Protecting My Money

Check-Cashing Stores

Some people don’t have a credit union or bank account and cash their paychecks at a check-cashing store. There are two really good reasons for NOT using these stores:

  1. It costs you money to cash a check at one of these places. They charge you a big fee, typically 3-7% of the check amount. This means you have less money left to spend on things you need and want.
  2. It’s not a good idea to have a lot of cash in your pocket or lying around your house. Your money is less likely to get lost or stolen if it’s in a credit union or bank.

The safest option is to open an account with a bank or credit union and deposit your checks into that account, or use that financial institution to cash the check for free. However, if you don’t have an account and you need to cash a check, it is worth looking into alternatives to check-cashing stores. The bank that issued the check may be your best bet (be sure to ask what their fees are to cash the check), and national retailers and grocery stores like Walmart and Safeway may provide cash checking services for a small fee, or even for free. Prepaid cards sometimes offer the ability to deposit a check to load the card, and if you’re not in a rush you can withdraw the funds at an ATM once the check has cleared.