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How to cash a check?

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Cashing a check is quick and easy once you understand the steps, including where to go, what you need and how much it costs.

Our guide explains how to deposit or cash a check, what to do if your check bounces and how to stay safe from check fraud.

Depositing or cashing a check?

There are two ways to claim your money through a check:

  • Cash – this gives you the cash in-hand
  • Deposit – the money is added to your bank account

Here are a few pros and cons of each method.

Cashing a check:

  • Gives you access to the funds immediately
  • Doesn’t need a bank account
  • Can be done at multiple locations
  • Usually costs a small fee to process
  • Often has a limit of how much you can cash
  • May charge penalty fees if the check bounces

Depositing a check:

  • Puts your money safely in your bank account
  • You can deposit a check anywhere with a mobile device
  • Is usually free through your bank
  • Can take a few days for the money to become available
  • Requires you to have a bank account
  • May charge a fee if the check bounces

How to cash a check

Cash a check without a bank account in a few simple steps:

  1. Examine the check. Telltale signs that a check is fake could be false information, flimsy paper or a missing check number. That’s why it’s important to know how to read a check, before cashing.
  2. Find out what type of check it is. Different checks have different requirements, such as where you can cash it and the amount you can cash at one time. Are you cashing a business check, a government check or payroll check?
  3. Research where it can be cashed. Common places to cash a check include your bank, the check issuer’s bank, a grocery store or your local Money Services.
  4. Check the fees. Some locations charge more in fees than others. Ask the store or bank for their fees, to find the best location. Check out our guide on how much it costs to cash a check, for more information.
  5. Endorse the check. You need to sign the back of the check to endorse it.
  6. Visit the check cashing Head to the counter and a staff member should be able to help process your check.
  7. Show your ID. Most places will ask to see some ID, to make sure you are the person the check is issued for. Find out what ID you will need, before you go to cash it.
  8. Collect your receipt. Once you’ve paid the fees and gotten your cash, ask for a receipt for your records.

Cashing postdated checks

Sometimes the issuer may postdate a check. This means setting a date in the future for when the check should be cashed.

You don’t need to wait until this date, but there’s probably a reason behind it. Most people postdate a check to show when the funds will be in their account, to avoid the check bouncing later on.

If you’re unsure whether or not to cash a postdated check as soon as you receive it, ask the check writer if there are any reasons behind the date.

What if I cash a check that bounces?

If a check bounces, both you and the check issuer may face penalty fees. If deposited into a bank account, you will also have to pay the money back.

Tips for avoiding a bounced check:

  • Ask the check writer if the funds are in their account, ready to be cashed, before you cash it.
  • If you are depositing the check into your bank account, wait a few days until the check clears, before spending that money.
  • If it’s a tax refund or government check, these are safer and will clear faster.

Protect yourself from check fraud

Check fraud is now a common scam in the US. This usually involves sending a check for a higher amount than you expected, then asking for the difference back. Because checks can take a few days to clear, the scammer will hope that you send the extra money before the check bounces.

The best way to avoid falling victim to check fraud is to only accept checks from people you know. You should also make sure to cash any checks with a recognized bank, credit union or check cashing service, such as your nearest Money Services.

Another way to prevent check fraud is to only endorse the check on the back when you are ready to cash it in. Some places allow you to cash a check without ID, so scammers can get a hold of your check and take the money for themselves, with just your signature.

For more information on how to spot and report a suspicious check, see our Fraud Prevention hub.

Save time and money by cashing your check at Money Services, located in the Kroger Family of Stores. Find your local check cashing store today.

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