As you say Citibank will do it for nothing
"A monthly service charge of $20 on each US$ Current Account will be levied where the credit balance, across your UK Citibank relationship, falls below the currency equivalent of £2000. "
If you have a lot then it would pay to keep the £2000 there.
If the amounts are small, I take a stack of small dollar cheques on one paying in form to my Barclays account, and only pay one charge
Citibank sounds attractive but I have read their exchange rate is no longer very good at around 2%.
If any one can confirm approx bank exchange rates they have experienced.
I use Nat West - no charge per cheque, just a single fee depending on the total value of all cheques paid in.
0 - £100 total value = £5 charge
£100 - £5,000 total value = £10 charge
£5,000 - £20,000 total value = £30 charge
Above £20,000 = £60 charge
This is for a personal account - nobody has ever questioned me on where the cheques come from and asked me if I would like to "upgrade" to a business account - where I assume the charges would be higher.
Exchange rates seem fairly reasonable - about 2-3 cents below the current rate, which is a standard kind of rip off charged by all banks - but not excessively so.
[edited by: Tiebreaker at 4:38 pm (utc) on Jan. 13, 2008]
Thanks Tiebreaker, a £10 charge to change up to £5000 worth would cover me most of the time and the exchange is comparative with what I had.
With my current doubts about the Citibank exchange rate and the fact all cheques would need to be snail-mailed I may try Nat West first.
Tiebreaker I have just been into Nat West and they tell me for three cheques in the £3500 range it would cost £10.50 for the first and £10 each for each subsequent cheque, £30.50 total.
The guy in the bank hadn't heard of cheques being bundled together for one price so he rang through to get confirmation and I ended up talking to the other guy down the phone.
Good on you if you got a better deal somehow but I couldn't get it.
Maybe they have just changed their fees - it's been about 3 months since I last paid in a bundle.
I usually pay in 2-3 cheques together, with a total value usually of only a few hundred pounds - I have never been charged more than £10
Saying that, I've never paid in a cheque for thousands - my big payers do a bank transfer - the figures I gave you were given to me when I first asked at the bank 3-4 years ago
How about Abbey? They do free business banking - not sure about exchange rates though.
There would still be a charge just to handle a dollar check and this would be higher than that of their personal accounts.
I also use NatWest, each USD check I pay in costs me £10.50.
The service is quick - checks usually take a week to clear. I've used it with both a current and a first reserve account. Some bank clerks are a bit flustered, especially if they've not seen a foreign cheque before.
I've just tried Halifax to pay a USD check in as I want to close my NatWest accounts, I'll report back on my findings.
Incidentally, be very careful on whose checks you pay in - if it bounces it could end up costing you a lot of money!
I can confirm that I've just paid in 3 dollar cheques to Nat West - 1 fairly large and 2 small ones around a hundred dollars each - total commission for all three, £10.50
I don't know why other people seem to be paying £10.50 per cheque - I'd take it up with the bank if I were you.
I have a "current plus" account, if that makes a difference.
[edited by: Tiebreaker at 8:17 am (utc) on Mar. 6, 2008]
I've got my results back from both NatWest and Halifax. It appears there isn't a great deal of difference between the two.
Halifax charged me £10, but the exchange rate was marginally worse than the Natwest one. However, the Halifax credited my account straight away whereas the NatWest took a week before the money appeared in my account.
I'll be closing my NatWest current account shortly - Halifax pay me a decent rate of interest on my account and the online banking is far superior.