I placed in a poker tournament at a casino the other day. I went to my bank, Charles Schwab, to deposit the cash. They said "We don't accept cash deposits." I found this very odd given they're a bank, but I'm sure they have their reasons. They told me to go and get a money order from a nearby convenience store, but that would cost me $1-$2 per pop with a maximum of $500 per money order. Surely there has got to be a better way to get cash into a bank account? What's a recommended way that will charge me as little as possible to convert cash into digital funds?
The cheapest solution is to find a different bank or credit union. Most accept cash deposits unless they are online only and even then some offer ATM deposits.
Make sure to research fees, but there are plenty of free checking/savings accounts at banks and credit unions that will take cash deposits with no cost to you.
I switched to online banking years ago but keep a local credit union account open as a go-between for any cash transactions.
Congratulations on your win. One of the skills that is often overlooked in poker is cash management. Hopefully big tournament wills will be more common place and you need to have plan on how to deal with the cash. Some will be needed to replenish or build your bankroll. How do you store that cash? A decent safe in the house is a good idea, a safety deposit box at the bank, or some have cash boxes at the casino. It all depends on the level you plan and how much you feel comfortable carrying around and having in the house.
While Charles Schwab is a bank, it is not a traditional one. They started out as a brokerage account and probably started as a "cash management" business that is sort of like a bank, but with less regulatory requirements. In order to deposit cash, you probably need a more traditional brick and mortar type bank like Chase, Wells Fargo, or a local credit union. One of these more traditional banks would have safety deposit boxes where Charles Schwab does not seem to.
One alternative is payday lenders. Amscot, and some of their competitors, offer free money orders. From their website they offer unlimited money orders 365 days per year, 24 hours per day. Crazy, huh? Typically I would be loathe to suggest a payday lender to anyone but in this case it makes sense. Please don't use their other services though. Clearly this is a loss leader for them, aimed at driving traffic to their stores, that will lead to highly profitable transactions. Again, please avoid those.
If you regularly make payments to somebody else by a noncash method, but they'll accept cash, substitute this cash for your usual payment. For example, I normally donate to my church by instructing them online to withdraw my donation from my checking account, but in the past when I've had a large amount of cash I've simply donated the cash to them instead, and stopped making donations from my checking account until the amount I would otherwise have donated equals the cash, i.e. until I have "used up" the cash donation.