With the dawning of the Internet and mobile application age, you can skip the trip to the bank altogether and cash a check by simply downloading an app and taking a photo.
Online Banking Apps
Check whether your bank offers a downloadable mobile check application you can use on your smartphone or tablet. Find a bank's check-depositing apps in app stores compatible with your device: for iPhone, search the Apple App Store; for Android, find on Google Play; for Windows phones, check for apps by your bank in the Windows application store.
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Once the app is downloaded, follow the protocol specified by your bank. Essentially, you take a picture of the front and back of your endorsed check using your smartphone or tablet and upload the photos to your bank, thereby effecting a remote "cashing" of your check. You do not surrender the actual check to the bank.
According to Consumer Reports, you can expect the bank to hold mobile-deposited funds from one to 10 business days before they are available to your account.
If you don't have a bank account or prefer to transfer the check's funds into your PayPal account, you can also download PayPal's mobile check capture app, which works similarly to bank apps in that you take a photo of the front and back of a check. The name on the check must coincide with that of the PayPal user, and only personal and business checks are accepted. Once you launch the app, click Add Money from Checks, take the photos and designate the amount, then click Capture New Check.
Prepaid Account Apps
As an alternative for check-cashers who don't have a bank account, you can use a prepaid card offered through a bank, along with a third-party app such as Ingo Money, to "cash" the funds to a prepaid account. With this option, your bank can offer the check-deposit feature for free but charge a monthly fee for the prepaid card. On top of this, Ingo charges additional transaction fees for you to take a picture of the check and deposit it to the prepaid account via its app.
If you receive routine checks such as weekly paychecks or benefits checks, you can forgo the extra steps of mobile depositing by setting up direct deposit with your bank through your online bank account. You get access to funds as the bank receives them, often on the same or the next business day.