Why Cashing a Check at Someone Else’s Bank May Leave You Feeling Robbed

Katherine Muniz

Updated on Thu Mar 26, 2015

If you’re annoyed by the fees banks are charging for even the simplest services nowadays, prepare to add more grievances to the list. It may or may not be common knowledge to you, but many banks charge check-cashing fees when you’re not a customer.

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What’s more, banks will only cash a check for a non-customer if the check is issued by that specific bank. 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:

BankFee policy in 2014Fee policy in 2013
Bank of America$6Free for personal checks; $5 for business checks
BMO Harris Bank$10 ($50 is the minimum amount you can cash)$5
BB&TFree under $50; Over $50 a fee of $8 (Regarding business checks, according to a customer rep, the $8 fee can be waived if the issuing company agrees to pay for it)Free under $50; Over $50 a fee of $8
Capital OneFree (Checks of $1,000 and above are more complicated to cash, but still free)Free (Checks of $1,000 and above are more complicated to cash, but still free)
Chase$6$6 for checks over $50; otherwise, free
BBVA Compass$7Free for checks under $50; $7.50 if the value of the check is $50-$100; $10 for checks over $200
CitibankFree for checks under $5,000Free for checks under $6,500
Fifth Third Bank1% of the check amount ($4 maximum)$5
HSBC BankFree for personal checks; $3 for business checks under $100 and $5 for business checks of $100 or moreFree for personal checks; $3 for business checks under $100 and $5 for business checks of $100 or more
M&T Bank$10$10
PNC Bank$10$10
Regions BankFree under $10, but above $10, 1% of the check amount ($2 minimum and $20 maximum)$1 for every $100 of the check amount
State Street BankFreeFree
SunTrustPersonal 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 when you go in to the branch to cash a check as a non-customer.

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.

Understanding how it works

1. You receive a Chase-issued check of $100 for your birthday.

2. You personally bank at Bank of America, but for whatever reason, can’t make it to your own bank’s branch, and you need the money as soon as possible, so instead you head to Chase to cash it.

3. You wait in line at Chase. When it’s your turn, you head up 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 should you do?

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. More likely, however, you don’t have a bank account that is capable of receiving or cashing checks.

Luckily, for people in this predicament, here are other ways to cash a check without a bank account:

- 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 the local check-cashing stores that are scattered throughout your neighborhood. 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.

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 going through a branch number instead of customer service (though sometimes that is hard 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 rebuffed.

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.

When speaking with a Portland branch from U.S. Bank and inquiring about the cost to cash a business check in addition to a personal check, a representative said that if ever a business check situation arises, to come down to the branch and see if they can work something out with you. Given the amount of leniency and authority branch employees are given, you may benefit from explaining your situation.


Post a Comment

  • SteveO45

    check cashing places dont accept personal checks though, no?

    • http://www.mybanktracker.com Katherine Muniz

      Hi there! Yes, they do – cash your personal checks away to your heart’s content!

  • Kenneth Williams

    I am honestly disgusted by this policy. Some charge for cashing personal checks on they’re own note. Banks make money by investing what is in customer accounts. This practice should be made illegal (charging a fee on their own note)

    • Raf Callas

      They gotta make their money somehow. Sadly, it’s through unnecessary fees.

      • CRC60

        Yes so the check writer must pay the fees. As far as I’m concerned, until and unless the entire debt is payed, that fee is a collectable against the company who wrote the check.

      • hony

        “They”? You mean the banker billionaires. Do you realize that they are exploiting us? They love people like you who say things like “they gotta make the money somehow” Dam you are pitifully naive

    • Underpaid bank worker

      I understand that some people disagree with this and are applaud by it. You need to understand that the people that work in the branches, tellers, CSR’s, managers are very underpaid. Yes, the banking industry makes billions but it is only for those people higher up. When people in the lower levels are constantly berated by those who do not want to pay those fees it is stressful and scary. They deal with the constant stress of possible being robbed, being faced with fake checks and money, dealing with people who verbally and sometimes physically assault them, listening to stories of people with little to no money or people with hundreds of thousands who get angry of paying $5 fees, and people who refuse to show their ID’s expecting everyone to know them based on their time as customers. Remember, please be respectful lower level banking deals with a lot of unnecessary stress.

      • scott

        That’s a great story, however, these fees aren’t going to the tellers… they are going to the pockets of the people who continually exploit their tellers. In summary, the banks can still go screw themselves.

      • Kenneth Williams

        I plan to start A company with a cap on both ends, (of the wages) if its still legal when I’ve finished college.


    The fees are ridiculous! PNC Bank wanted to charge me $30 to cash $150 worth of paychecks! I expect a small fee or percentage but not something so outrageous. I do not have an account at their bank or any other bank due to the astronomical fees which I currently can not afford. I recently lost my full time job and have only been working part time for the past several months. I struggle enough without having to pay to cash my meager paycheck. I tried explaining my situation to the representative but they just got snotty. I have truly had it with banks.

  • CannabisIsNotEvil

    Bank of America wont’ even cash my paychecks anymore. They’re business checks written on a BofA account with plenty of money to cover the funds. They refuse to cash the check unless I make an account – which I refuse to do. Now I have no choice but to deposit it in my Wells Fargo account. F- BofA anyway – they’re the worst bank ever

  • http://fuck-you.see-fourth-amendment.gov Thomas Paine

    Isn’t it a basic bank law, that the issuing bank has to honor a check from itself, when that check is presented to it?
    This used to be a basic law.
    There was nothing about taking out money from the check, there were no fees mentioned in this law.
    It is the duty of the bank to honor its own checks, and cash them at full value.
    Another gripe I have, is, BOA wanted a fingerprint when I cashed my paycheck with them today.
    I am not a criminal, I do not like giving anyone my fingerprint.
    BOA also insisted I give them my SSN.
    But BOA is not the SSA; in California at least, there are laws about not having to demand someone’s SSN.
    That number was never intended to be a national ID number, and a few years ago, that statement was still printed on all SSN cards. WHen FDR passed the act, the Republicans wisely insisted that it never be a national ID.
    National ID’s are for East Germany and banana republics; they are not for real democracies. 1984.
    Ah well, how liberty and banking have declined in the USA!

