By Zachary Ehrlich  Mon Jan 9, 2012

How Much Will Cashing That Check Cost You at Big Banks?

If you are like most banked consumers, you have probably never tried to cash a check at a financial institution where you are not a customer. On the rare occasion that you have had to do so, you probably got hit with a fee, which varies from bank to bank.

STORY UPDATED to highlight the cost of cashing a check at someone else’s bank.

Cashing a check at a foreign financial institution is not top of mind for most people because the scenario does not often present itself. You can only cash checks that draw on accounts from the institution that issued it and most would prefer to handle their accounts at their own personal institution.

With TD Bank’s (NYSE: TD) recent announcement that they will impose a $5 fee on all checks cashed by non-customers starting February 1, we decided to investigate what other banks charge for this service. The results could not be more erratic.

Why the fee?

The funny thing is that most bank tellers could not explain why their bank charges the fee, citing bank policy and offering to open an account over the phone. Consumers would consider this typical of bank fees – no valid explanation other than, “we do not like you if you do not bank here.”

This is further emphasized by the fact that the banks could not disagree more on how much, or in what capacity, this service actually costs them. While some banks differentiate between business and personal checks, others impose arbitrary limits on how much the check can be valued for them to cash it. A few rare gems still do not charge any fee at all.

Ideally we would all like to avoid these charges, but if you do find yourself in a situation where you need cash and must utilize a bank that is not your own, make sure you have two forms of identification to be safe – although some only require one.

The table below shows how some of the largest U.S. banks manage this fee:

Cash Checking Fee for Non-Customers

Bank Fee Policy
Bank of America $6
BB&T $8
Capital One $0 for all checks, but will not cash personal checks
Chase $6
Citibank $0 for checks under $5000, will not cash checks over $5000
Citizens Bank $7
Comerica $6
Everbank $0
Fifth Third $4 for checks under $400, 1% of the check's value if it's over $400
First Citizens $6 for business checks, $0 for personal checks
Huntington $6 for checks over $200, free for checks under $200
KeyBank $7.50
M&T $10
PNC Bank $10 for checks under $1000, will not cash checks over $1000
Sovereign $5
SunTrust $0
TD Bank $5
U.S. Bank $5 for checks over $50, free for checks under $50
Wells Fargo $7.50 for business checks, $0 for personal checks

While the fees you incur rival the terribly maligned, independent check cashing services, unfortunately for the estimated 30 million Americans who have no ties to the banking industry, these are the only options.

You should also take note that these ‘evil’ services are actually much more affordable than the big banks when cashing government, payroll and similar checks. One service, Pay-O-Matic cashes checks for 1.86 percent at the time this article was written. It’s the personal checks that demand your attention.

If we missed a bank that you would like to see included, please contact us or let us know in the comments section below.

In the Article

 

Add Your 2 Cents

  • Pmcl02125

    What about Citizens Bank ??

    • Joe

      Go to your Credit Union, 100,000 + already have.

    • http://www.mybanktracker.com Simon Zhen

      It costs $7 to cash a Citizens Bank check if you are not a Citizens Bank customer. A valid, non-expired government-issued ID is required.

  • Joehitchj

    My Credit Union, no charge to cash a check, no cost checks if 65 or over etc etc etc
    Vote with your feet take your money to a credit union—–member since 1968 

  • Rick

    Every business charges for their services. Why should banks be different? Don’t want to pay a check cashing fee? Deposit it in your bank! Don’t have a bank account? Open one or pay for the service. It cost a lot of money to keep a bank running, and banks are business like any other. Should restaurants allow people to bring their own food and then let them use their tables for free? If banks stopped cashing checks all together it would be much harder for drug dealers and others to laundry money and defraud the IRS. Unfortunately, some banks have done some unethical things in the past, but there is nothing unethical about charging someone for a service provided. Credit Unions are Banks too and soon or later they will have to charge the same fees if they plan to stay in business too.

    • Jdb

      It is their own check Rick!  It is not like it is from some 3rd party bank.  They make money off of the account to which the check is tied and then try to extort money out of me when I cash it.  It is not like they aren’t making any money off of the account.  If you can’t understand the problem with that then you must be like all the other sheeple out there who just do what they are told.

