If you’re wondering, “Where can I cash a Canadian check?” you’ve come to the right place. Chances are, if you have received a Canadian check and need to cash it in the U.S., you know that it can be a real headache. Alas, it’s not impossible! We’ve explained how cashing a Canadian check works, highlighted issues that may arise, and provided information on banks that will be best to work with. Spoiler: you’ll have to deposit a Canadian check at a US bank account before you can get at the cash. Keep reading to learn how to turn your loonies and toonies into American cash.
What to Know About Cashing a Canadian Check in the U.S.
Because we’re talking about two different countries and two different currencies, cashing a Canadian check can be a bit complex. To save yourself (and your banker) time and energy, read the information below before diving into the process.
Cashing vs. Depositing
You can’t simply cash a Canadian check at a U.S. bank. In fact, you can’t directly cash any foreign check at a U.S. bank. Instead, you must first deposit the check into your checking account, and then withdraw the cash, if you wish. You must therefore be a customer at the bank where you’re cashing a Canadian check.
Canadian checks can clear in two different ways: check negotiation and check collection. Your best case scenario will be a check negotiation, which allows banks to clear foreign checks in three to five business days.
Having your check sent for collection is a sometimes unavoidable burden, as it protects banks from potential fraud. Check collection requires your check to be sent to its originating bank and the process can take up to 30 days. Banks send foreign checks for collection for various reasons. For example, your check may be sent for collection if you deposit one for a much larger amount than usual.
Depositing foreign checks is notorious for racking up fees. The process of depositing a Canadian check in a U.S. bank account is a complex task, so many banks tack on charges for different stages of the process. We’ve inquired about fees at each of the banks below and listed any mentioned. Please note, you should expect to incur fees at the U.S. bank where you are depositing your check, as well as the Canadian bank it originated from. It is likely one or both of the banks will charge fees for their services.
When depositing a Canadian check in an American bank account, you will receive its value in U.S. currency. The currency exchange rate you see online or in the news is not the rate you will get at the bank. Most banks exchange rates are less favorable than the aforementioned rates. These rates will vary from bank to bank and from day to day. You will likely receive the rate based on the day you deposit your check.
U.S. Banks With Canadian Branches
If it is an option, try depositing your Canadian check at the same bank it originated from. This is possible, of course, through U.S. banks that have Canadian branches (or Canadian banks that have US branches). This will may eliminate a few fees and make the complex process a bit simpler. Each of the following banks has branches in Canada.
The Best U.S. Banks for Cashing a Canadian Check
Below is a list of U.S. banks we recommend for cashing a Canadian check. We contacted each of the following banks to verify their policies on depositing Canadian checks. Keep in mind, Canadian checks must first be deposited into a checking account before you can withdraw the cash. Most American banks will actually allow you to deposit Canadian checks; however, many are notorious for charging high fees and long hold times. Our list includes those with the lower fees and shorter hold times, ensuring you get the most bang for your buck — nay, loonie.
1. Bank of America
- Restrictions: Canadian checks cannot be deposited via mobile or ATM.
- Applicable fees: Bank of America does charge a fee for this service, but the amount will depend on your specific location. The payee’s bank will also likely charge a fee.
- Estimated hold times: The amount deposited will be available immediately, but that amount may change, as the entire process can take up to eight weeks.
- Currency exchange policy: Rates are determined by Bank of America; see their foreign currency calculator for current rates.
- How to deposit your check: Checks must be hand-delivered to a Bank of America teller.
- Find a Bank of America
- Restrictions: Canadian checks must be at least $300 and no more than $5,000.
- Applicable fees: Chase does not charge fees for this service, but the issuing bank might.
- Estimated hold times: The process can take up two six weeks.
- Currency exchange policy: Chase describes their exchange rate as “less favorable than the exchange rate for institutions that is usually quoted in newspapers or online services.”
- How to deposit your check: Checks must be hand-delivered to a Chase bank teller.
- Find a Chase
3. HSBC Bank USA
- Restrictions: Canadia checks cannot be deposited via mobile or ATM.
- Applicable fees: HSBC does not charge fees for this service, but the issuing bank might.
- Estimated hold times: The process can take up to 30 days.
- Currency exchange policy: Currency conversion rates are provided by HSBC, not rates posted in the media. The rates applied will be the rates of the day you deposit your check.
- How to deposit your check: Checks must be hand-delivered to an HSBC teller.
- Find an HSBC
4. Toronto Dominion Bank
- Restrictions: Canadian checks must be at least U.S. $100 to deposit.
- Estimated Hold Times: Funds from deposits under $5,000 will be available no later than the third day after your deposit. Deposits of $5,000 or more will be available by the seventh day after your deposit. If your check is sent for collection, it could take 30 calendar days for your check to become available.
- Applicable Fees: Checks sent for collection will accrue a $17.50 fee.
- Currency Exchange Policy: Currency conversion rates are provided by Toronto Dominion Bank Traders, not rates posted in the media.
- How to Deposit Your Check: Checks must be hand-delivered to a Toronto Dominion Bank teller.
- Find a TD Bank
5. Wells Fargo
- Restrictions: Canadian checks cannot be deposited via mobile or ATM.
- Applicable fees: Checks sent out for collection will accrue a $75 fee. You will learn whether or not your check will be sent for collection at the time of your deposit.
- Estimated hold times: Funds from deposits should be available by the third day after your deposit. If your check is sent for collection, it could take 30 calendar days for your check to become available.
- Currency exchange policy: The rates applied will be the rates of the day you deposit your check. Contact a Foreign Exchange Specialist at (800) 786-5593 for the current rates.
- How to deposit your check: Checks must be hand-delivered to a Wells Fargo teller.
- Find a Wells Fargo
Places That Don’t Cash Canadian Checks
Although you can usual deposit a Canadian check at a US bank, stores are unable to do so. As explained above, Canadian checks cannot simply be cashed but must first be deposited into a checking account. The following locations don’t cash Canadian checks:
- Check Cashing Stores
- Gas Stations
- Grocery Stores
Although it can be a daunting task, cashing a Canadian check doesn’t have to be all that bad! We hope this list was helpful in guiding you to the best bank for your needs. While you can’t cash a Canadian check at U.S. supercenters, pharmacies, grocery stores, or gas stations, you still have some options! When depositing Canadian check in U.S. bank, Toronto Dominion Bank, Wells Fargo, U.S. Bank, Bank of America, and Chase are your best options for a smooth process. Furthermore, if your check was written at one of the aforementioned banks’ Canadian branches, you will have your funds even sooner!
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