  • http://fuck-you.see-fourth-amendment.gov Thomas Paine

    I am now looking for a REAL credit union, not a bank with a trendy credit union name. A real credit union pays out dividends to its customers, from time to time, who are all part owners.
    A real union pays higher rates on savings accounts and checking accounts, unlike a bank which takes your interest and keeps it.
    A real union gives low cost loans to its members.
    A real credit union doesn’t do what Goldman Sachs did in 2008: rape the pension funds of workers by putting them into worthless mortgages and then betting that they will fail, and making tons of money doing so. And also driving Iceland bankrupt! A whole country! See Matt Taibbi for all the crimes of Goldman Sachs. They should be in Federal Pound Me in the Ass Prison, so when they have to use a inflatable donut to sit down, they will remember to stop breaking the law!

    I used to use Wells Fargo, but they kept charging me outrageous fees on top of fees, and they also were bailed out with my tax money in 2008, after which they got bigger and paid more bonuses to their rich managers on Wall Street.
    Banks don’t give plain financial service anymore, they just rig the system to make the most in fees. We need to break their monopoly. Like Teddy Roosevelt used to do in 1910 with all the monopolies of the late 1800s ! Maybe bitcoin will help ?

  • CRC60

    I would simply go the the business that wrote me the check and demand the shortage. When they say no, off to small claims I go. I have to wonder if this hasn’t been adjudicated before.

  • hony

    Most banks refuse to cash a check if you are not a customer. With all the scanning technology in place at banks anyone anywhere should be able to cash a check whether they are a customer or not. Since you aren’t a customer the bank wants to seize the opportunity to exploit you just like they do their retail banking customers who do have accounts.

  • Lauren Poper

    This list says Bank of America doesn’t impose a fee for non-customers to cash a check. The branch here in Putnam, CT has been charging $6 for several years.

  • Jupiter Jones

    Tioga State Bank in Candor, NY charges $10 to cash a bank. Thing is it may be “legal” but they have lost my families, friends and business accounts due to it. I’ve been using that bank for 20+ yrs.
    I’m in there every year depositing money into my parents account for them.
    I know most of the employees there by first name. Today there was a new woman and she not only was rude to me, she was also rude to the the party that wrote the check. Going as far as answering thier concerns with saying “we are not a check cashing business.
    Whether legal or not you would think they would treat a local family who loyally used their bank better. They may have saved themself $10 but the lost accounts are going to cost them more than they know. I’ve got a big mouth and since I’ve got nothing better to do, I plan on putting signs about their “policy and my treatment” in my windows and parking right outside their door. Which is on Main Street in a town with only 2 roads in/out.
    Enjoy the view TSB, I plan on letting as many people
    i can (or see) just how badly they can expect to be treated.

    • jjomes

      Where it says
      “I’m in there every year depositing money” it should say every month” I’m so p’d off I can’t even type.

  • Tiffany

    Bank of America does charge. I went there today and they had a $6 fee to cash my paycheck.

  • Bogi Farkas

    Could anybody help me? Can a foreign citizen cash a check, if he/she is just a visitor in US (under the terms of visa waiver program)? Do banks accept foreign identification documents?

  • Never banking with Wells Fargo

    Can’t believe this just happened. What made it worse was the teller asked me if I was interested in opening an account at Wells Fargo and I responded that my husband and I moved our account to a local credit union due to the fees. When she said it would cost me $7.50 to cash a reimbursement check by one of their business accounts, I started to laugh at why I changed to a credit union. She went on further to blame the fee on the business who wrote the reimbursement check explaining that they had decided not to pay the fee rather than it is due to Wells Fargo standard fee policy!

  • fourgotten

    Sadly, many of the articles written on this topic espouse the idea, as does this one, that we should just bend over and take it or work around it.

    We need to stop this.

    We need to force banks to pay up on the drafts written against accounts that they hold.

    They are making money from the bank fees that they charge their customers.

    They are making money from the investments that they make using the money that they hold in trust for their customers.

    The only way that we can force this to stop is to stop accepting checks from banks which charge these fees.

    Those of us who own businesses need to make it publicly clear that we will no longer accept checks from these financial institutions, and the reason why.

    Those of us who work for businesses or do business with people who bank with these institutions must demand other forms of payment. Checks from these institutions are no longer payment in full – they are partial payment if they cannot be redeemed for full face value.

    If they are only partial payment, then they are worthless.

    We have the power to fix this, if we take action to do so.

    Sadly, there so much advice about how to work around it or suggestion that that’s just the way that it is, that people won’t fight it.

    My business, Eating Oregon LLC no longer accepts checks from any bank that I cannot walk into and receive full payment of the face value of that check. The list begins with Bank of America.

  • R Brown

    This information is outdated.
    Bank of American has joined the band of thieves that now charge people to cash a check drawn on their own customer’s account.

  • Justpayed$7tocash$60

    So what if you don’t have a bank account and you make minimum wage. If your only option is to be payed by check, you are either forced to sign up at a bank, or give the bank part of your money just to get your money, and then you are actually making less than minimum wage. This SHOULD make it automatically illegal. The bank could theoretically take 99.9% the value of your paycheck in fees if they wanted to, leaving you with nothing.