How to Cash a Check
Before Cashing a Check
There are things you need to know and be prepared for before you can cash a check. There are things you’ll need to do, items you’ll need to bring, and information you need to know.
For example, some banks and retailers will charge a percentage of the check or a fixed fee for cashing a check, but you might be able to avoid these fees if you cash the check with a bank that has your account.
There might also be a limit to how long you can wait to cash a check. Some banks won’t cash a check if it’s 6 months old or older.
You’ll also need to learn how to properly endorse a check before you can cash a check, and this isn’t all you need to know before cashing a check. Below we’ll go over everything you need to know and ask about before cashing a check, and then we’ll go over what you need to know in more detail.
Before you cash a check you’ll need to do the following:
- Make sure the check is correct, properly filled out, and not damaged.
- Choose where you’re going to go to cash your check.
- Ask about fees associated with cashing the check.
- Ask about when the funds will be available and if you can cash it now.
- Ask what all you need to bring to cash a check.
- Ask how long you have to cash the check.
Where you can go to cash a check:
- Cash a check at the bank
- Cash a check at the credit union
- Cash a check at the ATM
- Cash a check at a check cashing store
- Cash a check at the grocery store or other retailers
- Cash a check on your phone
- Cash a check online
What you need to bring to cash a check:
- Photo ID
- The check
- Your debit card
- Money for any check cashing fees
How to Endorse a Check
The first thing you need to know before you can cash or deposit a check is how to endorse a check. It’s really quite simple. The person sending the check signs the front of the check and the person receiving the check signs the back.
So what is endorsing a check? Endorsing a check gives the check cashing provider you’re using (like the bank) permission to collect payment for cashing that money to you.
So who endorses a check? The person who receives the check needs to endorse the check. The person who wants to deposit or cash the check is the one who needs to endorse it.
Flip the check over.
Sign your name under the words “ENDORSE CHECK HERE.”
Be careful not to write anything below the words, “DO NOT WRITE, STAMP OR SIGN BELOW THIS LINE ***RESERVED FOR FINANCIAL INSTITUTION USE***”
What is a Business Check?
A business check is a check written to or from a business. They are in some way linked to a business’s bank account. As a business owner, you might need business check cashing services in order to cash or deposit checks that customer’s used to pay for your services or products. Or you might need to cash a check given to you by a business.
Business checks get complicated because they are not written to or from individual people, but rather to a business organization. Depositing a business check into a business’s bank account is also easier to do then cashing a check that is written out to a business rather than to you individually.
Whether you can cash a business check or not also depends on the structure of your business, whether you’re the primary owner of your business’s bank account or if there are co-owners and copartners in charge of the business bank account.
Either way, to cash a business check, you’ll want to go to the bank that holds that business’s bank account. The bank that holds that business’s account will be the most familiar with the business, how it’s structured, and who should and shouldn’t be allowed to cash checks written to that business.
How to Cash Business Checks
Visit the bank that holds the business’s bank account.
Verify your identity and relationship with the business.
Provide the endorsed check.
Get verified as an authorized person to cash that business check and walk away with cash in hand.
How to Cash a Personal Check
Step One: Take the check and your photo ID to the bank or your preferred check cashing provider.
Step Two: Endorse the check before you hand it to the teller.
Step Three: The teller will process your personal check and get you the cash from your check.
Personal checks are checks from someone’s personal checkbook. They are also one of the easiest checks to cash. You just need to be the person the check is written for and have a photo ID ready to prove you are the person the check is meant for.
How to Cash Cashier Checks
Step One: Take your cashier check to a check cashing provider that accepts cashier checks.
Step Two: Provide the endorsed cashier check along with your photo ID and ask to have the cashier check cashed.
Cashier checks are checks that are guaranteed by the bank. With a cashier check, the bank will take the check amount out of your account immediately, so you don’t have to wait for the person receiving the check to do so.
For the receiver of the cashier check, you can treat the cashier check just like any other check! You just have to be sure your check cashing provider accepts cashier checks.
How to Cash a Two-Party Check
Figure out whether both parties named on the check must be present to cash the check or not. If the two-party check says, John AND Jane, then both John and Jane must be present to cash the check. If the two-party check says John OR Jane, then only one person needs to be present to cash the check.
The same principle applies for endorsing the check. If the two-party check says, John AND Jane, then both John and Jane must sign their names on the back of the check to endorse it. If the two-party check says John OR Jane, then only one person needs to sign their name on the back of the check to endorse it.
Bring the two-party check with the correct amount of endorsement signatures and the correct amount of people required to be present to your check cashing place and otherwise proceed as normal to cash the check.
A two-party check is a check that is written out not just for one person but for two people. This often happens when friends and relatives want to write a check out to a newly married couple by writing “Mr. and Mrs. Johnson” on the “Pay to the Order of” line of the check.
You can avoid complications like this by telling your guests beforehand who exactly to write the check out to.
Otherwise all you need to know when dealing with a two-party check is the following:
When a two-party check is written out to “John AND Jane” then both John and Jane need to endorse the check and be present to deposit or cash the check.
When a two-party check is written out to “John OR Jane” then only one person, John or Jane, needs to endorse the check and be present to deposit or cash the check.
How to Cash a Two-Party Check with One Signature
You can easily cash a two-party check with one signature if the “Pay to the Order of” line on the front of the check uses the word OR between the names of the two parties. But if this same lines uses the word AND between the names of the two parties, then both parties will have to sign the two-party check in order to cash it.
