Third-Party Check: What It Is and Where To Cash It

Article Summary:

A third-party check is a check that the original payee signs over to a second payee. They’re useful as an alternative to paying someone in cash or bank transfer. For a third-party check to be valid, the original payee must sign the back and write “Pay to the order of” and the name of the secondary payee. The best place to cash a third-party check is at banks or credit unions. If you don’t have a bank account, there are other options for cashing third-party checks. Regardless, you’ll need to bring an ID to access funds from a third-party check.

Did you know you don’t have to cash a check to get the funds to another person? You can just sign the check directly over. This is called a third-party check. Third-party checks can be a convenient way of transferring money.

Whether you are familiar with them or not, keep reading to learn all about how third-party checks work.

What is a third-party check?

A third-party check starts like any normal two-party check. One party pays another party. The payee can decide that they want to designate a third party to receive the funds, so they endorse it for a third party. This check is now a third-party check.

Reasons to use a third-party check

There are several reasons why one might use a third-party check. The following are some of the most common justifications for using a third-party check:

  1. Debt fulfillment. Jim owes Pam money. If Jim has a check for the amount he owes Pam, he can sign the check over to Pam.
  2. Third-party cashing. Michael signs a check over to Dwight, so that Dwight can cash the check for Michael.
  3. Cash alternative. Phyllis wants to give Ryan money but doesn’t have any cash on her. She does have a check on her, so she signs the check over to Ryan instead of giving him cash.

Types of third-party checks

Third-party checks may come in a few different forms. These are three of the most common types of third-party checks:

  1. Personal checks. Personal checks are the traditional type of checks that most people use. It’s a check signed by a bank account holder that authorizes the transfer of funds from the payer’s checking account to a payee. A counter check is a type of personal check that you can get blank from a financial institution and use instantly. As long as the credit union or bank’s routing number and account number on your check are current, you can still use a check with an old address.
  2. Certified checks. Certified checks also pull funds from the issuer’s checking account. The main difference between certified and personal checks is that the financial institution certifies that the payee has sufficient funds in their available checking account balance to cover the issued check.
  3. Cashier’s checks. A cashier’s check represents the issuer’s money from your bank or credit union. However, the funds are backed by the issuing bank or credit union instead of the issuer’s checking account. The money is the financial institution’s instead of the issuer’s.

Example of a third-party check

Jan and Angela are collecting money to buy a gift for their children’s teacher from the whole class. Jan collects money from some students’ parents, and Angela collects money from other students’ parents. At the end of the money collection, Jan compiles all of the money that she and Angela collected and purchases the gift.

Angela received some checks from her assigned parents in the class. She endorses them so that Jan can cash them directly. Any checks that passed from parents in the class to Angela, and then from Angela to Jan, are third-party checks.

How does a third-party check work?

A third-party check isn’t much different than a regular two-party check. It requires just one more step. First, there has to be an exchange of a check between two parties. Second, the payee must endorse the check to authorize a second payee to cash it.

After that, the second payee (or third party) can cash the check. Any of the three parties may be individuals, businesses, or entities. When mailing a third-party check, follow these instructions to make sure it gets to the third party safely.

How to endorse a check to a third party

Endorsing a check to a third party is simple. First, make sure that the check is written correctly. Then, check that the recipient’s financial institution accepts third-party checks if he or she intends to cash them there.

As the original payee, all you have to do is sign the check on the endorsement line and write “Pay to the order of” and the name of the party you want to transfer the check to. Once the original payee signs and lists the name of the third party on the back of the check, the third party can cash the check.

There are certain cases in which you can write a third-party check to yourself. Just make sure you are the authorized signer.

How long does it take for a third-party check to clear?

Once the third party cashes the check, it should take no longer than a two-party check to clear. The average check takes two business days to clear, but some circumstances could result in the check taking longer to clear. A bounced check will take about the same time to appear. Keep this in mind when considering accessing the funds before a check is cleared.

Related reading: Check out this article from SuperMoney to learn more about how long it takes for a check to clear.

When do third-party checks expire?

The law requires financial institutions to honor checks for six months past their issue date. Unless the check states otherwise, a third-party check expires six months after the original issue date, not when the check was signed to the second payee.

If you find that the check is past its expiration date, you can call the issuing bank or credit union to see if it’s still possible to cash your third-party check. The best thing to do when you receive a third-party check is cash it as soon as possible to avoid this.

Related reading:If you need to void a check before a party cashes it, take a look at SuperMoney’s article on voiding a check.

How to cash a third-party check

Cashing third-party checks is much like cashing two-party checks. Two to three components are required to cash third-party checks.

  1. Endorsement. You can’t cash a third-party check unless the check is endorsed to you and the original payee signs the back. Make sure they sign the back and write “Pay to the order of [your name]” and sign on the endorsement signature line.
  2. Identification. To cash third-party checks, you must bring a government-issued photo ID. This way they can verify that the name on the check matches yours.
  3. Payment. Some banks and credit unions charge a fee for cashing a third-party check. Check with your local bank to identify any potential fees.

Cashing vs. depositing third-party checks

Depositing and cashing third-party checks aren’t the same thing. To deposit third-party checks is to add funds directly to your bank account balance. To cash third-party checks is to turn the check directly into cash. When you cash third-party checks, the money never goes into your bank account.

There are different scenarios in which either depositing or cashing third-party checks makes sense. If you need cash on hand and you have enough funds in your checking account to make other payments, then cashing third-party checks can be a good idea. If you have some payments coming up for which you need money in your checking account, you may want to choose to deposit third-party checks.

