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Pay to Cash | Checks

Should You Pay to Cash?

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Blank Check
Christine Balderas/Photodisc/Getty Images

Pay to cash is a way to write a check without including the recipient's name. A check that says "pay to cash" can be cashed or deposited by anybody. These checks can be convenient, but they are also risky. Find out how these checks work, how to write one, and how to deposit one.

What is Pay to Cash?

A pay to cash check simply has the word "cash" on the line where you normally write your payee’s name. For a visual illustration of how to write a check, see the tutorial:

Just Like Cash

A check payable to cash is just like cash - anybody can use it. If the check gets lost, whoever finds it can get the money unless you stop payment on the check first. Likewise, the recipient can pass the check on to somebody else.

Why Write a Check to Cash?

Writing a check payable to cash is a simple solution if you don't know who to make a check payable to. For example, you might know that you need to write a check for a certain amount but you're unsure of the payee's exact name. You can write the check, slip it in your pocket, and leave your checkbook at home.

Why Not Pay to Cash?

Checks payable to cash are generally a bad idea. Why not just leave the payee line blank and finish up once you know how to fill it out properly? A check payable to cash is about as secure as a check with the payee’s name blank anyway - either way it’s negotiable by anybody.

Paying to cash is risky because you don't have any control over who deposits the check. If it gets lost or stolen, you and your bank have to keep an eye out for a fraudulent transaction.

Also, some banks don't like checks that are payable to cash. They may refuse to honor them or place a hold on the funds.

Finally, these checks make it harder for you to keep track of your finances. If you go through old check logs or images, it takes extra effort to determine who you wrote the check to.

Depositing a Check Made Out to Cash

If you receive a check payable to cash, just deposit it like you would any other check. Sign the back with your account number and give it to your bank. If you want to cash the check (instead of depositing it to your account) you may have to go to the bank that the funds are drawn on. Look for the bank's name on the check and then find the nearest branch.

Keep in mind that your bank may refuse to honor these checks or they may require extra hold times. If possible, request that any checks you receive include your name or your business name. That way, you can accept a check with greater confidence.

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