Mobile Check Cashing: How It Works and the Best Free Apps

Nicolas Cesare  | 

Even in this age of digital finance, many of us still need to cash a check from time to time. Fortunately, checking technology is catching up quickly and making it possible to cash a check from anywhere, without stopping at the bank. Mobile checking apps on your phone or other devices allow you to cash a check remotely, using only a camera and your internet connect. Mobile check cashing is a great way to cash or deposit checks when and where it’s convenient for you, so here’s everything that you need to know.

How Mobile Check Cashing Works

In order to start cashing your checks using a mobile device, you’ll need a few things:

  • A check made out to you. Mobile check cashing is very convenient, but this convenience means that some less common forms of checking won’t be available to you. For example, you may not be able to cash a third party check using a mobile app. There may also be limits on the maximum or minimum value that you can deposit at a given time.
  • A mobile phone or other device that uses apps and has a camera. Today’s mobile checking apps are designed to work on phones that take apps, such as iPhones, phones that run on Android, or Windows phones. Check cashing apps should work with most modern phones.
  • A mobile check cashing app. There are a variety of check cashing apps available and we’ll cover some of the big ones below. Some banks have check cashing apps of their own, but you can also use an independent app if you like.

Once you have all these things ready, you’ll need to sign the back of your check, endorsing it, and take a picture of both sides of the check with your phone. Using your mobile checking app, send the photos to the bank or other financial institution that will cash your check. You may also be asked to type in the information that appears on the check, such as the amount, payee, and check number.

Once you have submitted the relevant information and the two important pictures of the check, a computer will read the check and initiate the depositing process. However, if your photos are unfocused or in poor lighting, the computer may not be able to read the information and your mobile deposit will be rejected. If this happens, you can try taking better pictures and resubmit, or you can deposit your check at your bank.

Mobile Check Cashing Through Bank Apps

Some popular check cashing apps are operated by independent developers, with no connection to any given bank. However, if it makes you feel more secure, or you want access to specific features of your account, you can ask your bank if they have a mobile checking app of their own.

Using your bank’s mobile checking app, you can deposit checks into your bank account after hours or from home as easily as if you were at your local branch. Exact terms will vary from bank to bank, so be sure to check your bank’s website for details. However, as with most in-person deposits, funds deposited through mobile checking will typically be available the next business day, although smaller checks may become available immediately.

Mobile Check Cashing for Prepaid Card Loading

If you don’t have a bank account or you’d prefer not to use yours for a particular check, mobile checking is still available to you. Some mobile checking apps will deposit the value of your check onto a prepaid card and use it like you would a credit or debit card. In this case, the check that you deposit bypasses your bank account completely and goes straight onto your prepaid card.

Can You Cash a Check After a Mobile Deposit?

Once you cash a check and you have verified that the funds are in your account, that check is null and void. You can keep the check for your own records if you like, or you can dispose of it in a secure manner — either by shredding it or manually rendering it unrecognizable — to protect yourself from identity theft. If you do hold on to the check, be sure to write “deposited” or “cashed” across the front in large letters.

Under no circumstances should you attempt to deposit a check in-person at local bank branch or check cashing store if you have already cashed that check using a mobile checking app. This is checking fraud, and the bank will find out that you’re attempting to defraud them. Each check has a unique identifying number, so duplicate checks are easy to identify.

Mobile Check Cashing Apps

There are many mobile check cashing apps available. Here are some of the most well-known apps out there:

Your Bank’s Mobile Checking App

Many major U.S. banks, such as Bank of America, Chase, or Wells Fargo have their very own mobile checking apps. The advantage of using your own bank’s mobile checking app is that it connects you directly to your checking account provider, cutting out any middlemen in the process. Bank-specific apps may also be loaded with other features related to your account. However, bank-specific apps are exactly that: tied to a particular bank. So if your bank has an app that doesn’t run well or that you don’t like, you’re stuck with it unless you want to switch banks or use an independent app.

Lodefast Check Cashing App

Lodefast is an independent financial group with its own check cashing app. Unlike many other independent apps, Lodefast allows you to deposit your checks directly into your bank account, rather than using a prepaid card. Lodefast is more flexible than apps that are tied to a specific bank, but you can expect to be charged a 3 to 5 percent processing fee for each check that you cash using the app.

Ingo Money

Ingo money is a popular checking app with options for consumers as well as small businesses. The app is incredibly versatile, with options to deposit money onto a prepaid card from Visa, Mastercard, or American Express or to deposit your checks into a PayPal or Amazon account. Unlike many independent checking apps, Ingo Money does allow you to deposit checks into your bank account. The app guarantees your funds within 10 days with no fee, although there is a fee option if you’d like speedier processing.

Check Deposit Apps for Prepaid Cards

Many independent check cashing apps will allow you to deposit your checks onto a prepaid card, rather than sending them to your bank account. This allows them to work freely with a wide variety of users without going through the hassle of working with each individual bank. Here are some popular apps to consider:

Boost Mobile Wallet

Boost Mobile Wallet uses a prepaid Mastercard to deposit checking funds onto. This app is exceptionally speedy and most users will have access to their funds just minutes after submitting check photos. The app is subscription-based, so it can be ideal if you find yourself depositing a lot of checks each month. For example, if you work as a freelancer with a wide range of clients. Fees for Boost Mobile Wallet start at $1.95 per month, with additional fees for certain types of deposits (including mobile check cashing) and special services like card replacement.

Waleteros

Waleteros is a mobile checking app developed specifically for use by Latino migrants. Users are able to deposit checks over the app into a prepaid card and the app also contains unique options for sending funds abroad to countries in Latin America. The app has no monthly fee and direct deposits are free. Checks that cashed within 10 days have no fee, but faster options and government check deposits will be charged a fee. International payments come at no cost.

The Check Cashing Store

This popular chain is exactly what the name suggests: a store where you can go to cash checks. In addition to many brick and mortar locations, the store also offers mobile checking through its app. Unlike many other apps, which exist solely in cyberspace, The Check Cashing Store has many physical locations that you can go to if you’re having trouble with the app. However, The Checking Cashing Store provides no fee schedule for the app on their website, so if you decide to use it, be sure to track your fees carefully and compare them to the fees offered by other apps.


Image Source: https://depositphotos.com/

Nick Cesare is a writer from Boise, ID. In his free time he enjoys rock climbing and making avocado toast.

This post was updated September 17, 2018. It was originally published August 24, 2018.