If you have questions, you can always ask your bank (or wherever you want to cash the check) what their policies for two-party checks are.
You can also ask the writer of the check to rewrite the check to better suit your needs and to make the check easier to deposit or cash. This might mean splitting the money up into 2 checks for each person, or only putting one name on the check for whoever will actually go to the bank to cash it.
How to Cash a Two-Party Check Without a Bank Account
Find a check cashing place that accepts two-party checks or go to the bank that issued the check.
Provide the check with the endorsement signatures and photo IDs of both parties outlined on the check. You’ll also want to make sure both people listed on the check are present.
Don’t have a bank account? It’s no problem! You can still easily cash your checks without a bank account. Instead of cashing your check at a bank just go to any check cashing store or retail store that also cashes checks. Just call ahead to make sure they accept two-party checks.
You can also still cash a check at a bank even if you don’t have a bank account. But the bank might charge you a fee if you don’t have an account with them. You can also cash your check at the bank that printed the check.
You can also give permission for someone else to cash a check in your stead. This is known as a third-party check.
How to Cash a Third-Party Check
The person whose name is originally on the check and the person they are handing over check cashing permission to must both go together to the check cashing place.
Both of you will show photo IDs to the teller, and the original recipient of the check will write a special permission for you to cash the check on the back of the check.
A third-party check is when you are cashing a check in someone else’s stead. For example, maybe your friend doesn’t have a bank account and wants to avoid check cashing fees.
They can give you permission to cash the check for them. You would then be cashing a third-party check because while you are cashing the check, the check was written to someone else.
How to Cash a Check for Someone Else
To cash a check for someone else you must understand how to use a third-party check.
On the back of the check where you would normally endorse the check write, “Pay to the order of . . . ” followed by the name of the person you want to give permission to.
Then sign your name below this to finalize giving your permission to that person.
To be extra sure, sign your initials near the written and numerical amounts on the front of the check as well.
Say Mary Johnson has a check that was written for her on the front, but she wants to give Jane Smith permission to cash the check for her.
All she has to do is write “Pay to the Order of Jane Smith,” followed by her own signature on the back of the check where it says “ENDORSE HERE.” Then Mary can write her initials by each mention of the monetary amount on the front of the check, and now Jane Smith can cash the check in her stead.
However, it’s still likely the bank will want both Mary and Jane present when Jane goes to cash the check.
How to Cash a Check Without a Bank Account
Around 9 million US households don’t have bank accounts according to a survey done by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp (FDIC). Many people don’t have bank accounts, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have financial needs they need to take care of, like cashing checks.
If you want to cash your check at a bank, but you don’t have a bank to go to, you can go to the bank of the person who wrote the check for you. Most banks will cash checks that came from them even if the check receiver has no account with them.
The reason banks can be finicky about cashing your check if you don’t have an account with them is to protect themselves from fraud or cashing bad checks. A check is more likely to be good if the check recipient and/or the writer of the check have an account and financial relationship with the bank. Then at least one party in the check transaction is familiar to them.
You can also cash your check at a check cashing place that doesn’t require customers to have an account, like a retail store or check cashing store.
How to Cash a Check Without ID
There are many reasons you might need to cash a check without ID. Your ID could have been stolen or misplaced. It could be expired and you’re waiting on the new one to arrive or you haven’t made it to the DMV yet to get a new one.
Financial providers usually ask for ID when cashing checks because it helps verify that this check is in fact meant for you. Otherwise, stolen checks would get cashed by the wrong person more easily, and no one wants that.
Acceptable forms of ID usually need to be government-issued, meaning it can’t be your student ID. The photo ID you provide a financial institution needs to be more official and universally recognizable than that. Though some institutions will accept school or employer IDs as valid forms of secondary ID. But there is a chance they will ask for 2 forms of secondary ID in this case.
Your photo ID also can’t be expired. If it’s expired then it’s not a valid form of ID. Below are some examples of primary and secondary IDs you can use when cashing a check.
Examples of Primary ID:
- Driver’s license
- Photo ID
- Military ID
- Tribal ID
Examples of Secondary ID:
- Alien registration photo card
- College photo ID
- Employment photo ID
- Firearms permit photo ID
- Foreign driver’s license photo ID
- Permanent resident photo card
- U.S. birth certificate
- U.S. employment authorization photo ID
- Welfare photo ID
If you don’t have any of these forms of ID on you, then there are still a few things you can do to cash a check without ID. You could get someone else to cash it for you by signing the check over to someone else.
Or you could deposit your check at an ATM, using your bank’s mobile app, or depositing a check on PayPal in order to avoid getting asked to see your photo ID in the first place.
How to Avoid Check Cashing Scams
Scammers are always trying to find new ways to steal your money. It’s your job to stay up to date on the latest scams so you can be aware and protect yourself. Below are just a few practices you can do to avoid check cashing scams.
- Never give permission to someone you don’t already know and trust to cash your check.
- At some places when you cash or deposit a check you’ll get a deposit slip that you might need to fill out and sign. Keep this slip for your records.
- Put your cash away before leaving the teller’s counter. Don’t walk out of the building or away from the counter with a pile of cash visible in your hands.
- Ask for the option to only cash out some of the money from the check and deposit the rest into your account. Don’t walk around with too much cash on hand.
- You can also put the check funds on a Check City Prepaid Debit Card. This is safer and easier to use than carrying around cash.