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Most consumers with a bank account can cash any check at their own bank for free. But if you’re one of the millions of Americans with no bank account, you’ll probably have to cash your check at a big-box store, supermarket, bank or check-cashing center. You typically pay a fee ranging from $3 to a percentage of the check amount and will be required to present a valid ID.
Cashing a Check at Walmart and Other Stores
The following national stores and major grocery stores will cash payroll checks along with government-issued checks like Social Security checks and tax refund checks. They’ll usually also accept cashier’s checks, insurance settlement checks and retirement plan disbursement checks. Kmart and Publix are the only retailers listed below that accept personal checks. Some regional or local grocery stores not listed below may also cash checks. Visit the customer service counter of your local supermarket to find out if they cash checks and what types they accept.
|Store||Fee||Types of accepted checks|
|H-E-B Grocer||starting at $3|
Cashing a Check at the Check-Issuing Bank
Banks and credit unions often will cash government, payroll, and other official checks along with personal checks if the check-writer has an account at the same institution. The check-issuing bank’s logo typically is printed on the check. Some—but not all—major banks will cash checks for non-account holders, usually for a fee, as long as the checking account has sufficient funds. In some cases, the bank may waive check-cashing fees if you open a bank account.
|Bank||Fee for Cashing a Check|
|Bank of America||$8 for Bank of America checks over $50|
|Chase||$8 for Chase checks|
|PNC||No fee for PNC checks|
|SunTrust||$7 for SunTrust checks over $50|
|TD Bank||$7 for TD Bank checks|
|Wells Fargo||$7.50 for Wells Fargo checks|
Where You Can Cash a Personal Check
Another place you can cash a personal check, in addition to its issuing bank or a Kmart or Publix store, is at a money center. Unaffiliated with banks, these businesses also cash government, payroll and other official checks. Some outlets strictly offer cash-checking, while others provide other financial services such as bill payment and payday loans. Some of the larger chains of check-cashing outlets include:
- ACE Cash Express
- United Check Cashing
- Check Cashing USA
- Check into Cash
In some states, including Texas, check-cashing services are not regulated and are therefore free to charge whatever they wish for the transactions. In the majority of states, though, the fees are dictated by state law, and typically vary depending on the type of check.
Check-cashing fees in the 10 largest states by population
|State||Government Checks||Personal checks||Other checks (payroll)|
|California||The greater of: 3% with valid ID; 3.5% without ID, or $3||12% of check value||The greater of: 3% with valid ID; 3.5% without ID, or $3|
|Texas||No check-cashing laws; outlets are free to charge what they wish.|
|Florida||The greater of: 3% or $5||The greater of: 10% or $5||The greater of: 5% or $5|
|New York||The greater of: 2.03% or $1||The greater of: 2.03% or $1||The greater of: 2.03% or $1|
|Illinois||1.4% plus $1 fee for checks $100 or less; 2.25% on checks greater than $100||1.4% plus $1 fee for checks $100 or less; 2.25% on checks greater than $100||1.4% plus $1 fee for checks $100 or less; 2.25% on checks greater than $100||2.|
|Pennsylvania||1.5% on government checks; 0.5% on government assistance checks||10% of check value||3% of check value|
|Ohio||3% of check value||no cap||no cap|
|Georgia||The greater of: 3% or $5||The greater of: 10% or $5||The greater of: 5% or $5|
|North Carolina||The greater of: 3% or $5||The greater of: 10% or $5||The greater of: 5% or $5|
|Michigan||No check-cashing laws; outlets are free to charge what they wish.|
Requirements to cash a check
You typically need one to two valid IDs to cash a check at the places mentioned earlier. They can include:
- U.S. Driver’s License
- State-Issued ID
- U.S. Military ID
- U.S. Passport
- Mexican Matricula Consular ID
- Tribal ID
- Green Card (Alien Registration Receipt/Permanent Resident Card)
If you don’t need actual cash, but just access to some of your check’s funds quickly, consider transferring the check’s funds to a prepaid debit card. Depending on the card, you’ll likely be charged a fee for opening a new prepaid card and each time you deposit a check. How quickly you can access all or part of the funds from the prepaid card depends on the funds availability policy for the card. Payroll and government benefits checks can be directly deposited onto a prepaid card, with the funds available immediately. Some cards use a third-party service that allow you to load a check onto your prepaid card within minutes by snapping a picture of your check, usually for a fee.
Another option is Fifth Third Bank’s Express Banking account, which allows account holders to immediately access their check deposits for a fee, which varies by the frequency of customer activity. The fees range from free for Fifth Third checks for high-transaction customers to 4% on personal checks for low-transaction customers. The Express Banking account, which comes with an optional debit card, has no minimum balance requirements and charges no monthly service fee and no overdraft fees.