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. There are many places to cash checks without stopping at the bank, including mobile checking apps online.

Mobile checking apps on your phone or other devices allow you to cash a check remotely, using only a camera and your internet connection. There are two main ways to make mobile check deposits, either directly into a bank or financial account, or onto a prepaid card.

How Mobile Check Cashing Works

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 checkcashing 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 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.

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 always deposit your check at your bank.

Mobile Check-Depositing Apps

There are many mobile check-cashing apps available, each with different options for best use.

Your Bank’s Mobile Check Deposit 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.

ACE Flare

How it works: The ACE Flare Mobile App allows you to deposit checks to an eligible ACE debit card, or a prepaid card. The ACE app can also be linked to a PayPal or other bank account for easy money transfers.

Cost: The app can be used for free, but the deposit may take 10 days. If you so choose, you can pay a fee for an immediate deposit.

PayPal

How it works: PayPal offers both business and personal accounts for spending and receiving money. The PayPal app offers a Cash a Check service that allows a check to be deposited into a PayPal account. PayPal provides excellent transaction services for small business owners, but it’s also valuable for personal payments. Using a PayPal account allows you to make transactions without sharing personal financial information.

Cost: There is a 10-day waiting period for free deposits, but there is also an option to pay a small fee for an immediate deposit.

Lodefast Check Cashing App

How it works: Lodefast Check Cashing App is an independent financial group with its own check-cashing app that allows you to deposit your checks directly into your bank account.

Cost: Lodefast is more flexible than apps that are tied to a specific bank, but you can expect to be charged a 3 to 5% processing fee for each check that you cash using the app.

Ingo Money

How it works: 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, into a PayPal or Amazon account, or into a personal bank account.

Cost: The app guarantees your funds within 10 days with no fee, although there is a fee option if you’d like speedier processing.

The Check Cashing Store

How it works: The Check Cashing Store is a popular chain, and it’s 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 you can visit if you’re having trouble with the app.

Cost: 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.

Mobile Check-Cashing Apps for Prepaid Cards

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. Many independent check-cashing apps will allow you to deposit your checks onto a prepaid card to use it like you would a credit or debit card, rather than depositing checks in your bank account. This allows these apps 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.

Brink’s Money Prepaid Mobile App

How it works: The Brink’s Money Prepaid mobile app allows the user to load checks with mobile image capture, transfer money to and from a savings account, send money to friends and family, and view balances and transaction histories. Participants in the plan can also enroll in direct deposit and receive paychecks up to two days faster.

Cost: There may be fees associated with the Brink’s Money Prepaid Mastercard plan, or with making account-to-account transfers.

Boost Mobile Wallet

How it works: Boost Mobile Wallet deposits your checks onto a prepaid Mastercard. This app is exceptionally speedy and most users will have access to their funds just minutes after submitting check photos.

Cost: 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 such as card replacement.

Waleteros

How it works: Waleteros is a mobile checking app developed specifically for use by Latinx individuals. 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.

Cost: The app has no monthly fee and direct deposits are free. Checks that are 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.

Netspend

How it works: The Netspend Mobile App allows the user to load personal checks or small business customer checks onto a Netspend Visa prepaid card. Money deposited into a Netspend mobile account can be monitored and transferred to other accounts.

Cost: There may be a fee that is 2% to 5% of the check, or a flat $5 fee associated with making a mobile deposit.

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 a 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.


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.