    • Jus Sayin

      I agree with jdb!! If its their own check and all they are going to do is verify that their customer has the funds in their account before handing the cash to you then why make me, the innocent checkcasher pay a fee. Don’t give me the cash before verifying that the money is in their. I have been burned by depositing other people’s check into my personal checking account so my rule has been to take it to their bank and cash it.

    • mikey mike

      Typical corporate-speak, Rick. Big banks are the problem here; credit unions and community banks don’t see the need to charge this fee and they are the solution. Why is that, Rick? You say they will “eventually” have to charge the same fees. Well, no they won’t. The wretched big banks have been so scarred by incompetence and dirty dealing (think the bailouts and the Libor scandal) that they need every red cent they can lay their hands on. Folks should move their accounts to intelligent local institutions, not big stupid ones.

    • Misty_maldonado

      I
      personally was appalled to find out that my back charges people I write checks
      to, to cash my check.  If I want to
      write my 10 year old niece a check for $25 and mail it as a birthday gift, why
      should she have to give my bank $10 to cash it. 
      She shouldn’t have to go open an account to access money I gave her from
      my account when I am already paying my fees and allowing the bank to make money
      by using my savings to invest in their money making schemes.  It is embarrassing. 

    • hung

      Rick, I don’t know you but I should hope you are an intelligent enough person to understand how idiotic of a concept it is to charged to cash a check at a bank of which it was issued. its like buying food to go at the restaurant then being charged to sit at the table when you change your mind and decide to eat in. Anyone in their right mind would think that is stupid. And so is having to pay to cash a Chase bank check at Chase bank. bottom line is banks are trying any and all ways they can to rip hard working people off. There hasn’t been and still isn’t enough regulations to protect consumes against these greedy bastards.

    • Kirk

      Thanks Lead Teller Rick!

  • ageofknowledge

    I went to wells fargo to cash a check made out to me from a payee that banked at wells fargo and after confirming the payee had adequate fees they told me they were going to charge me $30.00 to cash their own check for me. I laughed and told them they should be ashamed of themselves and drove the extra distance to my bank and deposited it for free.

  • wrm

    the bank is hired by the party issuing the check. Any fees is between them. Just because it is legal doesn’t make it right.

  • http://www.facebook.com/nimbus.alexia Nimbus Alexia

    I was told by a Wells Fargo Teller that the reason I have to pay 7.50 to cash my paycheck (I’m a non-account holder) is because *that’s your employer’s fault because they chose the type of account they did. I spoke with the company I work for (and I had to work almost a whole hour for free just to cash it which is maddening!) and they said it’s Wells Fargo, Not Them! Who is lyng? here is the law that says my employer is not allowed to charge a fee: Methods of Payment
    Payment of wages must be made in cash or by a negotiable instrument payable on demand without fee or discount at a bank or other place of business in the county where it was issued. An employee may authorize the employer to deposit wages into the employee’s account in a bank, credit union, or savings and loan within the state. ORS 652.110.

  • Vasama

    One question:  When I receive a check for $1,000.00 from a Company (because I did some service to that Company), I pay taxes for $1,000.00 OK?, But I receive from the Bank $995.00 OK?, Then, I should be pay taxes only for %995.00 ? But, for example, If you use a 10/99 form as TAX payment to IRS, the amount the company that made the checks, must be exactly equal to what you reported to IRS OK? Then, either the IRS collect “virtual” money Tax (from my $1,000.00, plus taxes for $5.00 from the Bank)?, or the Bank doesn’t pay taxes for the collected fees? [$5.00 * (Customers cashing checks)].Another question: If I go to cash a $500.00 in 100 checks of $ 5.00, they paid me a total of $0.00?

    • http://www.mybanktracker.com Alex Matjanec

      Hey Vasama, 

      The IRS taxes you on the revenue you make, which in this case is a $1,000 and not your take home pay ($995).  That said, some banks fees such as this are actually tax deducible for businesses (no personal though). 

      I would recommend you check with your accountant and confirm.

      Thanks for posting your comment. 

