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How to Cash a Check

Learn How and Where to Cash a Check


Receiving cash from a teller
CC BY-ND 2.0 - Flickr / myfuture.com

How do you get access money when somebody writes you a check? You need to know how to cash a check or deposit it. It’s important to avoid risk and fees when you cash a check, so let’s go over your options.

Before You Cash a Check

First, make sure the check is legitimate. If you try to cash a check that is not 'real', you can get into trouble and lose money. Some common scams involve paying you with a fake check, and then asking you to do something before the check is processed. When in doubt, call the bank that issued a check before you try to cash it.

Deposit or Cash a Check?

You might not need to cash a check. You can always deposit the money without taking cash. The bank will add the funds to your account and you can use the money later. Only cash a check if you plan to spend the cash soon. The money is safer in the bank, and you won't be tempted to spend more than you need to.

Where to Cash a Check

You can generally cash a check at your bank or the bank the check is drawn on (that’s the bank listed on the face of the check - where the money will come from). Your bank probably won’t charge a fee, but you may have to pay if you go to the bank the money is coming from. You’ll have to endorse the check and show valid identification to cash the check.

Any bank can refuse to cash a check - even if their customer wrote the check and has sufficient funds. They may not cash a check if something is suspicious, or if they simply don’t want to serve non-customers. You should generally avoid check cashing stores, cash advance, and payday loan shops. They’ll cash a check, but you’ll have to pay a fee. Over time, the fees add up. You can probably do better (or avoid fees altogether) by opening an account at a bank or credit union. If you'll receive more than a few checks each year, open a bank account.
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