How to cash a dollar cheque in a UK bank?
January 16, 2007 3:22 AM   Subscribe

UK bank filter. I get small cheques from an Ameican tech publisher, drawn on an American bank., for dollar amounts. My UK bank wants to take 28 days to clear them, and deducts an unspecified amount to do it. Any recommendations for UK banks that are in the 21st century?

(The tech publisher won't use Paypal; they say that their US authors, who are the majority, prefer cheques).
posted by Pericles to Work & Money (19 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Everything about Lloyds TSB is bad, and I strongly recommend you don't use them. However, I just paid in a bunch of US dollar cheques without major delays or fees. It took perhaps a day longer than normal clearing (3 days?).

I think most banks can manage this -- Smile also claim to be able to.
posted by beniamino at 3:33 AM on January 16, 2007

[Oh, do you really mean cash? I wasn't cashing the cheques but paying them into my current account. Perhaps that's the source of the delay?]
posted by beniamino at 3:35 AM on January 16, 2007

Response by poster: Thanks, beniamino; I mean pay them into my current account.
posted by Pericles at 4:04 AM on January 16, 2007

Citibank UK will set you up with a current account in dollars to run alongside your sterling one.

You mail in the dollar cheque in a prepaid envelope and it credits the account, I think, within a week or so.

You can then transfer the money immediately into your sterling account if you want, or keep it in the dollar account, depending I guess on your predictions about exchange rates...
posted by game warden to the events rhino at 4:18 AM on January 16, 2007

If you have the funds to set up a dollar account, then that's your best option. If not, I seem to remember that NatWest charged a tenner for any number of cheques totalling under $1000 with relatively swift clearing, but that may have changed. That said, I think the shortened clearing period is a provisional thing, based upon the drawer, and it still takes 28 days for them to be fully cleared. Gotta love the world of global finance.
posted by holgate at 4:29 AM on January 16, 2007

As holgate says, it's actually more dependent upon the originating bank; the cheque could still bounce or be cancelled or something for quite a while after the recipient thinks the cheque has been cleared.

Would it be easier to get your US publisher to hold onto the cheques until a threshold is reached, and then send you one larger cheque (i.e. they hold onto some of the clearing risk), or perhaps get them to do a direct bank transfer (although there may be more of a cost involved with this)?
posted by Chunder at 4:36 AM on January 16, 2007

Find an American friend with a Paypal account and a US dollar bank account, get future cheques made out to him/her, he cashes them and deposits the money into your Paypal account.

The trouble with a Citibank UK Dollar account is that there's a minimum threshold.
posted by badlydubbedboy at 4:38 AM on January 16, 2007

You might try Auctionchex -- i haven't used the service, but according to this thread it seems to work ok.

In the future, you might try asking if their bank offers TIPANET transactions -- it's the cheapest way to send a bank transfer overseas that I've found.
posted by ukdanae at 4:49 AM on January 16, 2007

Badlydubbedboy: yes, there's a minimum balance, but it's across all your Citibank accounts. I think the minimum balance is £2000. Your dollar account can still just have a few dollars in it, and the cheques you bank can be for tiny amounts, and it'll all be done for free providing you have £2000 with Citibank in total.
posted by game warden to the events rhino at 4:56 AM on January 16, 2007

"Your dollar account can still just have a few dollars in it..."

Watch out though - Natwest pays far less than 1% interest on US Dollar accounts - currently 0.3%. I haven't used mine in a long time, as I've got a US based brokerage account and in addition to the incredibly small interest rate they took 21 business days to clear.
posted by Mutant at 5:25 AM on January 16, 2007

In my experience, using PayPal to transfer funds from a US account to a UK account does not provide a very good exchange rate.
HSBC claim to be a "global bank". Perhaps they have a more efficient system?
posted by medium format at 6:01 AM on January 16, 2007

First Direct (part of HSBC) deals with my quarterly US royalty cheques. Their exchange rate is usually a cent or two away from the day's headline rate (better than Paypal, in other words) and they deduct a £10 fee per cheque. Usually takes the cheque about a week to clear.

I second the advice on Lloyds TSB. They're vampires.
posted by Hogshead at 6:40 AM on January 16, 2007

i am in spain and i've had alot of luck with citibank. i have my paycheck linked to an account and i can make up to 6000 per months transfers among citibank accounts. we're not talking apples to oranges but i've found in all my international dealings, citibank ultimately has the lowest fees because they are everywhere.
posted by BigBrownBear at 7:27 AM on January 16, 2007

British bank in the 21st century? Wha ha ha ha ha! Thanks for the best laugh of my week. And avoid Barclays.
posted by meerkatty at 7:41 AM on January 16, 2007

I get paid in dollars and have a USD account and a current account with Barclays. Cheques clear pretty quickly, but a handling fee is charged based on the amount involved. I changed my monthly payments to direct deposit to the USD account and pay a small flat fee per transaction. It's also free to move dollars over to my sterling account. I'm not sure if that's the best solution, but as I'm only back in the UK for a year it'll work just fine for that amount of time.
posted by poissonrouge at 8:04 AM on January 16, 2007

I wouldn't recommend Citibank. They are fee-free, but it takes aaaaages for them to clear the check (14 days or in my experience) and then a long time to get the stuff transferred into your normal UK account.

smile are good - they charge a little but they get the job done and are friendly with it:
"if your cheques are less than the equivalent of £2000 then it takes 5 working days to get them into your account. We charge £4 for paying cheques up to the value of £100 into your account and £8 for cheques between £100 - £2000."
posted by humuhumu at 8:10 AM on January 16, 2007

Response by poster: brilliant advice, everyone, for which I thank you. For what it's worth, the 17th century bank that are frustrating me is the Halifax.
posted by Pericles at 8:30 AM on January 16, 2007

Second Game Warden, no fees with Citibank even if they are a little tardy.
posted by arcticseal at 12:01 PM on January 16, 2007

Best answer: Is there a bank with subsidiaries in both countries, or two banks that are affiliated? Maybe Bank of America, for example, has a UK affiliate. I avoid the foreign-cheque-delay between the US and Canada by depositing the cheque in my US bank affiliated with my Canadian bank (I have accounts at both banks), and then moving the money between my accounts online, which is almost instantaneous. Of course this means I have to pay bank fees on two accounts instead of one, but as it's only about $6/month per account, it's worth it to me. But that's for Canada so I don't know who to suggest for the UK. Surely enough people bank in both countries that somebody's serving them.
posted by joannemerriam at 2:33 PM on January 16, 2007

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