      • Vasama

        Thanks Alex.

    • Tyson Morecraft

      we shouldnt have to pay and pay nad pay to get our payment. everywhere i turn someone or something is chipping away at what i worked for. can get ahead at that rate. nice comment vasama

  • fyi

    Bank of america fee is not $6 its $5

  • Jennifer German

    Since my paycheck is drawn on BofA, would it be possibly to take my check to them, open an account and then withdraw every last cent I deposit (effectively opening and closing an account in one transaction)? I have a checking account with a great bank (USAA), unfortunately there are no physical locations where I live, and as I just relocated and have some bills, I don’t have time to wait for a check to clear. There is no power on earth that could compel me to have an account with BofA again. Oh, and for everyone that doesn’t have a checking account, WalMart will cash any paycheck for $3 (but there’s none around me, so that’s not an option).

    • http://www.mybanktracker.com Simon Zhen

      Jennifer, when you deposit a check into a BofA checking account, only a portion of the deposited amount is available immediately — the rest will be available when the check clears. Opening and closing an account the same day will not work.

      Note: opening and closing an account within a short period of time may be recorded in your ChexSystems report, which tracks mishandled accounts.
      http://www.mybanktracker.com/news/2010/08/30/account-denied-chexsystems-report/

      If you want to avoid a check-cashing fee, USAA has a few ways you can deposit a check for free. Subject to eligibility requirements, you may be able to deposit checks remotely through a scanner or a smartphone.

      Also, certain UPS Stores in the country will accept checks deposited into USAA accounts.

      https://www.usaa.com/inet/pages/usaa_easy_deposits_main

      Hope you are able to use one of these options.

  • Paladin167

    Well, I just got blown away by taking a check made payable to me to the issuing bank, only to be told there would be a fee to cash the check. So here I am, researching the issue on the Internet. One commentator says the Office of the Comptroller of Currency – the regulatory agency for banks – talks about this issue. But I don’t care about them. I want to know why a bank isn’t deemed to have wrongfully dishonored an item when they refuse to cash (pay) the item as it was written by their depositor? If a fee is imposed, the item has, in effect, been discounted and payment of any lesser amount is not “paying the item as written”. I did not agree to allow any discount against the money I was rightfully owed. If a financial institution wants to rip people off with its fees, let them charge their depositors for checks which are cashed by “non-customers”.

  • http://twitter.com/Mandi_007 Mandy O

    PNC is a RIP OFF. I work as a waitress and sometimes my employer has to pay me with a check for my credit card tips if we do not have enough cash on hand at the end of the night. I had 3 checks from this weekend, not big sums, figure $100, $77, and $90 and they charged me THIRTY dollars because I was cashing them out for cash. I needed to make a cash deposit into my account for bills and could not wait for it to clear my bank. They could not charge me a flat $10 for all three? RIDICULOUS.

  • Stormy48

    I personally feel that if a Corporation as large as the one I work for banks with Bank of America then they should honor the services they provide their customers which is writing a check. Then me, not a customer should have the right to walk into B of A and cash said check with enthusiasm and dignity. Not expected, like Wells Fargo, to stand in a separate line, I didn’t lol, and then be charged 5.00 for services that I’m sure my employer has already paid in their banking transactions with their own account. So do I say, “Hey sorry can’t accept your checks because your bank won’t honor them unless they can scalp me for 5.00?”
    I don’t care if I should use my own Credit Union or what the reason is. I don’t judge people who don’t have their own accounts. Some don’t trust banks, some have bad credit or maybe after they pay their bills they have no money left to pay all the fees it costs to have an account and now they are out another five dollars. For me it’s convenience, B of A is right down the street and it’s after work, my financial institution will be closed when I can get there. It shouldn’t matter because I have no idea what makes me any different than the fellow co-worker next to me who has an account at B of A, stands in the same line I do, gives the same thumb print I do, signs their check also like I do (i know…different signatures) but when the teller gives him his money it’s not short 5.00 just mine is. In fact it would cost me more to have an account with them…this balance, that balance, atm transactions and they are sharks anyway. One of the worst possible Banks. What did I not do or my employer not do that makes me different? I wasn’t trying to cash a personal check from my Credit Union or a third party check. I just want them to honor the services my employer pays for. I think that includes cashing checks from their Bank.
    When I ran my own business I would not accept Wells Fargo Checks for the simple reason that they treated my like I was second class for accepting one of their checks from one of their customers but I wasn’t good enough to stand in the same line as customers who were helped first as I stood there. That didn’t happen again, I got into the correct line the last few times I went.
    To me, It makes no sense and it should be illegal because I feel discriminated for my choice of opting out of their banking tyranny and simply want them to honor the check I was issued by their customer and not get scalped for 5.00. It’s not the money, it’s the point.
    Maybe I am wrong, but if my Employer or myself has an account there, what is the fee for?

