If you’re annoyed by the fees banks are charging for even the simplest services nowadays, prepare to add more grievances to the list. Many banks charge check-cashing fees if you’re not a customer. What’s more, banks will only cash a check for a non-customer if the check is issued by that specific bank. In other words, if you’re a Bank of America customer but have a Chase check, you will be charged a fee if you go to Chase to cash it.
Understanding how it works
1. Using the example above, let’s say you receive a Chase-issued check for $100.
2. You personally bank at Bank of America, but for whatever reason, can’t make it to your bank’s branch. You also need the money as soon as possible, so you decide to go to Chase to cash it.
3. When you arrive at Chase, you go to the counter and ask the teller to cash your check.
4. The teller tells you that since you are not a Chase member, you will unfortunately have to pay a $6 fee for the cashing of your check.
What are the fees at the top 20 banks?
We contacted the top 20 banks in the U.S. in order to determine their non-customer check-cashing fee policies, which we have compiled in a table below.
While some banks, like Capital One, Citibank and SunTrust maintain a policy of providing this service for free, other banks are profiting by charging anywhere from a percentage of the check to a $10 fee.
Here are the fee policies of the top 20 U.S. banks (flat rates apply to business and personal checks unless otherwise specified) and how they changed in recent years:
Bank Fee policy in 2015 & 2014 Fee policy in 2013
Bank of America $6 Free for personal checks; $5 for business checks
BMO Harris Bank $10 ($50 is the minimum amount you can cash) $5
BB&T Free under $50; Over $50 a fee of $8 Free under $50; Over $50 a fee of $8
Capital One Free Free
Chase $6 $6 for checks over $50; otherwise, free
BBVA Compass $7 Free for checks under $50; $7.50 if the value of the check is $50-$100; $10 for checks over $200
Citibank Free for checks under $5,000 Free for checks under $6,500
Fifth Third Bank 1% of the check amount ($4 maximum) $5
HSBC Bank Free for personal checks; $3 for business checks under $100 and $5 for business checks of $100 or more Free for personal checks; $3 for business checks under $100 and $5 for business checks of $100 or more
KeyBank $7.50 Free
M&T Bank $10 $10
PNC Bank $10 $10
Regions Bank Free under $10, but above $10, 1% of the check amount ($2 minimum and $20 maximum) $1 for every $100 of the check amount
Citizens-Bank $7 $7
SunTrust Personal check is free; business check is $7 $7
TD Bank $7 $7
Union Bank $5 fee for personal checks over $100; $5 for business checks over $25 $5 fee for personal checks over $100; $5 for business checks over $25
U.S. Bank $5 $5
Wells Fargo $7.50 $7.50
Every bank requires that you have two forms of government-issued ID (i.e. driver’s license and U.S. passport) when you go in to the branch to cash a check as a non-customer.
If you are trying to cash a check that is written to yourself and another person, remember that these rules that apply and it could cause more of a hassle to get your money.
Analyzing the data
Interestingly enough, compared to fees in 2013, some banks have increased their fees, while others have made their policy more affordable for the everyday consumers to cash, such as in the case of personal checks.
Bank of America, BBVA Compass and KeyBank are some of the big banks that have raised fees. Meanwhile, Fifth Third Bank and SunTrust have implemented lower fees for their check-cashing services.
What can you do if you don’t have a bank account?
You may be wondering why anyone would ever go to a different bank to cash a check, when their own bank provides the service for free.
As we illustrated in the above scenario, if you can’t get to your bank, going to the bank of the issued check is your second resort. Or perhaps you don’t have a bank account because of a bad banking history, which means you’re on ChexSystems.
Luckily, for people in this predicament, here are other ways to cash a check without a bank account. Keep in mind it’s much more costly to cash checks without a bank account.
Tip: If you’re tired of paying these types of fees because you’re bankless, consider an online bank account. Here are the best online bank accounts to choose from. Also, here’s our list of the best second chance checking accounts.
- Convenience stores and supermarkets. The nation’s largest retailer, Walmart, offers check-cashing services that cost $3 to cash checks of $1,000 or less or $6 for checks of over $1,000 to $5,000 (the maximum). Also, some 7-Eleven locations have kiosks that will cash checks for a flat 0.99 percent fee. These are just two popular examples as cash-checking alternatives — you’re local supermarket or convenience store may provide similar services.
- Check-cashing stores. You may have noticed some local check-cashing stores. They’ll cash your checks as you’d expect, but it may be more expensive that the other options — usually as a percentage fee or a percentage fee plus a flat fee.
- Prepaid accounts. Today, there are many prepaid accounts that are capable of accepting mobile check deposits. Prepaid accounts are easier to obtain than checking accounts, so you can get one to cash checks on a regular basis.
Different types of payable instruments take different times to clear when you deposit them. We performed an actual test to compare the deposit speeds of personal checks, cashier’s checks and money orders.
How to avoid frustrations if you’re looking into the fee policies of banks
If you decide to do your own investigating because you have a check issued by a bank that isn’t listed, we recommend calling the actual branch instead of the customer service number (though sometimes that’s difficult when bank branch numbers aren’t listed online).
Branch members are much more familiar with the policies of daily transactions that occur at their branch locations, and as such, are better equipped to inform you about routine protocol. Customer service representatives are likely to ask you to hold while they look up the answer in their database, which isn’t likely to be wrong, but may mean a longer wait time for you (though not drastically). Also, call well ahead of the branch’s closing time, or you may be turned away.
Though many banks charge check cashing fees, depending on which bank you go to, you might be able to talk to someone and get the fee lowered or waived.