Budgeting Newsletter

Where Can I Cash a Government Check Without a Bank Account?

Have you recently received a government check and wondering, “Where can I cash a government check without a bank account?” If so, you’ve come to the right place! 

What Is a Check Cashing Service, and How Do They Work?

What can you do when you are unable to receive a check via direct deposit in a bank account? The most popular solution is a check cashing service. A check cashing service is a type of business that allows consumers to cash checks without a bank account.  

You can cash the following types of checks with most check cashing services: 

  • Personal checks. 
  • Cashier’s checks. 
  • Traveler’s checks. 
  • Some government-issued checks. 

Most Popular Check Cashing Services

Even if you don’t have an account, you may still be able to go to retail banks or credit unions in order to cash a check. However, if you go this route, you will almost certainly have to pay a fee. 

However, hany grocery stores now offer a check cashing service. Some stores where you may be able to cash your check are: 

  • Mariano’s. 
  • Wal-Mart. 
  • Jewel. 
  • Pete’s.

Pros and Cons of Cashing a Check Without a Bank Account 

Before you decide to go with a check cashing service to cash your government checks, consider the pros and cons. 

Advantages of Cashing a Check Without a Bank Account

Besides convenience, there are several advantages you can enjoy when you cash checks via a check cashing service. 

Immediate Access to Your Money

Using a check cashing service allows you to access your money right away. With some forms of deposit, there are waiting periods that can last hours or even days, but not with a check cashing service. When you walk into a check cashing store, they most likely will be able to cash your check and give you your money right on the spot! 

More Accessible Business Hours at Check Cashing Services 

Banks are known for having extremely limited hours. Many banks close well before people can get off of work, and some are even closed on Sundays or the entire weekend. These hours can make accessing a bank to cash a check extremely inconvenient. 

Check cashing services typically have much more accessible business hours, lasting well into the night and extending through the weekends. This availability allows people to cash their checks when it is most convenient for them, instead of having to work around another business’s schedule. 

Gives Individuals Without Bank Access Means of Handling Their Finances 

In many areas, brick-and-mortar banks are not common. Depending on where you live, you may have to travel quite a bit just to access a traditional retail bank. This lack of availability can be quite frustrating for people who need to cash a check but do not live close to a retail bank. Check cashing services offer check cashing convenience to people who may live in areas far away from popular chain banks. 

Disadvantages of Cashing a Check Without a Bank Account

There are also many severe disadvantages of using a check cashing service. 

Check Cashing Fees

No matter what type of check cashing service you choose, there will most likely be a check cashing fee. Check cashing fees are charges put in place by check cashing stores in order to make a profit. Depending on where you go, you may find that the servicer charges a flat fee or a certain percentage of the check amount.  

High-risk 

Many risks are often associated with using a non-bank service to cash checks. Many check cashing servicers do not require much proof of identity in order for them to put your cashing request through. This means that if you happened to lose your check, an unknown third party could find it, cash it, and take your money without your consent! 

No Insurance Protection 

Along with the risk of using a check cashing service, there is also a lack of insurance protection to consider. If you happened to lose your check and somebody else cashed it on your behalf, there may be no way to remedy the situation and get your money back. 

Depending on how much you were relying on the check you planned on cashing, losing a government check and having no way to gain access to the lost funds could be detrimental to your financial well-being. 

Associates May Bombard You With Sales Pitches

There is also a good chance you will have to go through several sales pitches during your time at a check cashing service. Agents who work at these types of companies are often required to pitch products like easy payday loans online or other unreliable forms of funding to customers who walk in. If you plan on using a check cashing service, be prepared for this so you don’t get talked into a loan you don’t want! 

What Are Some Alternatives To Check Cashing Services?

There are also other options besides a check cashing store. Check out some options below if you need to cash checks without a bank account. 

Third-Party Check Cashing

If you know a trusted friend or family member with a bank account, you could ask if they feel comfortable cashing your check as a third-party check. By cashing a third-party check, your friend or family member would deposit or cash the check using their bank account. They would then withdraw the funds and give them to you. In order to do this, you would have to sign the check over to your friend or family member first. 

Mobile Check Deposit

With online and mobile banking being so popular, it’s no wonder there are apps now that can help you cash a check directly from your smartphone. There are many mobile apps that allow you to simply take a picture of a check and cash the funds in your online wallet. While you don’t necessarily need a bank account to utilize this option, you do need some sort of online banking account. This option may be extremely convenient for Venmo, Zelle, or PayPal account holders.

Get a Prepaid Card Account

You may also choose to cash your check via a prepaid debit card. With prepaid cards, you load funds onto the card at the time of purchase. You can then use the prepaid card exactly like a credit card and spend up to your prepaid amount. Some major credit card companies that offer prepaid cards are: 

  • Visa.
  • Mastercard. 
  • American Express.

Keep in mind that there are often fees associated with prepaid cards. For example, if a prepaid card has an activation fee of $5, and you load $1,500 on the card, you will technically have $1,495 to spend on that prepaid card account. 

Which Is Better, a Bank or Credit Union?

If you are considering getting a checking account, you are probably debating between a bank or credit union. But, what is the difference between a retail bank and a credit union?

Retail banks are a traditional type of financial institution. Most people use banks to store their money and valuable possessions in a checking account, savings account, or safety deposit box. Banks are owned by investors, meaning a bank’s main goal is to receive a profit. Because profits are so important to retail banks, they usually only work with borrowers with extremely high credit scores when it comes to loans. 

Credit unions are a special type of financial institution owned by a niche group of borrowers. People can turn to credit unions for loans, as well as shared draft accounts. A share draft account is essentially the same thing as a checking account; only the account is with a credit union instead of a bank. Also, since credit unions are owned by borrowers and not investors, business profits are not the main priority. Because credit unions are non-profit organizations, they often offer special borrowers perks that you often wouldn’t be able to find with a traditional retail bank. 

Credit unions do have unique requirements of their own, however. A credit union may require borrowers to live within a certain area or work within a particular workforce in order to establish an account.

Do You Need an ID To Cash a Government Check? 

Depending on where you go, you may not need an official form of ID in order to cash a government check. However, be extremely careful before you utilize these types of services. Identity theft and fraud tend to be quite common at check cashing services that do not require an ID. 

Keep in mind that a driver’s license is not the only form of ID accepted by most financial institutions. In most cases, you may also use: 

  • A passport. 
  • A state-issued ID. 
  • Military ID. 
  • Student or university ID card (only accepted in certain circumstances). 

The Bottom Line: Cashing Government Checks Without a Bank or Checking Account

While it is possible to cash government-issued checks without having a bank account, this may not be the smartest financial decision. The convenience of a check cashing service is often offset by the risk of identity theft or fraud. Instead of putting your financial identity at risk, consider opening an account with a bank or credit union to store your money safely and securely.

References:
What Is A Check-Cashing Service? – Forbes Advisor
What is a credit union share draft account? Is it a checking account? | Consumer Financial Protection Bureau