Please note: High-cost short-term credit is unsuitable for sustained borrowing over long periods and would be expensive as a means of longer-term borrowing.
What is cheque cashing?
Cheque cashing is a quicker, alternative method on cashing in a cheque that doesn’t require you to go through your bank, and which can be done at any time. It can take up to 3 business days for a bank to clear your cheque, so you may be looking for a faster option. A number of banks allow you to cash in a cheque via an app and the deposit will come through immediately. If you can’t afford to wait, you can use a cheque cashing service and get your money within minutes.
In return for giving you access to your money immediately, the lender will charge you a percentage fee, which can often be quite high.
How does cheque-cashing work?
When you go to cash a cheque at a bank, it needs to be cleared to ensure that it is valid. As the bank often needs to confirm this with another financial institution, it will generally take 3 business days for your check to be cleared and paid out.
If you have a cheque that you need to clear as soon as possible, you can take it to a cheque cashing provider to bypass the normal waiting period and receive the amount in cash.
Lenders that provide cheque cashing services are essentially forwarding the money with no guarantee that the cheque will be honoured, which might not happen if there are insufficient funds in the payer’s account. In return for taking this risk, cheque cashing providers will charge you a fee, which is usually a percentage of the cheque amount.
Some banks may allow you to request a special clearance to have your cheque cashed on the same day, but this will generally also attract a fee.
If you need to cash a cheque, it may be worth comparing a couple of different providers to see which can offer the best value. Because of the different fees and rates, you may find that, for example, cashing a cheque at Cash Converters may be cheaper than Cash Generator for certain sizes of cheque, but not for others.
Options for cashing a cheque
- Take the cheque directly to the bank/branch and request the money to be deposited in an account OR deposit the cheque at the bank’s ATM. Both of these options mean there will be a wait for the cheque to clear which can range from 3 to 5 days. If the funds are required urgently there are options to request a special clearance but this may incur a fee and will depend on the bank.
- Alternatively, you can take the cheque to be cashed at an instant cheque cashing retailer, which may provide instant access to the funds but will also incur a fee.
Who offers cheque cashing?
You can cash cheques at many high-street branches of money-lending chains and independent brokers. This includes:
- Cash Generator
- H&T Pawnbrokers
- Money Station
- The Cash Shop
You can also cash any cheques you have at your own bank, but will need to wait up to 3 days for the cheque to clear.
Types of cheques that can be cashed
Different service providers will have different criteria, but may generally honour the following types of cheques:
- Business cheques
- Company cheques
- Bank cheques
- Account payee cheques
- Government cheques
- Benefit cheques
- Gaming and lottery cheques
- Insurance cheques
- Options for cashing a cheque
How much does it cost to cash a cheque?
If you use a cheque cashing service, you will likely be charged a percentage fee, as well as a processing fee. Fees can vary significantly depending on the provider. There will generally be a percentage fee of between 4% and 9%, and a flat fee of between £1 and £6 per cheque.
This means that the cheapest place to cash a cheque may vary based on the size of the cheque. If you have a larger cheque that needs to be cashed, it’s probably worth finding a cheque-cashing provider that charges a flat fee as opposed to a percentage fee.
Pros and cons of cheque cashing
- Near-instant access to money. The cheque amount will be available immediately, instead of waiting 3 days for it to clear at the bank.
- No bank account required. Cheques can be paid out in cash, which means a bank account isn’t required to receive the money.
- Convenience. Users don’t have to travel to a bank branch to cash the cheque.
- High fees. This may be a percentage of the cheque amount, a fixed amount or both. The fee will vary between different providers and can often be quite high.
- Better alternatives. If you desperately need money, there are more cost-effective ways to do so, including borrowing from friends or family, or even taking out a short term loan.
- Restrictions. Some providers may refuse certain types of cheques or have limits on the amount that can be cashed out.
How to compare cheque cashing services
Cheque cashing providers can be a convenient option for you to consider if you need a quick turnaround time for your cheque, but it’s important that you choose the right provider. Here are a few things to keep in mind when comparing your options:
- Turnaround time. As this is likely to be the main reason that you’re opting for cheque cashing services, you should check how quickly you can expect to receive the money. Some lenders may be able to provide you with the money within a few minutes, while others may take longer.
- Fees and charges. All cheque cashing providers are likely to charge fees, but the question is how much? Some may charge you a flat fee, while others may charge you a percentage of the cheque amount, and some may charge both.
- Restrictions. Some providers may have restrictions as to the kinds of cheques they’ll cash, whether they be business, personal, government or another type. They’re also likely to have limits on the cheque amount they’re able to cash. Check these restrictions before you apply.
What to look out for when using a cheque cashing service
For someone considering using a cheque cashing service, it’s important to understand all the associated costs. These services can be very expensive, so it’s important to weigh up just how important it is to have access to the funds immediately rather than waiting a couple of days for it to clear via the bank.
When you go to cash a cheque, it’s likely you’ll need to provide some form of ID, so make sure you bring a valid form of identification.
Alternatives to cheque-cashing
In the UK, high-cost, short-term loans are restricted to charging a maximum of 0.8% per day, so this option could actually work out cheaper compared to a cheque cashing provider charging a percentage fee.
If you need the money immediately, you could take out a short term loan for 3 days while waiting for your cheque to clear at the bank, and then use the cheque money to pay off your short term loan the same day it clears.
Short term loans are still an expensive form of borrowing and should only be considered as a last resort.
Cheque cashing can be a suitable option for those looking for quick access to money that is tied up in a cheque. However, if you can afford to wait, it may be better to just cash your cheque directly with your bank and save yourself from additional fees.
Alternatively, a short term loan could be a more affordable option than cheque cashing, but make sure you check the cost of any potential loan before you apply.
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