Can You Cash Checks at an ATM?

By Emily Greenhill Pierce · October 18, 2023 · 8 minute read

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Can You Cash Checks at an ATM?

If your paycheck or another check is burning a hole in your wallet, you might be able to cash it at an ATM. Depositing a check into an ATM can be a convenient, painless way to get your cash fast.

If you don’t have access to remote banking or just can’t make it to a bank during business hours, cashing a check at an ATM can be an excellent alternative. Here’s what you need to know in order to make the transaction happen, including answers to:

•   When can you cash checks at ATMs?

•   What are the steps to cash a check at an ATM?

•   What kinds of checks can be cashed at an ATM?

•   What are alternative ways to cash a paper check?

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Steps to Cash a Check at an ATM

The first thing you’ll need in order to cash a check at an ATM is a checking account. A checking account traditionally comes with an account number and a debit card. You will need both of these.

Make sure you’ve activated your debit card, selected and memorized a PIN number, and know your account number. The debit card and PIN number are essential for performing the most basic of transactions, including making ATM deposits and withdrawals.

Once you have your account details, card, and PIN number, cashing your check at an ATM is pretty much the same as making a cash deposit at an ATM. Most banks will require you to have a minimum amount in your checking account in order to cash your check.

Here are the steps to cashing a check at an ATM:

•   Endorse the back of your check. With a pen (not pencil), sign your name on the back of your check and write your account number. Security tip: Wait until you get to the ATM location to sign the back of your check, even if you have to bring a pen with you. If an endorsed check gets lost or stolen, someone else could cash it.

However, do add your signature before your turn at the ATM itself to save time and as a courtesy to those waiting behind you.

•   Fill out a deposit slip. Some banks may still require you to fill out a deposit slip to insert into the ATM along with your check. The deposit slips are typically available in the bank branch or the ATM area. Some banks may require you to put a check and the slip into a deposit envelope.

•   Insert a compatible card. To begin the transaction, you’ll need a valid ATM card, debit card, or prepaid debit card issued from a bank or credit union.

•   Enter your PIN. After inserting your card, the ATM will prompt you to enter your personal PIN number. Do not share your PIN number with anyone.

•   Follow the prompts. Follow the ATM’s instructions that appear on the screen. This can involve selecting “Make a deposit” and “Get cash back” and entering a dollar amount.

•   Insert the check into the machine. The ATM will invite you to make your deposit. If no check envelope is used, it will scan your check and ask you to confirm the amount.

If you are a customer who qualifies for same-day deposits, you may be able to withdraw funds right away, essentially “cashing your check” while avoiding additional transaction fees. In other situations, you may only have, say, $225 available to withdraw.

One thing to keep in mind: Even an in-network machine may have ATM withdrawal limits — typically between $500 and $1000 per day.

With some bank’s ATMs and account types, the funds may not be available until the second business day after the deposit. And if you are using an out-of-network ATM, you may be charged additional ATM transaction fees, and it can take up to 5 business days before you see the money in your account.

Types of Checks That May Be Cashed at an ATM

There is more than one kind of check. Personal, cashier’s, and certified checks are all ways to distribute sums of money without the risk of handling cash. But what kind of checks will an ATM accept?

Here are some check types you can feed an ATM that won’t get spit back out:

•   Personal checks. If you find yourself wondering, “Can I cash a personal check at an ATM?”, the answer is “yes!” So, go on — deposit that birthday check from Aunt Trudy. You can even write a check to yourself from another account and deposit it.

•   Cashier’s check. A cashier’s check draws on a bank’s funds and is signed by a cashier to guarantee the money. To cash this kind of check, it is beneficial to use an ATM connected to the bank that issued the check. You can also deposit it in your own bank’s ATM if you want the money to go into your account.

•   Certified checks. Like cashier’s checks, certified checks are issued by the bank but signed by you vs. a cashier. As long as you have your debit card, you can go ahead and deposit it in the ATM.

•   Any pre-printed check. Basically, any pre-printed can be deposited and withdrawn against at an ATM if your bank allows it. Government checks (such as a tax refund check) are the easiest for a bank to verify, and you might get your money right away. Foreign-issued checks may take longer to process.

Do All ATMs Support Check Deposits?

Not all ATMs support check deposits. Some ATMs located in grocery and convenience stores, restaurants, and other businesses may only have the ability to dispense cash and check your bank balance.

If you’re looking to cash a check at an ATM, your best bet is to use the machine at your bank. Most major banks and credit unions support check cashing at their ATMs. Plus you’re likely to avoid ATM fees.

Alternative Ways to Cash a Check

You don’t have to use an ATM to turn your paycheck into paper money. There are other ways to cash a check for free because who wants to pay more in bank fees? These techniques include:

•   Go to a bank teller. If you have time during business hours, you can cash your check the old-fashioned way. Your bank branch or credit union will likely perform the service, as long as you have a deposit slip, debit card, a valid ID, and meet your account’s requirements.

•   Go to the check distributor’s bank. You may be able to cash the check by paying a visit to the bank where the check writer holds the account. This could be a valid option if you are unbanked (don’t have any bank accounts). The check writer’s bank will probably be able to verify that the issuing account is in good standing and extract the funds for you.

•   Mobile apps. Who uses cash anyway these days? If your bank offers a mobile banking feature, also called mobile deposit, and you have a smartphone, you can use their app to snap a photo of your check and deposit it from the comfort of your living room sofa. You can gain access to your money quickly (instantly with some accounts), and pay back your bestie through Venmo.

•   Visit a retail store. Some retail shops, such as Walmart, grocery stores, and even gas stations may cash your check. However, they could charge you a small fee.

•   Check-cashing stores. The name says it all. Check-cashing businesses will give you cash for your check, but typically charge a stiff transaction fee. You may want to pursue other options and save this as a last resort due to the steep charges.

The Takeaway

Using an ATM to cash a check can be a quick and secure way to get your money. As long as you have a bank that supports check cashing, have the minimal required funds in your account, and have your debit card and PIN number ready, you’ll likely be on your way with some green in your hand.

3 Money Tips

1.    Typically, checking accounts don’t earn interest. However, some accounts do, and online banks are more likely than brick-and-mortar banks to offer you the best rates.

2.    When you overdraft your checking account, you’ll likely pay a non-sufficient fund fee of, say, $35. Look into linking a savings account to your checking account as a backup to avoid that, or shop around for a bank that doesn’t charge you for overdrafting.

3.    If you’re faced with debt and wondering which kind to pay off first, it can be smart to prioritize high-interest debt first. For many people, this means their credit card debt; rates have recently been climbing into the double-digit range, so try to eliminate that ASAP.

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Can you deposit a check at an ATM?

It depends on your bank or credit union, but most banking institutions allow you to deposit checks at an ATM.

How long does it take to cash a check at an ATM?

As long as you’ve endorsed your check, written the account number on the back, and have your debit card and PIN number ready, cashing a check at an ATM shouldn’t take more than a few minutes if the financial institution makes the funds available. Not all ATMs will be this fast; in some cases, it will take at least two days for the funds to clear.

Can any type of check be cashed at an ATM?

As long as the routing and account number are legible, you can insert most traditional check types into an ATM. Personal and government-issued checks will probably be validated and credited to your account faster.

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