The nation’s biggest retailer recently announced that it is expanding its check cashing operations.
Walmart has become a huge competitor for typical check cashing stores because its fees for getting checks cashed are way less pricey than everyone else.
You usually find those check cashing stores in low-income communities where there aren’t many banks. You usually find Walmart…everywhere.
Walmart’s head of Financial Services, Daniel Eckert, said in a statement that the expansion “now enables Walmart to bring everyday low price cashing services to more customers who have a need for immediate access to their cash.”
But saving people money when they cash checks obviously isn’t Walmart’s only motive.
The expansion means Wally World will now cash a variety of different kinds of checks including…
- Rebate checks
- Student loan checks
- 401k checks
- Retirement checks
- Insurance checks
- MoneyGram money orders
- Payroll and government payment cards
Walmart already cashes payroll, government and tax refund checks. It does not cash personal checks.
Eckert really wants Walmart folks to think the big-box retailer is doing customers a huge favor.
“We are constantly looking for ways to make life better for our customers while saving them money,” he said.
And it’s true…the savings are pretty enormous.
According to Daily Finance, in New York it would cost you more than $18 to cash a $1,000 check and $93 to cash a checks for $5000. But at Walmart, you’d only be charged a $3 fee for a $1,000 check and $6 for the $5,000 check.
It’s worth noting that Walmart does not offer check cashing service in New York because of restrictions – but you get the picture. Usually customers of check cashing stores pay between 2% to 4% of the check’s value.
Sidenote: At Check Advantage, we highly encourage our readers and customers to open a personal checking account at a bank in their community. While it’s true that banks are introducing many new fees, they pale in comparison to how much check cashing and payday loan companies try to rip you off.
So it seems like Walmart Financial Services is doing something nice for folks who need cash fast. But here’s the real motive.
Once you’ve cashed your big fat check…you’re standing there in Walmart holding a wad of cash.
There’s got to be something you need/want/should pick up while you’re out and about. Maybe an energy drink, some cigarettes and batteries for the remote control…yeah that oughta do it. But oh look…the bargain DVD bin! And Doritos are on sale!
Walmart knows that you’re very likely to spend money if they already have you there with cash in hand. Making it easier for you to cash checks at Walmart also makes it easier for you to spend cash at Walmart.
It’s a pretty good strategy. Perhaps that’s why K-Mart has also entered the check cashing business.
All retailers have come to the realization that just getting you in the store is half the battle. That’s why we told you that early back-to-school shopping can lead to more spending than you expect.
A spokesman for the Financial Service Centers of America – which represents most check cashing stores – doesn’t think Walmart’s expansion is such a big deal. That’s because typical check cashing customers live in inner cities where it’s unlikely you’ll find a huge Walmart Super-Center.
But wait! We’ve forgotten about another new development in the retail world….the Walmart Express.
The plan for these smaller stores is to compete with dollar stores that have been stealing Walmart’s business during the tough economic times. These are like little Walmart corner stores designed to fit conveniently into cities where real estate is tough to find.
Guess what service will be offered at every Walmart Express…check cashing.
If getting some of your checks cashed at Walmart is convenient or your best option, that’s fine. But don’t get duped into spending your money on things you really don’t need.
Image Credit: Ron Dauphin
+Kasey Steinbrinck writes about personal finances and the economy for Check Advantage. The online company offers cheap checks including QuickBooks checks for small businesses and dog checks for personal use.