Many grocery stores offer check-cashing services, typically at their customer service desks but sometimes at the cash register as well. Taking advantage of this option isn't much different from visiting a bank, credit union or check-cashing store. You'll endorse the check and most likely provide photo ID, such as a current driver's license.
The process can become a bit more complicated, however, if you want to pay for your groceries at the same time. Checks are often subject to certain dollar limits as well.
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Which Grocery Stores Will Cash a Personal Check?
The list of grocery stores that cash checks is extensive. It includes Albertsons, Dillons, Food Lion, Kroger, Publix, Safeway, ShopRite, Wegmans and Winn-Dixie, and that's just the tip of the iceberg. But there's a big catch here. Not all of these chains will cash personal checks. Some limit their services to certain types of checks, such as payroll checks, government checks and tax refund checks, according to First Quarter Finance.
Checking the Store’s Policies
You won't know what your local go-to grocery store's policy is unless you ask. Call in advance so you know what to expect.
Many stores charge check-cashing fees, although they're not typically prohibitive. Walmart charges a maximum $4 fee for most checks of up to $1,000 and $8 for checks of more than $1,000 up to $5,000. And yes, Walmart does cash personal checks, but you'll pay a higher fee and these checks are subject to a lesser limit: up to $6 for checks of up to just $200. Walmart will only cash two-party personal checks, not third-party checks that are endorsed or signed over to another individual.
The rules vary by store. Each store in a certain chain doesn't always apply the same requirements and limits.
Which Other Stores Might Cash My Check?
Check cashing isn't limited to large store chains that sell groceries. A good many department stores offer check-cashing services as well. Walmart offers check cashing in almost every state except New Jersey, subject to those fees and rules. Kmart cashes checks and offers some very competitive fees, often less than $1. The service is free in eight states, Puerto Rico and Guam. But limits apply to the amounts of the checks you can cash.
The store doesn't necessarily have to be part of a big national chain, so it can pay to call ahead to your local mom-and-pop grocery and ask. The same goes for convenience stores and gas stations.
Could I Pay for My Groceries With a Check and Get Cash Back?
The process can be a little different if you want to buy $75 worth of groceries and write a personal check for $150, which would pay for your groceries and give you $75 cash back. First Quarter Finance indicates that dollar limits apply here as well. For example, Winn-Dixie's limit is typically $100 in cash, but this can vary by location. Food Lion is more generous – you can get $200 cash back at this chain – but it's just $40 at Wegmans.
Don't wait until you're at the cash register to find out if you can pay for your groceries with a check while also getting cash back, or if your store even offers this courtesy at all. It can be limited to shoppers who have signed up for loyalty or other programs.
Can People Still Pay With Checks at Grocery Stores?
Shopfood.com indicates that many grocery stores will accept personal checks for purchases, but they typically have an electronic system in place for doing so. A cashier will slide your check into a scanner or enter its routing number and account number information manually. This will tell them the bank that the check is drawn on, if this information isn't already printed on the check, as well as whether your bank account is still open and healthy with a positive balance. The system won't give the teller your checking account balance.
Some stores will also search a database for your name to determine if you have a history of writing bad checks without maintaining a sufficient balance to cover and pay them. And it won't help you to call in advance for approval in this situation. You won't know if you're approved until you try to hand over that check at the cash register.
What Will I Need to Write or Cash a Check at a Grocery Store?
You'll need valid ID whether you want to pay for groceries or cash your paycheck. Some stores require that you register your ID in advance, according to National Check and Currency. But the exact requirements can vary by chain and by location. For example, Kroger also requires that you provide your Social Security number or other taxpayer identification number, and it will only accept certain government-issued IDs.
- National Check & Currency: Grocery Store and Bodega Check Cashing
- Walmart: Get Checks Cashed Fast
- Kroger: Check Cashing
- First Quarter Finance: 35 Grocery Stores That Cash Checks – Personal, Payroll, Insurance, Etc.
- First Quarter Finance: 16 Stores That Give Cash Back on Personal Checks
- Shopfood.com: How Do Grocery Stores Verify Checks (And If They See Your Balance)
- Kmart: Check Cashing