How To Cash A Check Without A Bank Account

If you have a bank account, cashing a check is pretty straight forward — head to your nearest branch, ATM, or use your bank’s mobile deposit app.

However, many people don’t have a checking or savings account[1]. You may be one of them, and if you’ve recently received a check, you may wonder how to cash a check without a bank account.

The cost of cashing a check if you don't have a bank account is another concern. Some options are more affordable than others, helping to ensure you keep more of your money rather than paying higher fees that could add up over time.

Cash It At The Issuing Bank

Banks aren’t required to cash checks for noncustomers. However, many will cash an “on-us” check, a check written by a customer to a payee who is not a customer.

If it’s convenient, head to the issuing bank in person. The bank will confirm the funds in the payer’s account and ask you to prove your identity. Usually, any government-issued ID, such as a driver’s license or state identification card, will be sufficient.

The bank may charge a small fee for cashing a check, such as a flat fee of $8[2]. With some banks, it could be free up to a certain amount, such as $25, with an additional fee for higher monetary value. At the same time, other banks may charge a percentage of the check amount, such as 2%, with a minimum $3 fee.

Before visiting the bank in person to cash the check, you can call them to see if there are any other specific restrictions or requirements. For example, a bank may not cash a check older than six months or may have limits on the amount they’ll cash for noncustomers.

Visit A Check-Cashing Retailer

Another option to cash a check without a bank account is to visit a retailer that offers check-cashing services. For some, it may be more convenient to go to a check-cashing retailer or a big box store in your local area, if you’re not near the issuing bank.

A variety of big box stores, convenience stores, and grocery chains will cash different types of checks, including:

  • Payroll checks
  • Checks from the government, including tax returns
  • Cashier’s checks
  • Settlement checks from insurance companies

As with visiting a bank, it’s not a bad idea to call beforehand to ensure you have the proper identification, know what types of checks they cash, and if there are any associated fees. Like a bank, retailers usually charge a fee for cashing the check and may impose maximum limits.

Use A Prepaid Debit Card

Another option for cashing a check without a bank account is to load funds onto a prepaid debit card.

There are a few options for using prepaid cards, depending on which card you choose. Some will allow for the direct deposit of funds, such as payroll, to the debit card, while others may let you deposit funds at an ATM or use a mobile app to take a picture of the check for deposit.

Be aware of fees. Some cards charge monthly maintenance and additional fees every time you deposit or withdraw funds, including re-load fees. Other cards may require a minimum balance or a minimum monthly deposit amount to maintain the card. The costs could add up if you use a prepaid debit card frequently.

Consider A Check Cashing Store

You can also visit a check-cashing store. However, these often impose fees that may be far higher than the issuing bank or retail store with check cashing services.

Sign The Check Over To A Trusted Friend Or Family Member

If you have a trusted friend or family member, you may also sign your check to them for cashing. Before you do it, your friend should ensure their bank accepts these checks, if you need to be with them to cash the check, and the proper instructions on how to endorse it. For example, some banks may require you to write ‘payable to [your friend’s name]’ on it. Also, find out if you both need identification to complete the transaction.

If they do, you'll sign your name to the back of the check where it says "endorse here" and either write their name or “for deposit only” underneath your signature. This signals the bank that you have endorsed the funds transfer to your friend. Your friend cashes the check as usual and gives you the money.

Consider The Convenience Of Banking

While it's possible to cash a check without a bank account, the fees can add up, and it's not always convenient. That's why opening your own bank account may be something to consider.

Learn more about PNC's Virtual Wallet® Checking Account.