near You to purchase a money order today!


Be Prepared


Don’t forget to bring what you need to send and receive money through a Western Union agent location.


Whether you’re purchasing a money order or receiving one, there are a few things you’ll want to have with you and some information you’ll need to have handy.


A form of payment. You can use cash or a debit card.


The name of the person or organization receiving the money.


The amount of money you want to send.


Valid government-issued identification may be required.


Fill Out the Money Order


Filling out an order is very similar to filling out a regular paper check.


There are only 5 sections you’ll need to fill out.

  1. The “pay to the order of line.” This line is for the person or company you are sending the money order to.
  2. The “payment for” or “account number” line. This line is optional. Some people use money orders to pay bills. On this line, you can put your account number to make sure whatever bill you have gets paid to the correct account.
  3. The “purchaser’s address” line. This line is for your contact information.
  4. The “purchaser’s signature.” This line is for your signature.
  5. The dollar box. This section is for you to write down the amount of money you want to put on the order.


For more details on filling out orders, go to How To Fill Out A Money Order.


Track Your Order


When you purchase an order you’ll get a receipt. Make sure to keep the receipt in a safe place.


This receipt has all the basic information about the order, including a tracking number.


Go to Track Your Money Transfer at and type in your tracking number or MTCN.




After you click continue you can track your order to make sure it gets where it needs to go safely.


If you send an order in the mail, you should request a mail tracking number so you can keep tabs on the envelope.


How Much Does a Money Order Cost?


Just like many financial services, money orders come with some rates and fees.


If you send the money by mail, then you might also have to pay for postage, extra tracking precautions, mail security, and any other mailing services.


The cost of a money order will vary slightly depending on where you go to get the money order.


Some places also have maximum or minimum limits on the funds you can put on one order.


You can always call a financial institution first, or visit their website, to find out their rates and fees before you use them.


What Are Money Orders Used For?


There are many instances where this financial service can be useful.


Being able to both send and receive secure payments is really important. Especially when those payments are important like rent and utility bills.


Send a Secure Payment


If you really need to make sure a payment goes through, send the funds through a money order.


You’ll be able to make the payment immediately and you’ll ensure the payment receiver has those funds right away.


Receive a Secure Payment


If you are expecting a payment and want to make it extra secure, ask the payee to send you a money order. That way you’ll receive the payment the moment you get the money order.


Don’t Have a Checking Account


Not having a checking account makes transferring money more difficult. If someone doesn’t have any online bank accounts, then they can’t send funds electronically.


Every year the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) comes out with new survey reports about the finances of US households. In 2019, they found that around 7.1 million US households didn’t have bank accounts.


All of these people still need a safe way to send and receive money. Money orders are one of the primary ways unbanked people can send and receive money securely.


Avoid Carrying Cash


If someone doesn’t have a bank account then they also don’t have checks or debit cards. This makes it difficult to make large purchases without carrying large amounts of cash.


Carrying a lot of cash on you can be dangerous and insecure. If you get robbed or lose that cash there is little that can be done to get that money back.


Money orders are protected from theft because only the intended recipient can cash or deposit them. If you lose a money order you can contact Western Union and cancel it.


So if you need to make a big purchase, but you don’t want to carry lots of cash with you, get a money order instead.


Money orders are accepted by almost any business. You can also use money orders at the bank or any government agency.


Send Money Safely Through the Mail


Many people purchase money orders when they need to send money through the mail.


Sending cash through the mail isn’t the safest way to send money to someone. If someone sees that an envelope contains cash, there’s a higher risk of it getting stolen.


But money orders are just a regular piece of paper that can safely go unnoticed and are harder for thieves to successfully cash.


Avoid Bounced Checks and Overdraft Fees


One of the biggest downsides to using checks is that the payments don’t fall right away.


Instead, you have to wait on another person or organization to get around to processing the check for those funds to come out of your account.


When you live on a tight budget, this wait can really upset your financial plans for the month.


By using a money order instead of a check, you can avoid bounced checks and overdrafts on your account because the money will get taken out of your account immediately instead of later.


Where Can I Get A Money Order

money order store building at check city


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The most common place to get a money order is at a financial institution, like a bank or credit union, or at some major stores like Walmart.


Any Western Union location or Western Union Agent location will have the ability to send and receive money orders.


Check City is an agent location with Western Union. Click on your state below and get connected with your local Check City store. Our representatives are friendly and ready to help our customers get the financial services they need.


In Conclusion,


Money orders are a key financial tool for many people. If you haven’t already used a money order, you might be missing out on some great benefits.

Sources “How America Banks: Household Use of Banking and Financial Services.


written by Kimber Severance, Check City Copywriter

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