I'll receive a USD cheque shortly. I prefered payment by money transfer, but all attempts to do so - i.e. SWIFT/IBAN, Payoneer, transferwise - failed. Now I will receive a cheque by mail. I contacted my bank and they say that they can cash a cheque for me, given a (prob hefty) fee. The bank employee was so kind to warn me, that in case of a cheque the funds are cashed, but reserved until the legal reimbursement period ends, which apparently is between 3 and 6 months.

Is there really no quicker way to receive payments by cheque and have access to the funds quickly?

3 Answers 3


You can spend the money quite quickly. The problem is that if there is something wrong with the check, the bank will ask you for the money back. If the check is from a trusted source (a trusted friend, a business with good reputation etc.) that's fine. If the money is from an untrusted source, make sure that having to pay back the money doesn't get you into trouble. Since most people are honest, this is fine for a small amount, but if it's more than you can afford to pay back, don't spend it.

A simple scam is that people send you checks, "by mistake" the check is for the wrong amount, say $910 instead of $190, and they ask you to send the difference back. So you put $910 into your account, send them $720, and six weeks later your bank asks for their $910 back. If someone pays you too much on a check and asks you to pay them the difference, you know it is a scam.


Some years ago I was in a similar situation with a CAD cheque. I did not experience any reservation period of months. Within Canada, around a week was usual, and as far as I remember that was the case also for the cheque deposited to the EUR account.

You could ask your bank whether a certified cheque (has to be done at the "home" bank of the sender) will have the same reservation period and what the processing time will be anyways.

I found a large variation of the (large) fees for cashing foreign cheques. It may be worth asking a few different banks for their conditions (both fees and duration for the whole process).

  • 1
    There's a short(ish) time until the money is in your account, but a much longer time where the bank can ask for the money back in case of fraud.
    – gnasher729
    Commented Sep 15, 2014 at 16:15

The easiest options appear to be to open an account with one of the large multinational banks like Citi. They have options such as opening two separate checking accounts, one in each currency, and Citi in particular has an international account that appears to make mutli-currency personal banking easier. All of the options have minimum balance requirements or fees for conversion, but if you need quick access this seems to be the best bet. Even if this is a one-time event and you don't need the account, a bank like Citi may be able to help you cash the check and get access to the funds quicker than a national or local bank.


Alternatively if you know anyone with a US bank account you can deposit it with them and take the cash withdrawal from their account, assuming they agree, the check isn't too large, etc.

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