Money Lessons > Banking > How to Cash a Check Without a Bank Account

How to Cash a Check Without a Bank Account

If you receive a paper check, you might wonder how to turn it into cash. You can do that at a bank, a credit union, a check cashing business or a few other places. But you can’t just walk into any bank and expect the teller to magically poof! your check into cash. Not all banks cash checks if you aren’t a customer — and most check cashing services will charge you a fee.

Here are some tips on how to cash a check without a bank account, and what to consider before you do.

What You Need to Cash a Check

Before you visit a branch, make sure to bring at least one US ID. If you don’t have a US ID, you’ll need to go to a bank or credit union that lets you use an alternative form of ID, like a foreign passport. Otherwise, a bank could turn you away since it can’t determine whether the check belongs to you.

Make sure your check isn’t expired before you cash it. Many checks expire within 90 days of being written.

Where to Cash a Check

You have several options to cash a check without a bank account, but not all of them are convenient or cheap. Here are some of the most common places where you can cash a check, and how much they might charge you.

Place Fee Limit
Bank or credit union where the check is drawn from Varies, usually around $7 Depends on the check amount and the bank policy
Bank or credit union where you have an account Free or low fee Depends on your account balance and the check amount
Retailer (e.g. Walmart, grocery store, gas station) Varies, usually a percentage of the check amount or a flat fee Depends on the retailer policy and the check type
Check cashing store Varies, usually a percentage of the check amount or a flat fee Depends on the check cashing store policy and the check type

As you can see, the fees and limits vary widely depending on where you go to cash your check. Some places might also require you to fill out a form or provide additional information. You should compare the fees and limits of different places before you decide where to cash your check.

Pros and Cons of Cashing a Check Without a Bank Account

Cashing a check without a bank account might seem like a quick and easy way to get cash, but it also has some drawbacks. Here are some of the pros and cons of cashing a check without a bank account.


  • You can get cash immediately, without waiting for the check to clear or deposit into your account.
  • You can avoid the hassle of opening and maintaining a bank account, especially if you don’t have a stable income or address.
  • You can cash a check even if you have a negative balance or a history of overdrafts at your bank.


  • You might have to pay a high fee to cash your check, which reduces the amount of money you receive.
  • You might have to travel to a specific location to cash your check, which can be inconvenient or unsafe.
  • You might have to deal with unscrupulous or fraudulent check cashing services, which can rip you off or steal your identity.
  • You might miss out on the benefits of having a bank account, such as earning interest, building credit, saving for goals, and accessing other financial products and services.

Alternatives to Cashing a Check Without a Bank Account

If you want to avoid the fees and risks of cashing a check without a bank account, you might want to consider some alternatives. Here are some of the ways you can receive or send money without a bank account.

  • Use a prepaid debit card. A prepaid debit card is a card that you load with money and use like a regular debit card. You can use it to make purchases, withdraw cash from ATMs, or pay bills online. You can also receive money on your prepaid debit card from direct deposits, transfers, or mobile apps. Some prepaid debit cards have low or no fees, and some even offer cash back or rewards. However, some prepaid debit cards might charge you for activation, monthly maintenance, reloading, ATM usage, or other services. You should compare the features and fees of different prepaid debit cards before you choose one.
  • Use a money transfer service. A money transfer service is a company that allows you to send or receive money electronically, usually through a website or a mobile app. You can use a money transfer service to receive money from someone who has a bank account, or to send money to someone who doesn’t have a bank account. Some of the most popular money transfer services are Zelle, Venmo, Cash App, PayPal, and Western Union. Some money transfer services are free or low cost, and some are fast and convenient. However, some money transfer services might charge you for sending or receiving money, or for using a credit card or a cash pickup option. You should compare the rates and speeds of different money transfer services before you use one.
  • Use a money order. A money order is a paper document that you buy with cash and use like a check. You can use a money order to pay bills, rent, or other expenses that require a check. You can also receive a money order from someone who owes you money, and cash it at a bank, a post office, or a retailer. Some of the places where you can buy or cash a money order are Walmart, CVS, Walgreens, 7-Eleven, USPS, and MoneyGram. Some money orders have low or no fees, and some are secure and traceable. However, some money orders might have a limit on the amount you can send or receive, or require you to provide personal information or identification. You should compare the costs and requirements of different money orders before you use one.

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