Cashing a check can be difficult, especially if you don’t have a bank account. Moreover, the type of check you have is essential. For example, if you have a government-issued check, you are probably wondering, “Where can I cash a government check? The United States government issues check for different reasons, such as welfare and disability, social security benefits, and tax refunds. Checks from the federal government are the best. Most cashing options consider these checks safe since they are unlikely to bounce. Similarly, state and county governments send checks, which are also reasonably safe.
Whether you have social security, welfare, or a U.S. Treasury-drawn check, among others, cashing it is simple. Even supposing you don’t have an account with any of the banks, there are other options, including retail giants like Walmart. Retails and grocery stores are among check cashing places open on Sunday because most consumers shop during weekends. For those and other areas, you will need to verify your identity before getting services from the cashier. So, before answering the question, ‘where can I cash a government check’, let us first look at the requirements to cash the check.
You often need one or two valid identification documents to cash a check at most places, including the ones we have mentioned. Note that valid I.D.s don’t just apply to cash government-issued checks, but to any other type of check, you’ll want to cash. Check-cashing outlets can verify your identity using different I.D.s, including the driver’s license, military I.D., state I.D., and U.S. passport, among others. In the following sections, we’ll be discussing the various places you can cash a government check.
Top 6 Best Places To Cash A Government Check
Here are the six alternatives to cash a government check.
1. Your Checking Account
The first place you can cash a government check is at a local bank, where you have an account. You can always cash your check at any of your bank’s local branches unless your account isn’t in good standing. If you are yet to open an account, consider applying to open one. However, you can still cash certain government-issued checks at a local bank even without a bank account. For instance, the United States Treasury issues tax refund checks, which most banks cash even if the owner doesn’t hold an account there. If you opt for this method, watch out for a nominal fee that banks charge non-customers.
For most consumers, it is difficult to imagine life without a checking account. Regardless, it is the reality for about 8% of the unbanked Americans. The same study shows roughly 28.3% of citizens are underbanked or unbanked. It means these people depend on alternatives to banks when seeking financial services like cashing checks. If you fall into this category, you might be asking, “where can I cash a government check without a bank account?”
Sadly, living without a checking account can be costly. Almost every check cashing service out there will apply a fee. Therefore you can open checking account online instantly anytime. Even few banks have opportunity to open free checking accounts without any deposit. However, the next five check-cashing alternatives are for individuals who don’t have a checking account.
2. Check-Cashing At Issuing Banks
Financial institutions like credit unions and banks often cash personal, payroll, government, as well as other official checks as long as the check-writer runs an account with that institution. Check for the bank’s logo on the check to know which bank specifically issued your check.
Some major banks often cash checks for non-account holders. However, the majority of such banks will impose a fee to cash the check, if the checking account has enough money. In other cases, the institution may waive check-cashing charges if you choose to open an account with them.
Here is a table showing the charges to expect at some of the major banks
|Wells Fargo||Costs $7.50 for any Wells Fargo checks|
|T.D. Bank||Costs $7 for any T.D. Bank checks|
|SunTrust||Costs $7 for SunTrust checks over $50|
|PNC||Applies a $0 fee for all PNC checks|
|Chase||Costs $8 for any Chase checks|
|Bank of America||Costs $8 for any Bank of America checks worth $50+|
Except for PNC and Capital One, which don’t apply check-cashing charges, nearly every other bank imposes a fee from $4 to $10 for cashing their own checks if you don’t hold an account.
Also, note that check-cashing fees can vary by state. For example, in Michigan State, where services aren’t regulated, banks are free to set individual rates. In most states, however, state laws dictate the charges, which will vary based on your type of check.
The chart below shows check-cashing charges in the ten largest states based on population.
|State||Fees for Government Checks|
|California||Most banks charge: 3% with valid ID; 3.5% minus ID, or $3|
|Texas||No regulations for cashing checks; banks can set individual rates|
|Florida||Most banks charge: 3% or $5|
|New York||Most banks charge: 2.03% or $1|
|Illinois||# Checks worth $100 or less: 1.4% + $1 fee|
# Checks worth $100+: 2.25%
|Pennsylvania||# Government checks: 1.5%|
# Government assistance checks: 0.5%
|Ohio||Banks charge 3% of the check’s value|
|Georgia||Most banks charge: 3% or $5|
|North Carolina||Most banks charge: 3% or $5|
|Michigan||No regulations for cashing checks; banks can set individual rates|
3. Check-Cashing at Grocery Stores
Most of the large discount stores, convenience stores, and groceries often charge a small fee to cash government checks. For example, you can cash a government check in these stores:
- Giant Eagle
- Circle K
Some retail stores have short-time check-cashing offers. For instance, Walmart allows checks up to $7,500 between January and April so customers can cash their tax refunds. In other months, they have a $5,000 check-cashing limit.
4. Check-Cashing at Check-Cashing Facilities
Those without a bank account, or don’t live close to convenience or grocery stores that cash checks, they probably have a check-cashing facility they can use. Some of the common facilities include;
- Money Mart
- Any Kind Checks Cashed
- Ace Cash Express
- Check Into Cash
These establishments will honor a government check, provided you have an I.D. You’ll want to consider these facilities as your last resort because of exorbitant check-cashing rates. You can expect a fee, which is a percentage of your check’s value, often ranging between 2% and 10% of your check’s total.
Here are the expected check-cashing charges from some popular national and grocery stores;
|Store||Types of accepted checks||Fee|
|H-E-B Grocer||# Payroll|
|# Free in D.E., NJ, PA, WA, Guam, CT, GA, NV, & SC|
# 50 cents in R.I. and IL
|# Checks up to $2,000: $3 with Shopper’s Card|
# Checks up to $5,000: $5.50 fee with Shopper’s card
# Retirement benefits
# Insurance settlement
|# Max of $6 for checks $1,000+|
# Max of $3 for checks up to $1,000
5. Endorse Your Check To Another Party
You can endorse your government check to a family member or trusted friend who has a checking account. In doing so, you will cash your check without charges. Remember to sign your name and write below it, ‘Pay to the order of (the endorsee).’ The endorsee must also endorse the check underneath for the endorsement to be valid. After that, their bank will cash your check without applying charges.
6. Prepaid Cards
Some financial institutions allow their customers to cash a check with no penalties by loading the money onto a prepaid debit card. One thing, however, is that some of the reloadable prepaid cards come with hefty maintenance charges along with hidden costs and fees.
Prepaid cards are a great option if you do not need the cash instantly. You will spend your money as soon as your check clears. In some cases, you may have the funds available immediately, based on the features of your card. After your check clears, you can convert the funds into cash through an ATM withdrawal.
You’ll need to use the prepaid card’s mobile app to deposit by taking a picture of your check. It is a good option, especially if you cannot open a bank account because prepaid cards can substitute the functions of a bank account.
The Bottom Line
Checks can be complicated to cash, mainly because they come with fraud risks. But, government checks are the safest since they don’t bounce so often compared to personal checks. So, if you were wondering, “where can I cash a government check”- we hope you can pick from one of the six options on our list to cash your government-issued check. Take time to see how they compare and choose one that best serves your needs.