Living without a bank account is a very common occurrence as 5.4% of U.S. households, or approximately 7.1 million homes, go “unbanked”. There are many benefits to living without a bank account – digital may be the new king, but cash still has a role to play.
There are useful alternatives for many of your financial needs, from prepaid debit cards to money orders. Bankless living isn’t about stuffing cash under the floorboards, but about being free, not being tied down to a financial institution — and it can even save you money.
Here are some ways to handle your finances without a bank account.
How to send and receive money without a bank account
Apps like PayPal, Square, and Venmo can help you transfer funds, but you need a source to operate. Usually, you can use things like the PayPal Cash Card for PayPal or a prepaid debit card to load your funds.
In the case of bills, you may also be able to send a money order, or possibly pay in person. Some services may even let you do a money transfer to a bank account, such as Western Union and Ria.
So, you can send money. But what about receiving? Apps like PayPal could work and can often store a balance, but there’s no guarantee your work will pay into one. Payroll Debit Cards can offer a convenient way to receive funds — they’re not tied to bank accounts and you can easily access cash from ATMs or cashback services in grocery stores.
Or there’s always the option of checks. With certain services, you can cash checks online with no bank account.
Paying bills without a bank account
There are ways to send money directly to a bank account even if you don’t have one, such as paying bills with a money order. Money orders can be used in place of a personal check, and the funds on a money order don’t expire.
However, they come with a small fee, and you need to check that the business you’re paying accepts money orders. Then, it’s as simple as mailing the money order to the business billing you. Some utility companies may have a local branch where you can pay in person too.
If you want something a little safer, you could load your funds onto a prepaid debit card and pay a company over the phone.
Money transfer services are another option — they offer transfers without a bank account. Services like these often have physical locations, apps, and online solutions for a variety of payment methods. You can send money directly to a bank account, or for cash pickup.
Cashing personal checks without a bank account
There are limited options when it comes to cashing checks without a bank account. You could check the sender’s bank, as they may allow you to cash it at that branch, though this often comes with a fee. It’s also important to note that some branches may refuse to cash the check if you don’t have an account.
Some retailers offer check cashing services, though these often come with fees as well. Check cashing stores also exist, but you can expect higher charges from more independent locations.
You can also cash a check online without a bank account by using a prepaid card. Many prepaid debit cards allow you to make mobile deposits by taking a photo of your check with your phone. Once the transfer is confirmed, you can then access those funds at an ATM.
Getting a loan without a bank account
It’s possible to get a loan without a bank account, though it may be a little tougher. Essentially, without an account, your lender can’t track where the loan goes or know where to fund it. You’ll also have to consider how you’ll receive and store the loan.
While it may take more effort to find the loan that’s right for you, it’s not impossible. Your local credit union or community bank may be able to offer you advice on how best to pursue this.
You could also get a credit card without a bank account. The main issue will be paying for it, though money transfer services or a trip to the local branch could help you with this. It’s worth inquiring about your options during the initial stages of applying.
Can I send money directly to a bank account?
Yes, you can do a money transfer to a bank account with a money transfer service. You could also perform a wire transfer by visiting the bank in store.
How do I store my money safely?
There are many ways to store your money that don’t involve stuffing it into your mattress. Safes are one idea, but services like PayPal, Google Wallet or Prepaid Debit cards can help you keep your money safe. It may be smart not to keep it all in one place, just in case.
Can I cash checks online with no bank account?
The easiest way to cash checks is to make a mobile deposit. There are very few ways to do this online without a bank account. In most scenarios, you will have to visit a check cashing
store or the sender’s local bank branch.