  • justforsurvey

    What about Signature? My boss won’t allow me to cash at this bank. He says they don’t cash non-customer check. Not even a fee.

  • justforsurvey

    I’m sorry that was Signature bank.

  • http://www.facebook.com/georgia.w.dougherty Georgia Waltz Dougherty

    PNC above only charges business accounts not personal accounts…you should indicate that…

    • CindyB

      Not true. I was just at PNC a week ago. I Went to cash a (PNC) check written to me from my father & they tried to charge me $10. I walked away. Screw them.

  • jasmine

    I use to work for the bank (Wachovia) if you get a payroll check & cash the check on the bank it’s drawn on & you are charged a fee then that’s your employers fault. Companies have the right to cover the check cashing fees on behalf of their employees & most companies decide not to pay that fee. So the bank is not lying when they tell you to take that up with your employer.

  • jasmine

    These check cashing fees are ridiculous by the way! I’m so happy I have an account with a good bank. I bank with Woodforest. They were sued yrs ago & had to change their banking practices. They give second chance checking accounts with 300$ overdrafts protection as well as 500$ overdraft protection on regular checking accounts & you get your payroll check deposit a day sooner than normal. My hubbys payday is Fridays but he gets his check on Thursday morning. Also if you want to use your overdraft protection you have 3 options. 1. Thru the ATM 2. Thru the teller @ the counter or 3. By using your debit card as a pos purchase. I love my bank they’re the best.

  • ANI

    it costs $5 dollars to cash a check assigned by a BUSINESS at bank of america without an account due to a non relationship service fee. all personal checks are cashed WITHOUT a fee. Some buisness checks ex- corporations payrolls zba accounts may or may not waive the fee for their client it is found out during the check cashing process.

  • Mike

    I find all of this bickering absolutely HILARIOUS!!! I work as a bank teller, it’s simply put as a fee for a service provided. Look, if you’re a “non-account” holder coming into to cash a check, we aren’t forcing you to pay the fee. You are more than welcome to take you check and either cash it somewhere else or take it to your own bank. And furthermore, for the people who say “Well I will just take it to my bank.”, why didn’t you just do that in the first place? Is it because you’ve over-drafted your account so much that your bank won’t cash the check or give you the funds in a normal timeframe? Perhaps you should just stop bitching about a check cashing fee at a financial institution that YOU choose not to be a part of and put on your adult pants and start managing your money a little better!

    • James

      It’s not bickering Mike, it’s common sense. Why should anyone have to pay a fee to retrieve the funds owed to them? That’s what it comes down to – if I owe someone money, I should be able to write them a check, and they can go to my bank (if they choose) and claim the money owed.
      I refuse to do business with any financial institution that will charge a fee to honor a transaction from a depositor. it really should be illegal, as it goes against the reason banks were started in the first place.
      People found it a convenience to store their money in one place (usually paying for that convenience) and they can pay their debts by writing a check, knowing that the person receiving the check will be paid in full from the place the check was written on.
      It worked this way for more than a hundred years – these fees have only come about in the last 10 years, and are just another way for greedy banks to extort money from people.
      Why should I have to go through the hassle of wondering if someone’s check will clear? Shouldn’t I be able to claim the money owed at the place the check was written on? Charging for that service is completely immoral and is only adding to the bad reputation banks have been building for years.

