How to cash a check online

Smiling woman in a lawnchair, cashing a check online using her mobile phone.Image: Smiling woman in a lawnchair, cashing a check online using her mobile phone.

In a Nutshell

While you can’t magically get paper cash in hand by cashing a check online, you might be able to use your bank’s mobile app to deposit a check and get electronic access to your funds. A check-cashing app could be another option.
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With so much of today’s banking being handled digitally, you may be wondering if you can actually cash a paper check online.

While you can’t technically cash a check in the traditional sense online, in many cases there are ways you can cash a check and get access to the funds electronically. Let’s explore how it works.

Can I cash a check online?

If you want to cash a check in the traditional sense — walking away with cash in hand — you’ll need to go to a physical location. This could include a branch of your bank or credit union, the bank or credit union from which the check was issued, or a check-cashing business. Some retailers (such as grocery stores) also provide check-cashing services.

But there are also some ways to deposit a check digitally and potentially get electronic access to some or all of the cash quickly.

Where to cash a check online

Here are some of the ways you can get access to your money if you want to deposit a check online.

Mobile check deposit

If your bank has a mobile check deposit feature, this may be a great way to cash a check electronically — especially if you want to potentially avoid paying any fees.

With mobile check deposit, all you typically need to do to deposit your check is take a picture of it using your bank’s app. Your bank may have specific instructions or requirements around endorsing a check for mobile deposit, but generally the process is fairly straightforward.  

Funds may be available within a day or so, but the timing could depend on your bank’s policies and the type of check.

If you need your funds quickly, it’s important to know that some banks may put a temporary hold on some or all of your cash. But you’ll be able to electronically access and spend any funds that may be immediately available to you — all without leaving your house. 

Check-cashing apps

If you don’t have access to mobile deposit through your bank or don’t have a bank account, you may want to consider using a check-cashing app.

Like using mobile deposit through a bank, these third-party apps allow you to use your smartphone to deposit a check digitally. Depending on the service you use, you may be able to access your money through the app, have it transferred to your own bank account or get it loaded onto a prepaid card.

You might also be able to send the funds to a money transfer service like MoneyGram, where you can pick up the cash.

But be aware that check-cashing apps typically have hold times on mobile check deposits, just like major banks do.

And while some of these apps don’t charge fees for their online check cashing services, they could charge extra if you want access to your cash quickly.

What to consider when cashing a check online

Remember that while you can’t cash a check the old-fashioned way online, it’s possible to deposit and access funds electronically. If you’re considering using your bank’s mobile app or a third-party check-cashing app, here are a few things to think about.

  • Convenience — If you don’t feel like taking a trip to your bank or other brick-and-mortar check-cashing business, you may prefer an online option.   
  • Safety — You won’t have to worry about carrying around a check and possibly losing it if you opt to cash it digitally. And banks and third-party apps typically have measures in place that are aimed at online security.
  • Fees — Understand the cost of mobile deposit. While some banks and third parties might not charge you anything to use their services, you should be aware of fees that might apply if you want your cash sooner.
  • Speed of access to funds — Funds from your mobile check deposit may or may not be available immediately.
  • Deposit limits — Limits on how many mobile deposits you can make, or how much you can deposit digitally at once, may apply.  
  • Not all types of checks are eligible — There may be limitations on the types of checks you can deposit. For example, some banks may not accept certain types of checks, like cashier’s checks, third-party checks or money orders.

What’s next?

If you’re not comfortable cashing a check online or don’t have access to a mobile banking app or service, you could always go the more traditional route of cashing checks in person.

Or, instead of receiving money in the form of a check, you could ask the person paying you to give you cash or use an electronic payment option like Zelle or Venmo.

About the author: Stephanie Colestock is a personal finance writer with a passion for helping readers take control of their money. If it has to do with planning for the future, getting out of debt, or even traveling the world on points… Read more.