Checks made payable to "Cash" rather than the name of a person or business can be cashed just like any other check. Making the check out to cash is convenient if the person writing it doesn't know who to make the check out to. But this type of check can also pose risks because anyone can cash it. It is important that you understand how easy it is for anyone, including thieves, to cash a check like this so you can avoid problems down the road.
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At Your Bank
If someone else wrote you a check made out to cash, you can cash the check at a bank you have an account at. This requires a signature on the back using the same name as listed on your account. Write your account number under your signature.
Cashing at Issuing Bank
If you don't have a checking account, you can try cashing the check at the issuing bank. Some banks are reluctant to cash checks made out to cash and might refuse, but others will be willing to cash the check. Come prepared to show at least one form of photo identification if the bank allows you to cash it. The bank will ask you to endorse the check on the back, then compare the signature with your identification before giving you the cash. The bank might also write your driver's license number and other identifying information on the back. You might be charged a service fee since you do not have an account there.
Writing It to Yourself
When you need cash, you can write a check to "cash" and take it to your bank to obtain an immediate withdrawal from your account. The bank will check to see if you have enough money in your account to cash the check. It will then likely ask for identification, ask you to endorse it on the back and compare your signature to the one on file before giving you the cash. The better choice is to write your own name rather than "cash" in the "Pay to the Order of" field so no one else can easily cash the check if it is lost or stolen before you reach the bank.
Some check-cashing stores, such as Moneytree and Ace Cash Express, will handle a check made out to cash. Plan to pay a flat fee as well as a percentage of the amount of the check with each store setting its own fee structure. If you don't have a bank account, another option is to hand the check to a trusted friend or family member who has a bank account and ask them to cash the check for you. For tracking purposes, sign the check on the back and also write the person's name who will cash it underneath your signature.