      • Pinstripe Suit

        The bank doesn’t have any sort of arrangement with you; they have an arrangement with your employer. Checks are still good and are perfectly valid for deposit at full face value in your bank account with the bank with whom you’ve entered into a business arrangement. You cite the past as a reason, but what was the percentage of identity theft cases per 100,000 people in the world? Every time a bank cashes a check for a non-customer, there is a chance that that check is fraudulent or altered, and if that is the case then it is the banks responsibility to foot the bill for attempting to retrieve those funds.

    • Christopher Hall

      It should be good, basic customer service. I agree with the article; when I used to cash my checks at Chase, they had to get a manager to authorize it, then charged me a fee, like I was a delinquent. It also took a lot of time out of my 30 minute lunch (and they didn’t care). I finally got an account, ironically enough, at Washington Mutual, which was later bought out by Chase. If it wasn’t for that, I’d never do any business with them. They made me feel incredibly unwelcome, like I was bothering them, and like I wasn’t to be trusted.

      It was better, though, than Broadway Bank here in Chicago: they wouldn’t cash a check written on their account, from that location, for me AT ALL.

  • Mike Young

    It costs $7 from suntrust if you are not a bank customer for any check not payroll.

  • Miami Builder

    $20.00 at Gibraltar bank here in Miami. These guys are crooks!!!!!!

  • sh1247

    I work at a banking institution and when a non-client comes to cash an On-us check, the bank does charge a fee. I do understand the frustration for the person cashing the check but I also see it from the banks point of view. In most financial institutions, a check cashing fee is inflicted to help pay for the cost of the money that is ordered. The cash is initially ordered to service the clients of the institute. By cashing a non-client check, the bank depletes the money intended for clients. Banks and even credit unions do not keep surplus money in branch to keep the risk of losing money at a low. The other reason a bank may inflict a fee, other than providing a service, is for liability. Fraudulent or bad checks are very common. Yes, banks have the account to make sure the funds are available and copies of signatures to verify. That does not go to say the person who wrote the check is who they say they are or even have authority to sign the check. I do agree that some of the fees are a little high and should be lowered but there is a rhyme and reason as to why there is a fee at all.

    • Denise

      This would make sense to me if it were a PERSONAL check, but the check that Chase wanted to charge me $6 to cash was from a well known business in our area. Bad practice, Chase.

  • Kookie

    Wells Fargo wants a thumbprint from you too.

  • Tyson Morecraft

    I used to cash checks at many different banks and would get fees at a lot of them. Bank of America was doing this to me like 5 times a month. Then all of a sudden they stopped. i wonder if it is double charging for the one service to their customer and might be ILLEGAL to CHARGE FOR CASHING A CHECK THAT CAME FROM THEIR CUSTOMER AND THEIR BANK> if someone could tell me where to find the law literature on this subject i would appreciate it.

    • denise

      *** LIKE *** to you Tyson. Such a stupid practice.

  • CapsPsycho

    To update your post, SunTrust is no longer “$0.” It is $7, at least that’s what it was at the Washington, DC branch I went to.

    Since this practice is arbitrary, and is designed after the morally-questionable model of check cashing joints endemic to low-income areas, I wonder if anyone knows of any organized opposition to predatory fees for non-customers.

  • Keith

    I have never paid to have a check cashed. On the rare occasion that the teller doesn’t wave the fee “this time only”, I simply go tell my customer that their bank refuses to honor the check for the value that was written. The customer then goes to the bank infuriated at the teller and demands cash that they then hand to me directly. Then I leave grinning smugly .

