Depositing international checks without a hassle
August 15, 2013 7:23 AM   Subscribe

I have a checking account at PNC Bank. I want to be able to deposit Canadian checks (in Canadian dollars) and they make it a really huge hassle: phone calls, forms, exorbitant fees and then a six week hold on the funds. Are there any US banks that will allow me to open a free checking account and deposit Canadian checks with a minimum of fuss, fees, and delay? I'm entirely willing to look to online options if that makes sense. I'm in Pennsylvania.
posted by ootandaboot to Work & Money (18 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
Just a suggestion to try TD Bank, since they have a Canadian parent company (Toronto Dominion).
posted by spitbull at 7:26 AM on August 15, 2013


In my experience doing this the other way (cashing USD cheques in Canada), the solution has been to open a separate account at that bank denominated in the relevant foreign currency.

When depositing USD cheques to my USD account in Canada, I have no fees or extra hold time. I still have to deal with usurious exchange rates when I try to withdraw CAD from the USD account of course.
posted by 256 at 7:28 AM on August 15, 2013


I was about to suggest TD - I believe that they're the only bank that will let you open both US and Canadian accounts on either side of the border. There's a bit of paperwork since it's an actual Canadian account and not just a Canadian dollar account but it might be worth it upfront to reduce your aggravation in the long term.
posted by scrute at 8:30 AM on August 15, 2013


I have been very happy with xe.com's international transfer service. They have low fees and a reasonable exchange rate. You transfer the money to them in one currency, they transfer it elsewhere in another. On the American end, they can transfer direct to your bank via ACH. On the Canadian end, I don't know if you could just send them the checks; you'll probably need a Canadian account, but you can check it out for yourself.
posted by ubiquity at 8:37 AM on August 15, 2013


I don't know if you could just send them the checks

You cannot.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 8:37 AM on August 15, 2013


My fiancee and I had the exact same problem - she's Canadian, living in the US, and receives CAD checks from time to time.

She talked to TD and they were precisely zero help. The US bank has essentially no functional relationship with the Canadian branch. They were not able to open an account in the US that maintained money in CAD. Likewise, the Canadian TD didn't have a way to deposit checks into that account from the US.

Ultimately we decided to find a bank that would accept the CAD checks and turn them into USD without exorbitant fees. One of our local credit unions was helpful on this front. It's still a bit of a process - an extra form to fill out every time you deposit, plus you have to do it in person and it takes weeks to handle, but the fees aren't egregious.
posted by heresiarch at 8:39 AM on August 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Could you open an account with a Canadian bank that accepts check deposits by taking a picture of the check with a smartphone? At least you could get the money into a bank, at which point you can move the money over to your US bank using xe.com as needed.

Failing that, I've heard that HSBC is fairly good for people who need to have accounts in multiple currencies, and their banking operations in different countries actually talk to each other.
posted by penguinicity at 8:48 AM on August 15, 2013


I'll second the recommendation for a credit union. Mine charges a $5 fee for processing foreign checks, unlike my mutual savings bank, which charges nearly $50.
posted by brianogilvie at 8:51 AM on August 15, 2013


Credit unions vary. The one we used in Texas charged us something like $50 to deposit a check from a Canadian bank that was already in USD. Took weeks and in the end the only thing they could think to do was pay the Canadian bank to convert it to a wire transfer.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:30 AM on August 15, 2013


I bank with Chase and when I want to deposit a Canadian dollar cheque I have to go into the bank to deposit it but they do it quickly with a minimal amount of hassle/fees.
posted by SpaceWarp13 at 9:46 AM on August 15, 2013


Failing that RBC had a US bank and allows free transfers between the us an Canadian bank and may otherwise be easier to deal with as they deal with a lot of Canadians.
posted by SpaceWarp13 at 9:48 AM on August 15, 2013


I use TD Bank; their website claims they will let you do this, but I've never had occasion to try it. So I'm not sure what fees they charge for the privilege.
posted by tckma at 10:05 AM on August 15, 2013


Another possible option: PayPal allows you to deposit checks using their smartphone camera app, and they accept currencies worldwide and convert it to your home currency. Again, I haven't had occasion to try this.
posted by tckma at 10:09 AM on August 15, 2013


Would it be possible to have the check-issuer do a wire-transfer instead? This works well for me, though the country of issue is not Canada. This is arranged on the sending end, but your account # and routing info is needed. The entire transaction is completed within 48 hours. There is a small fee charged but the process is straightforward and typically used for international funds transfer these days.
posted by citygirl at 11:21 AM on August 15, 2013


Is it reasonable for you to ask the Canadians who are writing the cheques to write them in U.S. dollars? It's orders of magnitude more common (and easier) for a Canadian to open a U.S. dollar account at a Canadian bank than vice versa. My parents live in Canada, while I live in the States, and whenever they need to pay me back for something (or vice versa) we do the transaction in USD, with a cheque to move funds between their U.S. dollar account and my U.S. bank account.

This probably isn't practical if we're talking about selling things online or doing free-lance work for Canadian clients; but if there are going to be only one or two people writing you cheques, and you have a personal relationship with them, you might ask them how easy it would be for them to set up a USD account at their bank.
posted by Johnny Assay at 12:02 PM on August 15, 2013


Is it reasonable for you to ask the Canadians who are writing the cheques to write them in U.S. dollars?

If they open a USD account that is drawn on a branch in Canada, checks written on it will still be non-U.S. checks and subject to the fees and extended holds for foreign checks (but at least you don't have to worry about the exchange rate).
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 12:39 PM on August 15, 2013


If they open a USD account that is drawn on a branch in Canada, checks written on it will still be non-U.S. checks and subject to the fees and extended holds for foreign checks (but at least you don't have to worry about the exchange rate).

True, but my understanding is that the "Big Five", at least, have branch offices in the USA upon which these USD cheques are drawn. This is true for Bank of Montreal, at least; when my parents send me a cheque drawn on their BoM account, it says in the fine print "Payable via Bank of Montreal, 123 Fake St., New York, NY, USA." (Or words to that effect.)
posted by Johnny Assay at 1:23 PM on August 15, 2013


TD does in fact do this, but have only done so since last December so it's possible your local branch staff my need a little coaching or prompting to figure it out if they haven't had to do it very often. They do have branches on Pennsylvania but they have probably not had as much experience as in a place like, say, Florida.
posted by scrute at 5:01 PM on August 15, 2013


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