Do you need a bank account to cash a third-party check?

No, you don’t need a bank account to cash third-party checks. Currency exchanges, some credit unions, and mobile apps allow non-account holders to cash a check. However, keep in mind that cashing a check at a financial institution can be easier and quicker.

Having a bank account is useful for many reasons, including cashing checks. If you don’t yet have a checking account, take a look at some of the account options below. These accounts may be especially helpful if you plan on cashing multiple checks, as none of the checking accounts listed charge a fee for cashing checks.

Where can you cash a third-party check?

There are a few answers to this question. You can cash a third-party check at many of the same places you can cash a regular check. However, some places don’t allow you to cash third-party checks. You can cash third-party checks at one of the following four places.

1. Bank or credit union

Banks or credit unions are the best places to cash third-party checks. You may even be able to cash a third-party check at a financial institution you aren’t a member of. If you do this, you consequently might have to pay a fee. Keep in mind that not all banks accept third-party checks.

The following banks and credit unions are among those that currently accept third-party checks:

  • Citibank
  • Navy Federal Credit Union (only when deposited to a business account)
  • Bank of America
  • Chase Bank
  • HSBC Bank
  • US Bank
  • Chartway Federal Credit Union
  • Connexus Credit Union
  • First National Bank

The following banks and credit unions are among those that don’t currently accept third-party checks:

  • Wells Fargo
  • Discover Bank
  • Allied Federal Credit Union
  • Citizens Bank
  • PenFed Credit Union

2. ATM

Some institutions only accept third-party checks in person. However, some allow you to cash third-party checks at their ATMs, though only current account holders are eligible for this service. Before attempting to cash a third-party check at an ATM, check with your local institution to make sure it’s allowed.

Pro Tip

Don’t guess when it comes to cashing a third-party check at an ATM. If you try to cash a third-party check at an ATM that doesn’t accept them, the ATM could keep the check. If that happens, you’ll have to wait for the financial institution to mail the check back to you.

3. Online banking

You may be able to cash third-party checks through your mobile device. Some banks and credit unions accept third-party checks through their online banking systems. In fact, some mobile apps allow you to cash third-party checks without having a bank account.

Once you submit the check on your app, hold it until the institution confirms it cleared. Here are some mobile check cashing services you may be able to use to cash third-party checks:

  • Chime
  • CashApp
  • Zelle (requires use by enrolled customers only)
  • Google Pay

4. Check cashing stores

Check cashing stores or currency exchanges can help you out with cashing a third-party check. Unfortunately, not all check cashing stores offer this service. Here are a few that do:

  • Check Into Cash
  • Money Mart Source
  • ACE Cash Express
  • Advanced Financial
  • The Check Cashing Store


What is the best way to cash a third-party check?

The best way to cash third-party checks is to take them in person to your credit union or bank.

Can I cash a third-party check without a bank account?

Yes, non-account holders can cash third-party checks. Some mobile apps, check cashing stores, and credit unions offer third-party check cashing services to people without checking accounts.

Will Walmart cash an endorsed third-party check?

You can’t cash third-party checks at grocery or convenience stores. Some Walmart stores accept two-party checks, but no Walmart stores currently accept third-party checks.

Where can I instantly cash a third-party check online?

You may be able to instantly cash a third-party check online with apps like Google Pay or CashApp. Certified checks and cashier’s checks may clear faster than personal checks.

Can I cash a check that is not in my name?

You can’t cash third-party checks that aren’t in your name. The original payee must sign the back of the check and write “Pay to the order of” and your name. You will also need to show a government-issued ID when you cash a third-party check.

Key Takeaways

  • Third-party checks are checks transferred to a third party from the original payee. They can be a convenient way to transfer funds directly, instead of first depositing them into your bank account.
  • The most important part of third-party checks is the endorsement. The original payee must sign the back and write “Pay to the order of” and the name of the secondary payee. When you want to cash the check, you’ll need to make sure that your name is on the check and bring your ID to verify your identity.
  • The best place to cash a third-party check is at banks or credit unions. You can also cash third-party checks at a check cashing store, ATM, or mobile app. Keep in mind that not all financial institutions accept third-party checks.
  • You don’t need a bank account to cash a third-party check. If you don’t have a bank account, you may be able to cash third-party checks at check cashing stores or on your mobile app. Whether you have a bank account or not, there may be fees associated with cashing a third-party check.
View Article Sources
  1. My daughter endorsed her check and I tried to cash it for her, but the bank refused. Can the bank do this? —
  2. Can I pay my taxes with a third party check? — East Windsor Town Hall
  3. Can I Write a Check to Myself? — SuperMoney
  4. How To Mail a Check Safely and Can You Fold It? — SuperMoney
  5. What is a Counter Check? Definition & Example — SuperMoney
  6. Single vs. Duplicate Checks: What Are the Differences? — SuperMoney
  7. How To Cash a Cashier’s Check — SuperMoney
  8. Where Can I Cash a Check If I Don’t Have a Bank? — SuperMoney
  9. Can I Use a Check with an Old Address? — SuperMoney
  10. Bounced Check: What To Do When You Write Or Get One — SuperMoney
  11. How to Correctly Write a Check With Cents and Dollars — SuperMoney
  12. How Long Does It Take For A Check To Clear — SuperMoney
  13. Do Checks Expire If Not Cashed? — SuperMoney
  14. How to Void a Check — SuperMoney