Life can be a little complicated when you don’t have a bank account. But, if you’re trying to make ends meet without a bank account, you aren’t alone. The FDIC in 2017 estimated that 25% of US households are “unbanked or underbanked”, meaning they either don’t have a bank account or use financial services outside the traditional banking system.
Whether you don’t trust banks or don’t have enough savings to open a bank account, there are other options for paying your bills. Here’s how to pay bills securely without a bank account.
Use a Money OrderA money order is a way to pay your bills safely using cash. Many customers prefer using a money order to bills without a checking account. Money orders can be used to pay for rent, utility bills, auto payments, and other financial obligations. Landlords and creditors tend to prefer money orders over personal checks. The security of a money order minimizes a landlord’s risk exposure, bank fees, and headaches from returned items for non-sufficient funds.
There are likely lots of places to get a money order near you. Sigue is one option that offers money orders through its extensive authorized agent network in all 50 states. Sigue authorized agents are conveniently located within your neighborhood through local retailer and merchant locations. You can find an authorized Sigue agent location by going into Sigue.com.
You can purchase a money order from any authorized Sigue location at a low fee. There is no proof of purchase required and no expiration date on money orders. Please make sure to complete and keep the stub attached to the money order in case the money order is lost and needs a replacement.
Pay in personMany companies will allow you to pay your bills in-person. Your wireless phone bill, for instance, or utility bill can be paid by visiting the nearest branch and paying cash. When you visit to pay a bill in-person, make sure to bring your bill and ask for a receipt so you can verify that someone processed your payment. Be aware that many companies charge a processing fee for paying in-person – usually $2-$3 more.
If the company doesn’t have a branch near you, some banks and retailers will also accept payment for bills and forward it to the appropriate vendor. Supermarkets, for instance, can take cash payments for utility bills as well as some major credit card bills. These retailers will also charge a service fee. Call ahead to make sure they are accepting payments for the bills you want to pay and to ask about fees.
Use a Prepaid Debit CardA prepaid or pay-as-you-go debit card is an alternative bank card that does not require you to have a bank account or credit score. You can pick up a pre-paid debit card at a bank or a retailer like Walmart and add a certain cash value to the card. The prepaid card then works at any merchant that accepts that payment network (e.g., MasterCard or Visa). There are many options for getting a prepaid debit card; AccountNow and PayPal both offer ways to have a debit card without having a checking account.
The downside to many prepaid debit cards is that once you’ve used the cash stored on the card, there are fees to recharge the value of the card; alternately, if you decide to take cash off the card, there may be withdrawal fees.
Try a Specialty Digital ServiceThere are some digital bill-payment solutions that can help you pay for rent and car payments – as well as some online purchases – in cash. Just select what you want to pay for, and then take the slip or show your digital receipt to a 7-Eleven, Family Dollar, or ACE Cash Express outlet. They will accept your cash payment and send an electronic payment on your behalf, letting the business know that you’ve paid the bill on time. There are a few caveats to using this service, however. There are fees for each payment – $3.99 per bill. Additionally, the business to which you are paying a bill needs to be signed up and if your utilities provider isn’t listed, you can’t make use of their platform.