Cashing a check in the United States as a foreigner

Although it can be difficult to cash a check in the U.S Being a foreigner, it is not impossible. In fact, there are several companies that will allow you to cash the check, but you will have to pay a small fee for the service.

Now, each check cashing location will have different rules and requirements for cashing a check as a foreigner. Some places will charge certain fees that other sites will not, so be sure to call ahead and get all the details right.

The bank listed on the check

If you are trying to cash a check as a foreigner, the easiest place to start is with the bank listed on the check you’re trying to cash.

To find out precisely which bank it is, simply look over the note line in the bottom left corner. Once you have this information, find the nearest branch, then contact them to find out their check cashing policy.

By contacting them by phone, they can easily verify the availability of funds by checking the account balance of the check writer. Some banks will even make a phone call to the account owner as a security measure to ensure no fraud takes place.

Now, in the past, the bank listed on the check used to be the cheapest option to cash it. However, now most of the big banks have started to implement fees to cash their checks if the person does not have an account with them, which applies to you as a foreigner in the United States. In this sense, most charge a flat fee or a percentage of the amount of the check.

As we have mentioned before, each bank will have different terms and requirements for cashing checks linked to their institution. Consequently, and we have to say it again, the most infallible option to avoid any inconvenience is to call in advance and ask about their policy and rates.

On the other hand, you will probably need one or two valid forms of identification, in this case a passport, with which the bank can confirm that you really are the person to whom the check is addressed.

Walmart

Walmart is one of the most global and accessible check cashing locations on this list. With more than 5,000 locations throughout the U.S, about 90% of the country’s population lives within 15 miles of one.

Walmart also has reasonable fees of $4 for a check under $1,000 and $8 for any check over that limit. This is in line with the fees most major banks charge.

Also, the biggest advantage of cashing your check at Walmart is that they offer several payment options. For example, you can get a direct refund or a reloadable Walmart Moneycard (if applicable to you).

Gas stations and service stations

Gas stations used to be a much better option for cashing checks, but many places have stopped offering this service due to the high risk of fraud. Once the check clears, there is almost nothing the gas station can do to track down the person responsible.

But nevertheless, 7-Eleven still pays checks, and many places have a Vcom kiosk. This is basically a touch screen station where you can cash checks, pay bills, and handle other financial tasks.

grocery stores

Grocery stores are one of the most reliable and convenient options for cashing a check. You’ve probably had to go to the store for a couple of months while you’ve been in the country, which means you already know 50% of what you have to do to cash your check as a foreigner in the United States.

The process for cash a check being a foreigner in the United States it is quite simple:

  1. The person to whom the check is made out (“Pay to the order of ____”) must sign the back of the check where it says “Endorse Here.”
  2. Then go to a US bank where you have a bank account and cash the check.
  3. If you don’t have a bank account in the United States, go to the bank shown on the check or go to a retailer that can cash the check (for example, the ones we’ve already mentioned). Carry a photo ID with you, as being a foreigner you are more likely to be asked for it.

Convenience

A large amount of cash is not only cumbersome to store and transport, but if you lose it, you have little chance of getting it back. Instead, a check is the same size no matter the amount, and if it’s lost or stolen, you can have it canceled. On the other hand, the small size of the check also makes it convenient to send payments by mail or to pay large amounts on the spot.

Problems

Because cash is accepted everywhere with no preconditions, can be used and transferred anonymously. While checks are acceptable in many places, recipients can legally refuse this form of payment. The numbers and identification required by a check can leave a paper trail, offering verifiable proof of payment but making anonymity impossible.

Security

Unlike a check, anyone can steal cash and use it. In consecuense, a check is far more secure as it does not require a person to carry large amounts of cash and requires both a signature and identification to use. Interestingly, a check can present its own security risks. A potential thief can simply copy the account number and routing information from the form and use these numbers to make purchases online, for example.

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