The world is clearly moving away from paying for things with cash. Ironically, as we discussed previously, there continues to be more currency printed each year.  There are clearly disadvantages to continuing to hold onto cash. In addition to it being a nuisance to carry around, getting access to your cash can often be inconvenient. You have to go to a bank at certain hours of the day, or locate and go to particular ATMs otherwise face a fee! A less talked about inconvenience stems from being able to cash checks.

Going to Cash a Check Can Be Complicated

A study from the Atlanta Fed found had several interesting findings about check usage and check cashing in the United States.

  • Check payments had an average value of $300, more than three times other payment transactions.
  • Consumers wrote on average three checks a month.
  • About 7% of transactions in 2017 and 2018 were done using checks.

Of course, 7% isn’t an enormous figure, but when you think about the size of the U.S. and the annual amount spent by consumers each year – trillions of dollars – it is far from insignificant. This brings us to the issue at hand: virtually every form of financial transaction requires some level of identity verification. To use your credit card, you need a PIN which is a Personal Identification Number. To use online payment services such as PayPal you to verify your ID to set up the accounts. However to cash a check, do you actually need ID? Is it possible to cash a check without ID?

It is Possible to Cash a Check Without ID

Many banks, financial institutions, and businesses across niches have to abide by the KYC guidelines (also known as Know Your Customer/Client guidelines) and ensure proper customer identification. That is critical as it helps to prevent financial crimes, including money laundering and identity theft. This is in large part why these institutions insist on identity verification whenever there’s a transaction. Cashing a check also will generally require identification, but there’s a way around it, and we’ve detailed it below. Read on to learn how!

Contact The Bank That Issued The Check

Despite photo identification being required for all adult Americans, over 11% of the US adult population (∼21 million people) still do not have valid, government-issued photo identification. Many adults have expired IDs. Some have misplaced or lost them and not had a chance or to replace them. Some have just never even taken out their IDs. However, regardless of the reason, if you find yourself without ID, there’s still a way you cash your check. You should contact the bank that issued the check in the first place. You’ll find the name of the bank that issued the check on the check itself. If there’s no name, you can look up the fractional number located in the upper right-hand corner.

The issuing bank can help you find the best way to cash a check if you don’t have a state-issued ID. Depending on the bank in question, you might be able to use other forms of ID, including:

  • Driver’s license;
  • Passport;
  • Military ID;
  • Permanent resident card;
  • Employment authorization card;
  • Welfare ID;
  • Birth certificate.

Not all banks accept every form of ID, so you’ll need to check with the bank in question to find out what you can do to cash your check.

Visit Large Retail Stores With Check Cashing Services

Many large retail chains such as Money Mart, Walmart, and Kroger offer cash-checking services where you might be able to cash a check without ID. However, you might have to shop around until you find a branch that will cash the check for you. Most retail stores will ask for some proof of identification, but Money Mart is known for cashing smaller checks without IDs. In fact, few retail stores will cash larger checks without ID. Additionally, you’ll need to keep in mind that many retailers will charge a fee for cashing checks.

Take Advantage of Your Bank’s Mobile App

If your bank offers mobile banking services, download their mobile application as this could be a loophole for you. At this point most banks will have an app that you can download from the App Store or Google Play store. You can read the information and reviews on the application before downloading to confirm that the app will let you deposit a cash without ID. Of course, you’ll need to be signed up for the service and will need a bank account.

how to cash a check

As an example, above is an infographic from J.P. Morgan Chase Bank that shows instructions for how to deposit stimulus checks with their mobile app. Most banks will have similar instructions. Follow the instructions in the app on how to photograph the check and transfer the money. Depending on the amount transferred, you might have to wait a few days until the check clears and the money is deposited into your account. You can then withdraw your cash from an ATM. This is a method that will allow you to cash a check without ID, but admittedly it’s still not the most convenient approach.

Transfer the money to a re-loadable prepaid card

Virtually all re-loadable prepaid cards allow you to transfer funds from a check to the card without a photo ID, including Walmart and CVS prepaid cards and even PayPal cards. With PayPal cards though, you will need an ID to create a PayPal account. If you already have a re-loadable prepaid card, you can use mobile check deposits to transfer the funds. Expect to wait a while until the money becomes available on your card. That’s the clear downside with this approach. Many re-loadable prepaid cards have long waiting periods, some up to 10 business days, for checks to clear.

Sign the check over to a trusted friend or family member

The fastest and easiest way to cash a check without ID is by signing it over to another person. This could be a trusted friend or family member. Before you do so, you’ll want to contact the issuing bank to see whether it allows this type of endorsement. Assuming the bank permits it then all you have to do is turn the check over and state who you’re endorsing it to on the backside. Write “Pay to the order of” and then enter the full name of the new recipient. Sign the back of the check and be sure to leave room for the person you’re signing it over to. They will also have to sign the check. Make sure that the person you’re endorsing the check to is a person who does have a valid ID. Otherwise, it won’t make cashing the check any easier as they’ll be in the same position you were in.

Final thoughts – there are ways to cash a check without ID

Although difficult, it is possible to cash a check without ID. Some methods are tedious but still get the job done. So hopefully one of the above methods works for you. Regardless, it is in your best interest to get a valid, state-issued photo ID to avoid any future issues regarding cashing checks or using other banking services.