Check cashing comes to ATMs

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Need to cash a check but don’t have a checking account? At least one large bank, Regions Bank, now allows you to do so at some of its 2,100 ATMs.

It’s hard to know how many people have ditched their checking accounts since the financial crisis, but we do have at least one metric that seems to show their numbers have grown: banks’ increasing efforts to cater to them.

In recent years, banks have pushed aggressively into providing so-called alternative financials services such as payday lending and check cashing.

The Regions ATM service is essentially an extension of the check-cashing services that it currently offers at branches. Customers who have either a checking account or prepaid debit Regions Now Card can insert their checks into selected Regions ATMs and receive up to $3,000 in real cash, with the remainder deposited into their prepaid or checking account.

In return for providing that cash, Regions charges a bank fee of 1 percent to 3 percent of the check amount, the same fee it charges for in-branch check cashing. It’s worth noting that if you have any money in your account or on your prepaid card already, you could simply deposit the check for free and withdraw whatever cash is already there.

One thing that would appear to be an issue from Regions’ perspective would be fraud. After all, with remote deposit capture and ATM check deposits, banks have always had a check and balance of having some time to process the check before crediting your checking account. If you deposited, say, a worthless piece of paper, they’d catch on before they were out any cash.

But that’s not an issue, according to a Regions spokeswoman. She says the company has contracted Chexar to examine and process the checks instantly before handing out cash.

What do you think? Would you use an ATM for check cashing?