You can get the money from your federal refund check faster if you cash it than if you deposit it and wait for it to clear. This might be the only option if you don't have a bank or credit union account. There are several options for check-cashing, although some require a fee. Compare the costs to find one that is most affordable for you.
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Bank or Credit Union
Any U.S. bank or credit union can cash your federal refund check because it is drawn on the U.S. Treasury. Some banks charge non-members a fee of $4 to $10 for the service, but it would be free where you have an account. If you don't have an account and you wish to avoid the fee, you could open an account with a bank of your choice, using the check as a deposit.
Check-cashing businesses cash most checks, but they might be the most expensive option. Fees vary by provider but are often a percentage of the check or a fixed fee that increases above a certain amount plus a transaction fee. Some charge as much as 15 percent of the check. Many check-cashing businesses operate in standalone stores but you can also find this service in small grocery stores, convenience stores and gas stations.
Some large retailers provide check-cashing services. They charge for the service, but the fees are typically much lower than what you would pay at a check-cashing place and at some banks. For instance, Wal-Mart charges $3 for checks up to $1,000 and $6 for checks from $1,001 to $7,500. Some retailers will cash your check if you spend a portion of it at the store. Unlike other options, there is a limit on the amounts these stores can cash, which varies. For example, Wal-Mart can cash checks of up to $7,500 while Kmart limits it to $2,000.
If you wish to carry the money from your check in a secure form, you could have it loaded directly onto a prepaid card instead of receiving cash. Some check-cashing service providers, like Wal-Mart and Kroger, offer this service. Some prepaid cards also accept direct deposits, so you could receive your refund this way in the future. There are fees to use these cards and these vary by provider.