If someone pays you these days, it’s probably through direct deposit or a money transfer made online or through an app. But you may get paper checks occasionally for jobs like babysitting or yard work, as a gift from family or friends, or even from your employer.
There are several ways to cash them, including through:
- Your regular bank or credit union
- The issuing bank
- Grocery stores
- Your employer
- The easiest way to cash a check is to take it to a bank where you have an account, but if you don’t have your own bank account, you’ll need a different solution.
- You can often cash a check with a different bank or the bank where the check originated, but you may be charged a small fee.
- Other check-cashing services include Walmart, many grocery stores, and standalone check-cashing services.
- If you don’t have an ID to cash a check, consider endorsing it to someone else, including a parent or guardian who can cash it on your behalf—but it might be hard to find a bank or credit union that will accept a third-party check.
Local Banks or Credit Unions
The simplest way to cash a check is through a bank or credit union where you already have a checking account. You can cash any type of check there, including personal, payroll, certified, cashier’s, and government-issued checks.
Another bonus of cashing your check via your bank account is you can usually do so either in person at a local branch or through your bank. You can also deposit using your bank’s mobile app, although this may only be available to those 18 or older. Because you already have an account there, there are no added fees.
You may face difficulty cashing your check if you don’t have a bank account yet. Banks aren’t obligated to cash checks for people who aren’t customers. And those that do may charge costly fees ranging from $3 to $10, or require you to enroll in check-cashing services.
Many banks offer teen checking accounts specially designed for people under 18. These accounts often waive monthly fees and minimum balance requirements. Depending upon your state and bank, you may need your parent or guardian’s assistance as a co-owner on a bank checking account if you’re under 18.
Some states allow minors to have bank accounts in their own name at the age of 15 at state-chartered banks.
The Issuing Bank
If you don’t have a bank account, you may be able to cash a personal or payroll check at the issuing bank. You can usually find the name of the issuing bank in its upper left-hand corner of the check.
Banks aren’t required to cash checks written by their customers to people who don’t have accounts there, but many do. You may be able to cash a check even if you’re under 18, but you’ll have to show proper ID and may be charged a fee, as discussed above.
Most Walmart locations aren’t able to cash checks for customers younger than 18. If you’re 18 or older, to cash a check there, you’ll need to provide valid identification. You can get the money in cash or load it onto a Walmart MoneyCard.
Types of checks you can cash (for a fee) include:
- Payroll checks
- Government-issued checks
- Cashiers’ checks
- Insurance settlement checks
- Retirement distribution checks
- MoneyGram money orders
- Two-party personal checks (not available in New Jersey)
Walmart cashes checks of up to $200 for two-party personal checks and up to $5,000 for preprinted checks—except for January through April of each year (tax refund season), when it will cash preprinted checks of up to $7,500. You’ll pay a fee of $4 for checks up to $1,000 and $8 for checks over $1,000. For two-party personal checks, you’ll pay a fee of $6.
Certain grocery store chains like Publix and Kroger offer check-cashing services for a small fee, usually with no age limit. Checks for customers younger than 18 can be cashed with a government-issued ID, which representatives at both Publix and Kroger confirmed. However, your local grocery store may have a different policy.
To cash a check at a grocery store, you must present a valid identification card, such as a state-issued ID, driver’s license, or passport.
You’ll also pay a small fee, which will vary by store. For example, for checks up to $2,000, Kroger charges $4 for Shopper’s Card holders and $4.50 for those without a card. For checks larger than $2,000, it charges $7 if you have a Shopper’s Card and $7.50 if you don’t. However, you can only get a Shopper’s Card at age 16.
Some grocery stores only cash preprinted checks like payroll checks, government-issued checks, insurance settlements, business checks or child support checks. Many will not cash personal checks.
Depending on where you work, your employer may be able to cash a check for you. There may be certain limitations in place. For example, some employers may only cash paychecks, while others may only cash personal checks. Additionally, some may limit the value of the checks they will cash.
If you have a PayPal account, you can simply cash your check by taking a picture of it. Much like the mobile apps offered by banks, the PayPal app allows you to take a photo of each side of your check and choose when you want to receive your money. You can access your money for free within 10 days or immediately for a $5 minimum fee.
Keep in mind that while you can use this service to deposit your check into your PayPal account, you can’t actually get cash for it.
To open a PayPal account, you must be at least 18 years of age. If you’re younger than 18, you won’t be able to cash your checks in this way.
Endorse It to Someone Else
If you don’t have a bank account, run into age limits, and don’t have valid identification to cash your check, you can endorse it to someone such as a parent, to cash it for you. This is called a third-party check. Your parent can deposit the check into the parental account, then give you cash in exchange.
If you’re under 18, the process may work a little differently. Ask your credit union or bank for their procedure.
In general, you’ll follow these steps,
- On the back of the check, you’ll print (versus sign) your name and “minor” afterward
- Under your name, the adult will print their name and relationship to you
- Then, the adult will write their account number, if depositing into their own account
It may or may not be possible to deposit the check using a banking app. In fact, some banks may refuse to accept endorsed third-party checks altogether, or require you to be physically present with the person who is cashing the check.
Many check-cashing locations, such as King Sooper grocery stores, will not accept third-party checks.
What About Check-Cashing Services?
If you don’t have a bank account but have a government-issued ID, you might be able to cash your check at a nearby check-cashing service. These companies are often physical locations where you bring your check and walk out with cash.
You can generally cash a check at a check-cashing service even if you’re younger than 18, as long as you can provide a government ID. However, in some states the rules vary.
Like other check-cashing services, these companies require a fee, with maximum fees often limited by state law. The fees range between 1% and 10%, depending on check type (personal, payroll) and may come with a flat-rate minimum such as $2.
What Do You Need to Cash a Check?
What you need to cash a check depends on where you’re cashing it. But generally speaking, you’ll need these three things:
- The check
- Government-issued ID, such as a driver’s license, state ID, or passport
- Money to pay check-cashing fees (though in some cases, these may simply be deducted from the check)
Finally, in some cases, it may be helpful to have a parent or guardian with you if you’re under 18.
Where Can I Cash My Check Immediately?
Most check-cashing services can be done fairly quickly during business hours at your own bank, the issuing bank, participating grocery stores, and check-cashing services. If you have a PayPal account, you can deposit the check immediately. However, the fastest (and cheapest) way to get cash is probably to bring it to your bank or the bank where the check originated.
How Long Do You Have to Cash a Check?
Generally speaking, you’ll only have six months after a check is written to cash it. After six months, the check is considered stale, and a bank or credit union can choose not to honor it. After six months, you may need to go back to the source to see if you can get a replacement check.
Can I Cash a Check Without an ID?
It will be difficult, if not impossible, to cash a check on your own without an ID. However, you can endorse the check to someone else to cash, typically at a parent’s or guardian’s bank.
The Bottom Line
If you haven’t opened a bank account yet—or no longer have one for some reason—you may have difficulty cashing checks. Luckily, there are still some ways to get your money, including visiting the issuing bank or going to a local grocery store. Many check-cashing services have age restrictions, meaning you’ll need a parent or guardian to accompany you if you’re under 18.