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Maybe you are a freelancer with a client who wants to pay by check, or maybe you are an individual landlord accepting rent from a tenant. Maybe you just got a birthday gift from your second cousin twice removed that lives in Utah who you’ve met twice.
However you came to possess a personal check, someone wrote it to you and now you need to turn it from a piece of paper into real Benjamins. What do you do? Read on, you slightly-wealthier-than-yesterday person, you.
The top 5 easiest (and least expensive) ways to cash a personal check are:
1. Your local credit union or bank
Assuming you have a bank account open somewhere over the rainbow in your hometown at a selected financial institution, you are able to cash checks that are personally made out to you. Simply visit your bank and complete a deposit slip. You will be required to endorse (sign your signature) the back of the check for security purposes. Usually, your bank account includes free check cashing. There may be a holding period of up to a few days before the money is available in your account, depending on the amount, but for the most part, visiting your own bank is the easiest and quickest option.
2. The issuing bank or credit union
You can locate this information in the upper left-hand corner. Typically, you can visit the issuing bank (where the payer holds an account) and cash the check there. You may have to pay a non-account-holder fee, which can range from a few dollars to a larger percentage, depending on the amount and financial institution. You should be prepared to show a government-issued ID for security.
3. Walmart Check Cashing
There isn’t much you can’t get done at Walmart, and this remains true for cashing checks. You will have to pay a fee, usually $4 for each check, up to $1,000, or $8 for each check greater than $1,000 (as of summer 2019 pricing). The daily cashing limit is $5,000 at Walmart, though this is sometimes increased for the holidays.
4. Your Local Grocery Store
Similar to Walmart Check Cashing, most grocery stores will provide a check cashing service, for a fee. This fee can range from a flat few dollars to a percentage of the total, in which case you need to determine if this convenience is worth the cost, depending on your store’s policies. Most grocery stores will cash payroll checks, with fewer cashing personal checks due to risk of fraud. However, a few national grocery store chains still cash personal checks, including Safeway, Publix Super Markets, Inc., and Albertson’s.
5. Endorsing the Check to a Friend
If you find yourself without a bank account and without the desire to pay the transaction fees of the aforementioned options, you can sign the check over to a friend who has free check cashing at their bank, by writing “Pay to the order of . . .” and signing (endorsing), on the back of the check. To prevent check fraud, many banks will require you to be present and show ID, and other banks do not accept third-party checks at all. Make sure to check with the bank in question prior to endorsing a check to another person.
Final Recap: A Few Things to Remember When Cashing Personal Checks
Give the bank, credit union, or store a call before you go to cash your check, to make sure you are working with the best information possible and can save yourself time and money.