How to Cash a Tax Refund Check

If you have chosen to receive your refund by check, there are several cashing options. Some involve a fee. Be prepared to show some form of identification, such as your driver's license or state ID.

Portrait of couple looking at bill
A couple is looking at an invoice.
credit: AndreyPopov/iStock/Getty Images

Banks

If you have a bank account, your bank will cash your refund check without charging a fee. If you don't have one, you can cash the check at any bank. Some will charge a small fee for the service because you are not a customer. The amount varies by bank but is typically less than $10. Also, you could use the check to open an account, which is free.

Check-Cashing Businesses

Check-cashing businesses charge a fee for their service that depends on the value of the check. It could be a percentage of the check or a flat fee for certain amounts that gradually increases for bigger amounts. Most check-cashing businesses charge an additional fee for the transaction. Many small grocery and convenience stores also offer this service.

Large Retailers

Some large stores offer check-cashing services. These include retailers like Wal-Mart and Publix. The stores often charge much lower fees than you would have to pay at a check-cashing store. For instance, Wal-Mart charges a flat fee of $3 for any amount up to $1,000 and $6 for checks from $1,000 to $6,000. Some waive their fees if you make a purchase at the store and use the check for payment.

Prepaid Cards

A prepaid debit card offers the benefits of a debit card without a bank account. You can receive this card instead of money when you cash your check. The difference between these and bank debit cards is that the former is not linked to an account, there is no protection if it is stolen and you can spend only the amount you have loaded. Apart from these differences, the prepaid debit card works like a bank debit card and is convenient if you don't have a bank account. There is an initial fee that varies by brand. Prepaid cards are available at various locations, including retail and convenience stores.