  • PResearch

    As part of a MBA project I worked on for many months, I looked into several mid-market areas and took a sample size of banks from each. I looked at many aspects, one being fees. A fair percentage of transactions completed (on average from the sample I used) 32% were non-client transactions. In addition, the amount of weekly cash supply had to be increased close to 38% to be able to handle these non-client transactions. Just as you are charged a fee for this ‘service’, the bank has fees or expenses to be able to provide it such as payroll, facility overhead, and cash delivery/storage. When a bank orders cash from a armored delivery service, they pay a percentage of the total order, this fee increases 38% to accommodate non-clients. With more transactions on the teller line, employee expenses increase to accommodate. Now common sense might point to the revenue the bank generates from its depositors and other financial services, but the fact is, most banking products that had a fee associated in the past, are now free. For example On-Line Banking, Debit Cards, monthly account fees etc. Extremely simply put, as it became the norm for these products to be free, bank service charge revenues reduced. Furthermore, as regulatory oversight has increased over the past years, so have regulatory costs. A natural course of action for any business when expenses increase and revenues decrease is to look at cost cutting. This would normally be done by down sizing the #1 expense, payroll. If payroll can not be reduced in order to keep up with service demand (from non-client transactions) then fees are therefore increased to offset the expense. A 1 page summary from a 150 page answer. I hope this helps some to realize that its not personal, just simple math.

    • bilg

      What seems strange to me is the idea of ‘non-client’ has been created for this extortion. The person owning the account is the client on BOTH SIDES of this transaction. If the bank is facing additional costs, their client is the place to obtain the extra revenue! I’m saying that recognizing my bank fees may go up very slightly, but in the end the process is much logical and above-board!

  • Aaron

    It seems ridiculous for Chase to charge a $6.00 fee for a non-customer to cash a check coming from a Chase account.

    • Denise

      I just tried to cash a work check drawn on Chase Bank, and they were going to charge me $6! WHAAAAAT?! When did this start? When airlines stopped their customer service of free luggage and meals with your ticket? Boo on you, Chase Bank. I’m face booking my friends about your poor customer practice. Seems like you should want to try to cater to non-account holders.

  • judy knoppel

    i have a hard time BELIEVING THAT A CHECK THAT IS DRAWN ON A CITIBANK ACCOUNT – WAS NOT- I REPEAT NOT ALLOWED TO BE CASHED AT “ANY LOCATIONS” IN THE USA. MY CHECK WAS REFUSED 3 TIMES BY TELLERS,MANAGEMENT AND SUPPORT GROUPS AT CITIBANK IN HYATTSVILLE,MD *. $296.03 IS THE AMOUNT, YES I HAVE MORE THAN ENOUGH PROPER IDENTIFICATION……IT’S NOT THEIR POLICY. WHAT A BOAT LOAD OF NONSENCE. IS IT BECAUSE I DONT HAVE AN ACCOUNT THERE-NO,THEY NEVER OFFERED ME THE OPPORTUNITY OR SUGGEST TO ME.TO OPEN AN ACCOUNT. NEVER, BY ANYONE. I SPENT 3 DAYS/NIGHTS EMAIILING PEOPLE AT CITIBANK AND FINALLY TUESDAY FEB.18-2014 I RECEIVED A CALL THAT IN FACT CITIBANK WOULD NOT CASH THE CHECK ON THIER OWN BANK. WHAT THE HECK IS THAT ????? I ASSURE EVERYONE THAT WHILE ALL TELLERS,ETC WERE VERY POLITE AS SOON AS THEY WERE TOLD I COULDNT CASH THEIR CHECK. I WAS LEFT STANDING THERE………NEXT CUSTOMER PLEASE. I AM INFURIATED. THIS LOCATION IS IN FACT 2 BLOCKS FROM MY HOUSE AND IS THE REASON I WENT THERE-DUE TO THE SNOWY WEATHER,ETC. MY OWN BANK IS IN ANOTHER LOCATION AND I WILL MAKE ARRAINGMENTS TO GET ON THE BUS AND GO THERE……..BUT MY POINT IS……HOW CAN CITIBANK SAY NO TO A CHECK THAT THEY THEMSELVES ISSUED. A BUNCH OF POLITICAL BANK BS. BE CAREFUL PEOPLE-THEY “ARE NOT- I REPEAT ARE NOT WHATTHEY APPEAR TO BE. WAYYYY TO MANY HIDDEN ISSUED.** I ALSO NOTICED THAT THE POPULATION IN THAT LOCATION WERE NON AMERICAN ADULTS AND COLLEGE AGE PROPLES. HMMMMM ??

  • g

    BMO $10 fee to cash their own check.

  • Mike

    What about Fort Sill Nat’l Bank?