Checks, How To Cash A Check

In our digital world of electronic transactions done mostly via smartphone apps, old-fashioned checks are still issued for many reasons.

Whether it’s a birthday check given as a gift, or a business or government-issued check that you need to deal with, even the most techie of us need to cash checks from time to time. With that in mind, read on to find out how to cash a check quickly and efficiently.

Where Can I Cash A Check?

Take a look at the name of the bank that is written on the check, and head to the branch nearest to you. This is the first step in our ‘how to cash a check guide’. Don’t forget to bring a valid ID when you do. A passport or driver’s license are good examples.

Once you are done, present your ID to the bank teller. If you have a checking or savings account at the bank, you can deposit it into your account after presenting a valid ID or bank debit card. 

Why Does A Check Need To Be Cleared?

If you don’t need the cash right away, you can deposit your check into a checking or savings account. The advantage of this is you’ll be putting your money in a safe place. The downside to this is that you can’t get your cash right away.

You will need to wait for the check to clear. Knowing how and why a check clears is just as important as knowing how to cash a check!

Check clearing is a process wherein funds move from one account to another to settle a payment. The funds are credited to the bank account of the depositor, and debited from the account where the money is drawn.

How long does it take to clear a check? It really depends on the bank. Usually, the process takes five business days. The time it takes for a check to clear depends on the amount on the check, financial standing of the one giving the check, and your relationship with the bank.

These steps should be remembered as you go.

Other Than A Bank, Where Can I Cash A Check?

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If you live far from a bank, but need to cash a check, a lot of retailers and grocery stores offer check cashing services for less than 10 dollars. Walmart charges as low a fee as four dollars.

Kmart goes even lower, cashing checks for one dollar or less. If you are new to this process of how to cash a check, you can always enquire with the staff. They are generally more than happy to help.

Where Should I Not Cash A Check? 

If you need to cash a check but you don’t have a bank account, the worst place you can cash a check is at payday lending stores.

You run a high chance of losing money in the long run, since they charge a 10% fee based on the amount you’re banking. For example, if you have a 1,000 dollar check, you will be charged 100 dollars just to cash your check.

This is quite a hefty fee, especially when compared to the low rates of Walmart and Kmart.

What Should I Write On The Check? 

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Before you cash the check, remember to sign on the back, right on the line marked ‘X’. Some banks will ask for your address and mobile number, as well.

Feel free to check with the teller if they need any additional details from you. Ensure all information on your check is filled out accurately before handing it over. This is a very important step when learning how to cash a check. If your information is incorrect, you are essentially sending your money to the wrong place. 

What If You Do Not Have A Bank Account?

Owning a bank account does make life easier, but if for one reason or another, you don’t have an account, it’s good to know that many banks offer prepaid debit cards to people with no bank accounts.

This will allow you to deposit checks at certain ATMs. You may be charged a fee, though, depending on the card that will be used. It is highly recommended that you open an account with your bank, it doesn’t take a lot of time to do, and all you need is a valid ID and a few minutes of your time. 

How Fast Should I Cash A Check?

Now that you know the basics on how to cash a check, how fast should you do it? Do not waste any time, cash the check as soon as you get it.

This is because expiration dates play an extremely important role in the process of cashing a check. Personal checks are valid six months after the date written on the check. Once you miss the cut-off, you need to request a check reissue. Don’t forget to ask the bank to place a stop payment on your old check.

What Happens If I Lose A Check? 

No one wants to lose anything, especially something as important as a check. If and when this happens, you need to act fast to protect your finances. There will be plenty of time to cry over spilled milk later.

An immediate course of action is needed at this time. The first thing you need to do is to contact your bank and ask them to put a stop payment on the check. You need to give the bank the check number, and amount stated on the check.

You will be then required to fill out a couple of forms for the bank. This is precisely why you should jot down all the important information written on a check once the check is in your hands, and keep it in a safe and secure place.

What If My Check Is Fake?

It feels great to receive a check after you have worked hard for it. But what if once you go to the bank to cash a check it bounces?

If a check bounces because it is a fake, you are basically left without your money. It would do well to make a report to the police and cooperate in giving any information they might need.

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How Will I Know If My Check Is Fake

Avoid being a victim of check fraud by checking the amount on the check once you receive it. The check shouldn’t stray too far from the amount you were meant to receive.

Additionally, double check the name and business address of the payee. Make sure the check is not missing other parts like a bank logo, bank address, or an important signature. You can also search for perforated edges along the sides of the check. Most legitimate checks will have at least one perforated edge. If all edges are smooth, it might indicate the check was printed off of a computer.

Should you run into any of these red flags, notify your bank immediately. If you got the check through the mail, contact the US Postal Inspection Service ASAP.

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