Using a Licensed Check Casher
What is a Check Casher?
A check casher is a business that charges consumers a fee for cashing a check, draft or money order. Check Cashers operate through a network of branches, storefronts or businesses that advertise check cashing services. Any advertisement by a check casher licensed by the DFS must always include the phrase: "Licensed by the Superintendent of Financial Services pursuant to article 9-A of the Banking Law."
The fee charged for cashing a check can vary from one licensed check casher to the next; however, the maximum fee permissible by law is set annually, based upon year-to-year changes in the consumer price index for the New York - Northern New Jersey - Long Island, NY-NJ-CT-PA area for all urban consumers. Find the “Annual Maximum Check Cashers Fee” here.Get a Receipt
Check cashers are required, by regulation, to provide receipts to customers for every check cashed. Be sure to retain receipts since they are records of the transactions performed and may help resolve disputes that may arise.
The Superintendent’s Regulations require that receipts include all of the following:
- the face amount of each check;
- the fee charged for cashing each check;
- the face amount of each money order sold;
- the cost of each money order;
- the amount given, by the customer, for utility bill payments;
- the fee charged for utility bill payments;
- deductions for other services provided;
- the balance to be paid to the customer;
- the date of transactions; and
- the name and address of the check casher.
Consider the Alternatives
Shop around for lower fees. Some banks and credit unions will cash government and payroll checks for less than what check cashers charge, even if you don’t have an account with them. Also, you may be able to cash a check at the bank from which it was drawn, for little or no fee.
Basic Bank Accounts
Another option to consider is opening a basic banking account, which all banks chartered by New York State are required to offer, by law. The minimum amount required to open a basic bank account is only $25.00 and the maximum monthly maintenance fee permitted is $3.00. The balance required to keep the account open is one penny!
With a basic banking account you must be allowed at least eight withdrawals (by check, ATM or debit card purchase) per month at no additional charge. Different banks may offer slightly different features on accounts comparable to the basic banking account (like 12 withdrawals for $4 instead of eight withdrawals for $3 a month). The bank may require you be a resident of New York State. The bank can ask you to provide the same information and identification that anyone else is asked to provide when opening an account at that bank and may have to close transaction accounts you might have at that or any other bank.
Electronic Transfer Account (ETA )
If you receive a federal check on a regular basis, you may be able to open an Electronic Transfer Account (ETA). An ETA is a bank account that lets you receive your federal payments electronically, by direct deposit, for $3.00 or less a month. You can make at least four withdrawals per month. Check with your local bank to see if it offers this service and to learn what their requirements are for opening an ETA account. The Department of Treasury explains ETA accounts on their Web site —in English and Spanish—and provides a locator service to find the nearest ETA offering this service.