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Venmo just introduced a check-cashing feature to its popular mobile payment service, and in a magnanimous move, it’s also temporarily waiving the standard 1% fee for anyone cashing a covid stimulus check. TechCrunch reports Venmo’s new Cash a Check service is rolling out to select iOS and Android users as of this morning, and those users can now use the Venmo app to cash printed payroll and U.S. government checks—including covid stimulus checks, fee-free.
Eligible users must have an active Venmo account in good standing. Direct Deposit or Venmo Debit Card will also need to be enabled, as well as location services and a verified email address. Full details on how to cash a check with through Venmo are provided here. This is useful if your bank charges a fee to cash checks, or if you don’t have a bank account. (Venmo’s Direct Deposit requires a link to an account at a financial institution, but Venmo Debit Card does not.)
Venmo’s check-cashing feature works the same way as using mobile deposit through a banking app. Sign the back of your check, take a photo of the front and back, and submit. Venmo says the check approval process, which is handled by First Century Bank and Ingo Money, takes only a few seconds, although can take upwards of 3-5 minutes in some cases. In rare cases, it can take up to an hour. (Ingo Money is the same financial institution that handles check deposits for a similar feature on PayPal’s app, Venmo’s parent company.)
If you didn’t set up your first covid stimulus payment to go directly into your Venmo account, there isn’t a way to change that for the second payment unfortunately. The federal government isn’t opening the direct deposit portal again, Venmo notes on its FAQ page. But if you expect a paper check to come in the mail, which the IRS started sending out on Wednesday, Dec. 30, the new Cash a Check feature is a way around that.
Vaguely, Venmo doesn’t provide a hard end-date for its fee-free covid check-cashing offer. In the fine print, the company says, “Offer ends when the $400,000 USD cap has been reached.” It’s not clear if that’s a banking intuition cap on these transactions or a government-mandated cap, but Venmo is crystal clear that this is a limited time offer. If you already have your $600 check in-hand and want to keep that $6 in processing fees, do it now.
If you don’t have your stimulus payment yet, head over to the Get My Payment portal on the IRS website, and read a book, crochet a sweater, or bake a lasagna while you wait. The website is currently overloaded with requests and could take a while to open the portal, but once you’re in it will tell you when your check was or will be mailed.