Before You Use a Check-Cashing Store

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Some people rely on check cashing stores to cash checks. These stores charge very high fees. There are less costly ways to cash that check.


  • ASK FOR THE FEE IN DOLLAR AMOUNTS. Many check cashing stores post their fees in percentages (%), making it unclear what it really costs to cash the check.
  • INSIST ON AN ITEMIZED RECEIPT. If you have to use a check-cashing store, be sure the terms of service are exactly what they say they are. Many check cashing stores charge different fees depending on the time of day and the employee who cashes your check. Ask for a receipt that lists:
    • The amount of the check;
    • The fee; and
    • The amount of cash received. Then compare the amounts with the fees you were told or that were posted at the store.

COMPARE COSTS. Check out what you would have to pay if you used one of these other places:

  • CHECKING OR SAVINGS ACCOUNT. By opening or using a basic checking or savings account at a Bank, a Savings & Loan, or a Credit Union, you can save on cashing checks. The monthly fee for a basic checking account is often less than the fee a check cashing store charges for just one check.
  • BANKS, SAVINGS & LOANS, CREDIT UNIONS. Even if you don't have an account with them, most banks, savings and loans, and credit unions will cash government and payroll checks for less than the check cashing store charges.
  • ETA. If you get federal benefits, you can open an Electronic Transfer Account (ETA). ETAs are a new type of bank account that accepts direct deposit of your federal payments electronically. The basic cost of the account is $3.00 or less each month. You can make at least four cash withdrawals and balance inquiries per month without paying any more fees. Not all banks offer ETAs. You can ask a bank if they offer ETAs, or you can check the list of banks offering ETAs at

Additional Resources

  • Consumer Federation of America
  • Electronic Transfer Account Locator Service
  • The U.S. Department of Treasury maintains a Web site that explains ETA accounts - in English and Spanish - and provides a locator service to find the nearest ETA place offering this service:

Persons over the age of 60 may obtain advice and consultation at 1-800-200-3633, the Legal HelpLine for Older Kentuckians.

Reviewed August 2009