What Happens When a Business Owner Receives a Business Check?
Cashing checks is an important task for every business owner and consumer, because this process ensures the transfer of money into the individual’s bank account. Online payments have grown in popularity over recent years, however many people do not trust this option due to security concerns. Therefore, it is essential that companies establish business bank accounts to process checks. However, some business owners prefer to process payments without involving banks. This is, in fact, possible.
This article will discuss how to cash checks without opening a business bank account. However, this article will also explain why it is a better idea to open a business bank account for this purpose.
If a business owner is a sole proprietor, then it is most likely that owner’s personal checking account is tied to the company. This may be convenient, but it creates liability issues. If the company faces a lawsuit, then there is nothing protecting the business owner’s assets. He or she may lose their home, car, or personal savings in a judgment.
Receiving business checks is a more serious issue, however, when the company is in the form of a limited liability company (LLC) or a corporation. This is because customers will most likely address the check to the name of the business. But without a business banking account, it will be difficult for the business owner to receive the funds.
What Are the Different Types of Checks?
There are two major types of checks: personal and business. Both of these checks are used in the same manner. Personal and business checks are drawn from an account holder’s bank account. The amount withdrawn from the account is the number written or printed on the check.
One difference between personal and business checks is the physical size of the check. Personal checks are typically the size of dollar bills and can fit inside standard wallets. Business checks, however, are larger in size. This difference assists banks in recognizing what is a business check and what is a personal check.
For a personal or business check to be considered valid, it must contain the following information:
- Account number
- Routing number
- Bank name
- The amount written as a number and spelled out
- Registered trademark of the bank that provided the check
Business checks often have security features that are not found on personal checks. For example, many business checks feature holograms or watermarks. These features help banks discover and reduce fraud.
What Are Some Common Problems with Cashing Business Checks?
Cashing business checks without having a bank account can cause problems in certain situations. For example, a business owner might receive a check from a customer who made it out to the business’ name. But let’s say the business owner has not opened a business checking account. What happens to the check and the transaction as a whole?
In this situation, where a business owner does not have a business bank account, it is likely that the check cannot be cashed. The best option would be for the business owner to open a business bank account to assure the company receives the money. However, there are other options, such as:
- Asking the customer for their credit card number
- Accepting a wire transfer (though this option will be expensive for the customer)
- Asking the customer to write a new check to the owner’s personal bank account
- Finding a check-cashing option that does not require a bank account
How Does a Business Owner Cash a Check Without a Business Bank Account?
For business owners who have a business bank account, cashing checks is an easy process. It is much more complicated for owners who have yet to open a business bank account. That said, if a business owner has not opened a business bank account, they have the following ways of cashing checks:
Cash Checks at a Retail Store
Many retail stores offer check cashing services. In fact, most Walmart stores offer these services, making it a convenient option for business owners who lack a business bank account. A business owner may show their checks to the Money Center or Service Desk for it to be cashed. However, one should be aware that check cashing is not available in every state.
The retail store will charge a fee based on the transaction type. The business owner will receive the money in the form of cash or through a Walmart MoneyCard. This card, one should note, comes with additional fees.
Usually, Walmart will not cash checks for any amount greater than $5,000. However, it is possible for a business owner to cash multiple checks when each check’s amount is below that limit. For example, an owner could cash ten checks of $4,000 each. He or she could not, however, cash a single check worth $5,001.
In order to cash a check at a retail store like Walmart, one must present a valid government-issued identification card like a driver’s license. It is possible that a business owner will be asked for a second form of ID.
Other retail stores, such as supermarkets and drugstores, also offer check-cashing services. However, they might not accept business checks in the same way Walmart does.
Example: Curtis runs a handyman business where he visits clients’ homes to perform plumbing, carpentry, and electrical jobs. He asks his clients to provide business checks as a form of payment. This is because Curtis does not like dealing with banks. Instead, he takes the checks to Walmart to be cashed. However, Curtis recently did a handyman job worth $9,000. He had to ask his client to cut two business checks worth $4,500 a piece so that he might meet the amount limit at Walmart. In general, he has clients go out of their way to make it easier for him to cash his checks.
Cash Checks at the Check-Issuing Bank
Typically, a business owner can visit the issuing bank to get a check cashed. When the owner presents the check at the issuing bank, the bank will first ensure that the check is legitimate before processing it. However, depending on the bank, they may charge a processing fee. It should be noted that this fee can be waived if the business owner decides to open a business banking account at the particular bank.
If the business owner can identify a family member or friend who has an account at the issuing bank, then it may be possible to avoid paying a fee. The bank would be able to use the individual’s account to back the check for the owner’s business. However, this is not a good option to use long-term. This is because the individual with the account at the bank must be present every time a check is cashed. Therefore, a business owner cannot cash a check if the friend or relative is unavailable. Obviously, this is inconvenient and can even create significant financial problems for a business depending on the circumstance.
Example: Marcus runs his own personal training business. He chooses not to have his own business bank account because he likes the simplicity of his money flowing directly into his personal bank account. Marcus prefers to be paid using Paypal or Zelle, but some of his clients do not like to use these services for privacy reasons. As a result, they often mail Marcus business checks for him to cash. However, Marcus is unable to cash these checks because he does not have a bank account registered for his business. Therefore, he often has to use a friend or family member’s bank account to cash checks. For example, one of his clients has an account at Navy Federal Credit Union. Luckily, Marcus has a friend who is in the military and has an account there. Whenever Marcus needs to cash a Navy Federal check, he need his friend to be present. Unfortunately, his friend is about to move to a base across the country. As a result, Marcus will no longer be able to easily cash those checks, creating a potential financial problem and inconvenience.
Cash Checks at a Cashing Store
Often, there are stores in small neighborhoods which offer check cashing services to business owners. These stores are typically lenient when it comes to cashing business checks, though this service can be quite expensive. The store will usually charge a fee that is based on a percentage of the check amount. This percentage can be 5% or more.
While these fees may not seem significant for smaller checks, costs can add up the more checks a business owner cashes, or the more regularly they use the store’s service.
Example: Elinor runs a home business but does not have a bank account devoted to her company. When she receives a business check, she must go to the local cashing store to receive money for it. However, she often loses a significant amount of money through fees. Recently, she received a check for $2,000. When she took it to the store to be cashed, she was charged a 7% fee. This means that Elinor must pay the store $140, cutting into the amount she earned. Elinor cashes one of these checks every week, meaning that in one month, she loses almost $600 in fees.
Cash Checks at Specific “Money Centers”
A money center is often willing to cash a business check, but the process comes with fees. The business owner must also fill out an application. Using a money center allows a business owner to receive cash quicker than he or she would if they went to a bank. However, a money center’s fees are quite high. This is because fees are the money center’s way of making money.
Cash Checks by Opening a Prepaid Debit Card
It is easy to cash checks by opening a prepaid debit card. Using mobile apps such as InGo allow a business owner to scan his or her business check and add cash to a prepaid debit card. While there is a fee, if a business owner is happy to wait ten days, the company may waive the fee so long as the check clears.
It should be noted that prepaid cards eventually expire. However, funds will remain safe even after expiration. If a card expires, then a business owner will need to open a new prepaid debit card and transfer the funds. This process comes with a fee.
It is a good idea to open a business bank account because it shows customers and clients that a business is legitimate and professional. It also makes depositing and cashing checks much easier and cheaper. While there are in-store and online check-cashing services for individuals without business bank accounts, these are generally not a wise long-term solution.