When someone writes you a personal check, you have a couple of different options for cashing the check. Banks, credit unions and check-cashing service stores are the primary options to cash a personal check. The procedures for cashing the check or the check cashing policies may vary slightly from institution to institution, but primarily the steps are the same.
First, you have to choose the place where you can cash a personal check. If you choose a bank or credit union, it is best to use your own financial institution or the institution where the check is from — the check writer’s bank or credit union. Typically, if you have an account at the bank or are planning to cash a personal check from the issuing institution, then you generally do not incur a fee. Check cashing service stores tend to charge a percentage of the check amount as the fee for cashing the check.
Turn the check over to the back. You’ll see an endorsement line or box on the upper end of the backside of the check. A check endorsement is usually just the signature of the person that the check is made payable to. If you are planning to cash the check at your own bank, the bank may also require that you write your bank account number under your signature. Make sure you sign the check just as it is made out on the front of the check.
Once you prepare the check and take it to your institution of choice, you generally have to show a form of legal identification. Legal identification is usually your driver’s license or your state issued identification card. Government issued picture identification cards are also forms that banks and check cashing institutions accept. It is important that the legal identification has your picture, signature and legal name information as it appears on the check.
A bank where you have an account may not require that you show legal identification to cash a personal check. Some banks only require that you slide the bank issued debit or ATM card. You will also have to enter your personal identification number (PIN), if you opt to slide your debit card in lieu of showing a picture identification card.
Banks and credit unions will hand over the full amount of the cash the check is written for. A check cashing store or service, on the other hand, will deduct its fee out of the check amount. You will receive the difference between the check amount and the fee amount when you cash a personal check this way.