The easiest way to cash checks is at a bank with which you have an active bank account. Otherwise, it takes a combination of effort, time, and money, to cash a check.

For bank customers, whether it is at an ATM or a bank teller, depositing a check is usually a walk in the park. But, consumers who don’t have a bank account may find themselves in a heap of frustration trying to cash a check. reader Pamela was exactly in this situation when she said, “I need a bank that doesn’t require an account to cash a check.”

How Non-Customers Can Cash Checks at a Bank

Pamela’s best chances of cashing a check at a bank, where she doesn’t have an account, is to go to the same bank that issued that check. Simply look at the front face of that check to find the bank.

For example, if Bank of America® shows up as the issuer on the check, she can visit a Bank of America® branch and the teller will be able to cash it, despite not having an account with Bank of America®. If she took this check to Citibank and she didn’t have a Citibank account, Citibank will not cash it.

Typically, banks will not cash a check unless it can verify the fund availability on the spot or you have an account with the bank. Their concern is that there are insufficient funds on the account issuing the check or that the check is counterfeit.

If banks did allow non-customers to cash checks, they’re stuck not knowing whether they’ll get the funds while you already walked off with the money. This is the reason why it takes several days for a check to “clear” – the receiving bank has to communicate and verify information with the issuing bank.

In the unfortunate case that the check-issuing bank doesn’t operate a local branch, Pamela will have to visit a check-cashing center that will most likely charge a fee and may even require a signed contract as it is taking on risk.

  • Read: Using Only Cash: How to Survive the Cash-Only Lifestyle

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