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How to Cash a Check Without a Bank Account

While a bank account is an integral part of your financial toolkit, there are ways to get by without one for certain activities. Here are some choices and things to think about if you don't have a bank account and need to cash a deposit.

Where to cash a check without a bank account

The bank where the check was issued. For a flat fee or a percentage of the check, the bank listed on the check you got should be able to cash it for you. However, keep in mind that a bank isn't obliged to cash checks written by non-customers.

A major retailer. Consumers can deposit checks for a small fee at some supermarkets, such as Walmart, Kmart, 7-Eleven, and convenience stores.

Deposit onto a prepaid debit card. Customers can load checks to finance their cards via their mobile devices with some prepaid card services, such as Transact by 7-Eleven or Netspend by Visa.

A payday or title lender. If you choose this method of cashing a check, bear in mind that, although it is a convenient service, you will most likely end up paying a substantial portion of the check to a payday or title lender in return for cash.

How to cash a large check without a bank account

You may be able to cash relatively large checks without issue depending on where you go. For nonpersonal checks, Walmart, for example, allows you to cash up to $5,000 (the cap is raised to $7,500 from January to April). The cap on two-party personal checks, on the other hand, is $200.

If you need to cash a larger personal check, you'll need to contact the bank that issued the check to see what options are available. Keep in mind that cashing the check can incur a fee.

Additional considerations

You will likely need a form of official identification. If you want to cash your check at a retailer, payday lender, or the bank that issued it, you'll almost certainly need to carry government-issued identification, such as a passport, driver's license, green card, military ID, state-issued ID, or tribal ID.

Two-party personal checks may be more difficult to cash. If you want to cash a check that you got from someone else rather than a government, cashier's, or payroll check, you may be limited on how much you can cash.

How to open a bank account

Cashing a check or depositing a check into your own account is typically the fastest and cheapest choice. If you want to open a bank account, follow these measures.

If you’re new to banking: In general, establishing a bank account is a simple procedure. You'll usually only need a government-issued photo ID and some basic personal details including your birthdate, Social Security number, and contact information. If you're under the age of 18, a parent or legal guardian must co-own the account with you. If you want to open a joint account, you'll also need the details from the other applicant.

If you have a ChexSystems record: ChexSystems keeps track of blemishes on your financial record, such as unpaid overdraft fees, and notifies other banks if you want to open a new account. There are steps you can take to boost your record if you're having trouble opening a bank account because you've been listed on ChexSystems. Consider opening a second-chance checking account when you're working on clearing your ChexSystems report. Some banks offer second-chance checking accounts as a way for customers to restore their banking.

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