Money, money, money

Danielle Toth

The easiest way to manage your paycheck

You’ve worked the hours.

You’ve received the paycheck.

Now what?

The most common methods of cashing checks, whether paychecks or personal checks, are bank-sponsored checking accounts and check-cashing businesses.

Tina Lucas, a personal banker at Huntington National Bank on East Main Street, said the main benefit of using a checking account to cash checks is customers can pay bills directly from their accounts. Also, employers can directly deposit their employees’ paychecks into a checking account, eliminating the need for paper checks at all.

“My Acme paychecks are direct deposited into my checking account,” said Brian Nichols, freshman computer animation and design major. “It’s nice because my money is right there for me to take out when I need it, and I don’t have to worry about losing or forgetting my paychecks.”

Also, it is easier to write a personal check or use a bank’s checking card that is backed by a credit card company than to carry cash around, Lucas said.

There is no minimum balance of money to keep in the account for Huntington’s free checking accounts; however, the bank will charge customers a $31 fee if they withdraw more than what is in the account.

With the free checking account, customers receive unlimited check writing and unlimited ATM transactions and also receive the Huntington Visa Check Card, which can be used to purchase goods like a credit card or to make electronic transactions at an ATM.

There aren’t too many drawbacks to checking accounts, Lucas said.

“I suppose somebody wouldn’t want to use a checking account if they’ve had overdraft fees in the past, or if they’re mad at the bank for some reason,” she said. “But check-cashing places have larger fees – more than the occasional overdraft fee.”

Fees can be large at payroll advance businesses – $15 for a $100 check at Advance America on state Route 43 – however, companies like these don’t actually cash checks.

The places that do are primarily within an existing business, such as grocery stores like Tops or Acme, which will cash checks for a small fee.

To cash a payroll check at an Acme store, the customer must have an Acme card issued with check-cashing benefits, said Brad Allison, former Acme employee and junior finance major. To obtain this card, customers must provide an Ohio license or another form of ID, such as a passport or Canadian health insurance card.

After applying, there is a 10-day waiting period before the customer can cash a check, and then each time he or she cashes a check, Acme charges a $3 fee no matter the amount, although the check cannot be more than $500, Allison said. There must be a formal address printed on the check, and only one check can be cashed per seven-day period.

“There are no ‘special benefits’ to the customer, other than having the Acme card, which will give you the sale prices,” Allison said. “Occasionally there are drawings for prizes – when I worked there we gave away a bike and some gift certificates – that are tied to the Acme card, so scanning your Acme card to cash a payroll check can enroll you in those. Thus you would get more entries than people who just buy groceries. Also, sometimes coupons come out when the card is scanned but they are tied to past purchases, not simply for cashing a check.”

Cashing a personal check is a much easier process, Allison said.

“You need to have check cashing on your Acme card,” he said. “One personal check, up to $50, can be cashed every day. All you need to do is show your Acme card and driver’s license. There is no charge to cash a personal check. It’s a good way to avoid ATM fees. Also, checks can be written at the register for $20 over the amount of purchase.”

Whatever the choice, opening a checking account or cashing at the local grocery store, getting that paycheck cashed may be the most important thing – next to paying the bills.

Contact features editor Danielle Toth at [email protected]