Cashing a foreign cheque in the UK with banks and FX companies
Did you receive a foreign cheque from abroad? Whether you are repatriating funds or simply getting paid by someone abroad, you could be facing several difficulties. As simple and as straightforward as cashing a foreign cheque may sound, it comes with great hassles that remind us of how the banking system, and the world, operated some 100 years ago. It is unbelievable to us that this process is still as cumbersome, expensive, and borderline-impossible as it is.
Our reader Jason has contacted us some time ago with an inquiry. He wanted to cash in his U.S cheque in the UK without having to wait for the funds to be cleared over a period of 6 weeks as the bank proposed to him. He wanted to inquire whether any of the FX companies we know can help him in his situation.
After some back and forth, he conducted a thorough research. Here are his findings. Please note that this e-mail is published with Jason’s consent. We are extremely gratful that he brought this to our attention.
Jason’s Email – Summary of his Findings – Cashing a U.S cheque in the UK
September 10, 2018 – Original inquiry sent via our Contact Us form
Thank you very much for your informative reply email.
I received different information from FX dealers than the
information you provided in your email.
I approached two of the largest FX dealers in London
(and the world, for that matter,) World First FX Services
and Caxton. Both companies will exchange any currency
you have for any other you want, and/or, wire transfer
funds for you with FX rates on razor-thin margins, which
beat the high street bank’s rates by a ‘New York mile.’
I’ve been using these companies for years for my FX needs.
Bottom line with them is simple and terse: They do NOT
negotiate cheques, cash cheques or accept cheques under
any circumstances. This is what they told me.
I then took the USD cheque in question to 3 of Britain’s largest
high street banks, namely; Barclays, HSBC and Lloyd’s. They
each gave me the same information. They send USD cheques
presented to them for deposit back to the United States for
collection, which all 3 banks said takes an average time of
6 weeks, after which they credit their customer in the U.K.
But this is ONLY if their customer specifically states they want
to “send the cheque for collection.” The customer does,
however, have a secondary option.
All three of these banks have a ‘system’ in place wherein they
will do what they referred to as: “negotiating the cheque” on
behalf of their customer. This phrase, “negotiating the cheque”
may be left to one’s imagination, however, I think I get the drift.
If the negotiation is successful, these 3 banks will exchange the
USD cheque into Pound Sterling equivalent at the prevailing
bank FX rate on the day, minus a fee and then credit their
customer’s account for that amount of Pounds . . . “after about
6 or 7 banking days.” A deposit receipt is then sent to their
customer. The banks then send the cheque to America for
If the above-described negotiation is not successful, the
customer is left with 2 other choices:
1) tell his or her bank to send the cheque to America for
collection, which will take 6 weeks to accomplish if
it is in fact cleared, but knowing full well that the U.S.
bank on which the cheque is drawn may not clear the
cheque and, if so, it does not have to give a reason for
not clearing it.
2) retain the cheque and walk out.
If the U.S. bank does not clear the cheque for any reason
during the aforementioned average 6 week period, it will
inform the U.K. bank, which will then debit their customer’s
account for the amount they had previously been credited.
The entire scenario illustrated above is of course, in the
21st century, completely outrageous and ridiculous, imo.
And in case you’re wondering, I did ask the U.S. state
Treasury Department (the government body, which sent
the cheque to me) if they would please wire transfer the
funds to me, rather than sending a cheque as I clearly
explained to them that it was near impossible to cash
a USD cheque anywhere in the United Kingdom.
Their response was cold and abrupt. ‘We don’t do
bank transfers. We only send cheques. This is the
So there you have the facts. The facts on cashing USD
cheques in the U.K.
Plain and simple: you CAN’T. (depositing is different)
And the facts directly from the U.S. government Treasury.
Plain and simple: “We don’t do bank wires. Our policy.”
Hope this letter will be of some assistance to any other
viewers of MoneyTransferComparison.com who find
themselves “stuck in London with a U.S. dollar cheque
they can’t get cashed” like I was.
I sincerely do wish them the best of luck and hope they
don’t get hit with a migraine headache.
Jason 😊 “
Cashing a foreign cheque with a money transfer company
We have made our inquiries to some of our partners in the money transfer field. The first to respond was probably the most agile and flexible money transfer firm out of the “big 10” – Currencies Direct. They have indicated that they cannot accept cheques made paypable to an individual but they can quickly clear cheques made payable to Currencies Direct. In other words, before you receive that cheque, you will need to know who is your FX provider and have the cheque to its name. Currencies Direct or similar leading money transfer companies won’t charge you anything for clearing the cheque – but the standard FX margins they apply on all foreign currency transfers will apply, of course.
What did Jason do and how did it go?
I just thought you would like to know that Lloyds bank
took just 24 hours to ‘negotiate’ my USD cheque after
which they credited my account in Pounds.
The only disappointment was the 5% ‘profit’ they helped
themselves to out of MY money. FIVE PER CENT! This
is a huge hit when you’re dealing with a 5 figures cheque.
Thousands of Pounds in fact. Outright theft, imo.
I am very angry about this and will take it up with them
first thing tomorrow morning. This is an absolutely
horrible exchange rate. They ‘bought’ the dollars at
USD 1.334 to the Pound. Outrageous!
Other banks’ spreads are usually between 1 – 1½ %
I’ll be buying more gold and more crypto.
I am totally fed up with fiat money.
Based on our findings, there is no way to cash in your foreign cheque. You have one of two alternatives – either get it on the name of the your FX company so they can cash it instantly, use a bank to deposit it and wait 6 weeks for clearance, or use the bank’s negotiation service and pay through your nose. We are sure there are other solutions as well but knowing the financial services industry we would assume these solutions are more apt to small businesses receiving cheques from abroad on a regular basis than a one-off foreign cheque.