What To Do if You Win and Don’t Have a Bank Account
If you win a monetary prize and don’t have a bank account, there are still ways you can collect your prize money and cash your prize check. The first thing you should find out is what methods of payment does the sweepstakes site offer to their winners. Some will have a selection of payment options such as a check by mail, a gift card, or a pre-paid debit card. The only one of those three choices you would need a bank account for would be if you request to be paid by check. If you don’t have a bank account, you can still take a check payment and there are a few ways you could cash it.
A gift card or a pre-paid debit is the easiest way to collect your prize money without needing a bank account. Of course, the other option is to take the prize itself, if that’s what you’ve won, rather than the cash equivalent. Most sweeps sites offer gift cards as payment and some offer payments through cash apps such as Venmo or PayPal. If you have one of those accounts, you can spend your money from the app and not necessarily need to transfer it to a bank account. Many online merchants have PayPal as a payment method so you could easily spend it right from your account as you find things you’d like to buy or pay for. If you don’t have a cash app, signing up is simple and free.
Most towns and cities have check cashing places where you can take your check, along with a valid ID card, and get it cashed for a fee. Some will charge a flat rate per dollar and others may charge a percentage of the check total. If you would rather not pay a check cashing fee, you still have some options available.
The first one is, you could open a bank account with the prize check so you will have somewhere safe to keep your prize money. If you decide to open your own bank account, do some research to find out if you can get a no monthly fee account, whether it’s a checking or savings account. You can do a search on Google and see what comes up. Capital One, PNC, Chime, Ally, and others are currently offering no fee and no minimum deposit. They are, for the most part, online only banking offers, which means you would need their app in order to manage your account from your phone or computer. Then you could deposit the check through the app and go to an ATM to withdraw the cash once the check clears.
Depending on the amount, you could also ask a friend or relative to cash it for you. You would simply sign the back of the check on the top line, and they would need to sign underneath your name. That’s what’s called a double-endorsed check and it means you are turning the check over to them. So, be sure it’s someone you know and trust who will help you to cash the check before you decide to sign it over to them.
Another option is, some retail stores will cash a check for you. If you have local merchants in your area who know you, that could be a place to start. If the check isn’t too large for them to handle, you might be able to sign it over to them in exchange for the cash. Just be sure not to endorse the check until you’ve figured out which way you’re going to cash it. Once you sign the back of the check anyone can cash it, so keep it in a safe place until you are at the location you’re going to get the cash from.