There are several ways to cash a check, including cashing or depositing it at a bank (lobby or ATM), cashing it at a retail or check cashing store, depositing it through an app, or depositing it to a prepaid debit card.
Before cashing your check, you must endorse it. On the back of the check, sign your name — look for the line marked with “Endorse Here” or an “x.” Most checks are two-party checks (person or business to a person); our related research details how to endorse and cash a third-party check. Note that unless you create a third-party check, you can’t have someone else cash the check for you.
Once you have endorsed your check, you can cash or deposit it; we explain how below.
Note: Regardless of where you cash or deposit a check, you will often need a government-issued photo ID, such as a driver’s license or state identification card. If you don’t have an ID, our previous research lists several check cashing options without ID.
Cashing/Depositing a Check at a Bank
If you have a bank account, you can typically avoid a check cashing fee by cashing/depositing your check with a teller or at your ATM. To cash a check at a teller, you’ll need to provide the endorsed check and your ID; to deposit it, you’ll also need to fill out a deposit slip with your account number and the check details.
If you choose to use the ATM, you won’t need your ID, but do remember to endorse your check before you submit it. Note that if your current account balance does not cover the full amount of the check, you can’t cash it immediately at the ATM; you will need to deposit the check and wait for it to clear, then get cash in a separate transaction. A portion of the check may be available to you immediately, depending on your bank’s policies. Once the check clears, the remainder will be available for withdrawal.
Cashing a Check at a Bank Without an Account
If you don’t have a bank account, you may be able to cash your check at the bank or credit union the check is drawn from for a fee. The front of the check should show this information. Keep in mind that not all banks and credit unions serve non-members; there might be a check amount limit for non-account holders as well. For more information about fees, limits, and rules, see our research on check cashing at Chase, Citibank, and U.S. Bank, plus banks that cash checks for non-account holders.
Cashing a Check at a Store
If your check is drawn on a bank or credit union that won’t cash your check, you have additional options. Check cashing stores and chain retailers (such as Food Lion, Kroger, Walmart, and The Check Cashing Store) offer check services for a fee.
At grocery stores and other retail stores, the fees are usually around $3 or less, while dedicated check cashing stores may charge fees up to 10% of the check amount. See our research on places that offer free check cashing, as well as our list of convenience, grocery, and liquor stores that cash checks.
Note that at retail stores, check cashing is typically done at the customer service counter, so check with your local store for the customer service hours. Stores that are open 24 hours usually only operate the customer service desk during daytime hours.
Cashing a Check in an App
Many major banks and PayPal offer free apps that allow you to cash your check online. You will endorse the check and submit pictures of the front and back of it; for more details, see our research on how to cash a check online. It may take a day or two for your money to clear.
Apps like Ingo Money will also allow smartphone users to deposit checks onto a prepaid card, PayPal, or a bank account. Our previous research includes the lists of mobile check cashing apps and check cashing apps that don’t use Ingo.
Prepaid Debit Card Deposits
If you use a prepaid debit card, its mobile app may allow you to deposit a check to the card. You will endorse your check by signing it and then writing “For Mobile Deposit” under your name.
Once you log into the app, you will take and submit pictures of the front and back of the check along with the check amount. These deposits can take up to ten days to process, depending upon the card. Some cards offer fast processing with a higher fee.
Have a Netspend prepaid card? See our previous research on where and how to load your Netspend card (including with a check).