The History of Check Cashing in Illinois
For over 80 years, the currency exchange industry in Illinois has provided check cashing services as well as numerous other financial products to citizens in communities across the state.
When check cashing facilities were first authorized by the Illinois Legislature, the majority of them were located in the City of Chicago. Many community neighborhoods did not have access to banks and other financial institutions where residents could cash their payroll checks and obtain money orders to pay their bills.
Located in the business section of neighborhoods, currency exchanges were easily recognized by their bright neon signage. Many were housed in corner locations at busy intersections. They were known for being customer friendly and many individuals have used the same currency exchange for decades.
Chicago was an industrial city full of manufacturing companies, meat processors, and canning companies. Workers would get paid weekly by receiving a check at the company where they worked. At that time there was no such thing as direct deposit. A check representing the worker’s wages was placed in their hand.
Individuals who had an account at a bank or credit union could cash their check at one of those institutions and deposit funds into their savings or checking account while taking a portion in cash to cover other expenses. Those who had no such a relationship could go to a currency exchange, cash their check for a fee, and purchase money orders to pay rent, utilities, a mortgage, or a car payment.
Classified by law as a financial institution, currency exchanges are licensed, regulated, and examined every year by the Division of Financial Institutions of the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR). The rates charged for check cashing and money orders are set by the IDFPR. Rates for other services are set by either the Secretary of State, City of Chicago, or state or local law.
At its peak, there were over 750 currency exchanges in the State of Illinois. Today there are approximately 350. The decline is attributed to shifts in population and the consolidation of locations. Currency exchanges however remain a viable service in Chicago as well as numerous suburban communities and downstate Illinois.
Today, currency exchanges provide not only offer check cashing and money order services but also license plates, title transfers, municipal vehicle stickers, copies, notary public, postage stamps, document faxing, birth and death certificates, and acceptance of utility payments. Some locations also allow for machine purchase of bitcoin and other products.
Since the beginning, customer service has always been the number one objective of the currency exchange industry and to this day they remain committed to the people they serve.
We take community and the neighborhoods of Illinois that we have serviced for the past 85 years so seriously that we put “community” in our name! Find a currency exchange near you and “get stuff done”, today!
With over 350 locations, many open nights, weekends, and holidays (and several stores with 24/7 availability), you can rest easy knowing your financial needs can be taken care of when you need them most. We’re in the heart of every community. Don’t believe us? See for yourself.