Customer service

Why Won’t the Banks Accept My Money!

It was the weirdest feeling. Walking around Manhattan with $8,000 in my purse and no place to put it. Did you know that banks don’t accept cash? No kidding. I know this to be a fact because I called my own bank and they turned me down.

I’m No Money Launderer

Here’s how I got myself into this mess. I had four very (very) old Series EE bonds and decided to redeem them to pay my taxes. I bank with a brokerage firm – you know, one stop banking except they don’t have branches like consumer banks.

So I walked around the corner to my friendly neighborhood bank (OK, a branch of one of the biggest banks in the world) figuring that having their credit card made me a customer. I told the teller that I wanted to redeem my bonds and get a couple of bank checks.

I showed him my credit card – issued by his bank – gave him the bonds, and waited for my checks. A few minutes later, he pushed $8,000 and change in cash through the window. No, I had said I needed bank checks. His response: “Sorry, we don’t issue checks unless you have an account with us.”

“Wait a second,” I said. “I told you I didn’t have a checking or savings account. Doesn’t my credit card with your bank name on it make me a customer?”

Not good enough.

So I asked the teller to give me my bonds back. Nope, already stamped with his bank’s ID.

So, out on the street, clutching my pocketbook, I call my financial advisor’s assistant and ask where I can find their nearest cashier because I need to deposit my $8 grand. “Oh, we’re not allowed to accept cash.”

Wait a minute. Aren’t you a bank? Don’t banks deal in money? What, do you think I’m some kind of money launderer? What ever happened to friendly customer service?

Uncle Sam to the Rescue

I’m wandering around plotting my next move when I remember you can buy money orders at the U.S. Post Office. I mean, when was the last time you went to the Post Office for a money order?

I get on the end of a long line. When I reach the clerk I take out my stash (why do I feel like a bank robber?) and meekly ask for two money orders. I guess the federal government is willing to accept the money they print. Only I learn that the largest denomination for a money order is $1,000.

That means getting multiple money orders while people are throwing daggers at me for holding up the line. I send off my taxes registered return receipt and leave with the balance in money orders made out to moi.

Of course, by now my bank’s cashier window is closed for the day.

Did I tell you that I also had to return a dozen 3-ring binders to Staples because they weren’t large enough for a project? Great, Staples is down the street from my bank so I’ll put the binders in my shopping cart and wheel them to the store on the way to make my deposit.

Screen Shot 2015-04-09 at 2.14.12 PMYou have to understand that most New Yorkers don’t have cars and a taxi would have cost me the price of the binders. I start walking and 20 minutes later I reach Staples – and the store where I bought them is closed! Like, closed for good.

The nearest store is another 20-minute walk. On the way, I deposit my money orders. Arriving at the Staples location, I discover it is not a full-service store. It’s a Staples Copy and Print service!

What have I done to deserve this? I walk in ready to duke it out if they won’t take back the binders. But not to worry. I talk to lovely young woman behind the counter and she’s more than happy to oblige. Thanks, Staples!

So what has this got to do with what I usually write about? Not much. I just wanted to vent, OK?!

PS – I just received a call from my financial advisor’s assistant. The bank’s policy is they can’t accept more than one money order a week!! Apparently, they don’t trust that the federal government’s money order is good.

Why can’t I get a bank to accept my money? Eeeeeeek!

Anything like this ever happen to you? Feel free to share below.

Leave a Reply


  1. No, never has happened to me, but you tell a good story! Did I tell you about the time our bank put an extra digit on a balance of a tiny business of a friend, so instead of -8,000 it said -80,000? Kind of messed them up for a few days of hassle and phone calls.

    • Leora — that’s a good story, too, except it doesn’t appear the mistake was in your friend’s favor.

  2. Unbelievable, but I believe every word! It’s also interesting that if a bank gives you a counterfeit bill and you unknowingly use it in a place that detects it as a counterfeit, it will be confiscated and you will lose the cash. . . even if it’s another bank. Further, in some states, you are at risk for being charged with a crime!

    • Rose — I didn’t know that about counterfeit bills! Yikes, I got lucky, I guess. All those bills and thankfully they were good old U.S. currency.

  3. Jeannette,
    I’m sorry that you had to go through that but you did make me laugh. The mental image of you walking the streets of Manhattan clutching your purse (and most likely frequently darting your eyes towards potential robbers) is priceless.

    Then, I can just imagine you standing in front of a closed Staples store only to end up at a location that’s not full-service. What a day! . . . and all this without a car. It’s no wonder New Yorkers are (for the most part), so fit (and tenacious).

    Thank goodness you had those old bonds and in the end, everything worked out. I wish I did have a story to share with you but anything that I can think of pales in comparison to your experience. Thanks for sharing.

    • Sherryl — It was a little scary. Of course, no one could know that I had that amount of cash in my purse. On the other hand, all those purse snatchers…!!!

  4. It’s ludicrous and lamentable that the whole world should adapt to the fact that a fraction of people are money launderers and/or terrorists. Another, actually worse, reason is that banks want to get rid of cash so that they can charge fees to all customers. Actually feel sorry for really old pensioners that can’t handle online banking and so forth. They pay a fortune in fees to their bannks.

    A Swedish company in the area got investment from a Middle Eastern company. Turned out to be an absolute nightmare to get banks to allow the transfer because it could, after all, be a terrorist who was sending the money.

    Can guarantee you that they don’t catch the terrorists and money launderers by the rules that have been implemented world wide. Those guys are one step ahead. The only thing the rules and regulations achieve is to inconvenience innocent people. And, not to forget, make it more difficult for innovative companies to get long term financing.

    • Catarina — In the U.S. it used to be the deposits above $10,000 would be flagged. In retrospect, I should have made a bigger scene at the first bank and demanded my bank checks. Just what did the teller think I was going to do with $8,000?! And you make a good point that it not only difficult for innovative companies to get financing, but if you are a small company just try getting a loan.

  5. Wow that is indeed a crazy story, but thanks so much for sharing it. I just learned my new bank account only allows me to do external transfers to my own accounts at other banks, while my former bank would allow external transfers to other’s accounts. Also, the new bank allows money to be sent via Popmoney, but not via Paypal. I didn’t want to deal another account. Then I was told I could add the person I needed to send money to under my bill pay service. I finally just decided to do a wire transfer to the tune of $30 for what should be easy to accomplish online. Wish I would have stuck with my old bank, but Bank of America no longer has branch offices in Idaho. So that’s my money story for the week 😉

    • Jeri — crazy but true. PPS – my bank finally made an exception and deposited all four money orders but gave my financial advisor’s assistant orders “Never to do it again!” Friendly customer service!

  6. Hi Jeannette, terrific story, I was walking with you the entire way. I do have one for you. Way back when I was young I worked for bank and our branch ran out of money so we called our Main Branch in another town to fix us up with $5,000.00. I grabbed my purse and a male (useless) assistant to carry the gun and protect me which was much scarier than anything else, but he was male in a time when males were still the superior beings. Anyway, I had grabbed another bag for the Main Branch to put the money in but wasn’t allowed to use it. I had to use their bag – printed with a dollar sign, true -. We had parked on the second story of a parking garage two blocks away. Talk about nervous (here’s where I totally identified with you). Here I am carrying an actual money bag being protected by a fellow who treated the gun as a toy – I made him walk in front of me – when fortunately for me (not so much for them) a hotel had caught fire only a few hundred feet away from the bank and there was a lovely police officer. I asked for his help and without asking if we were Bonnie and Clyde or where we got the money, he escorted us to our car and stopped all traffic as we exited the building. That was an experience never to be forgotten. I’m sure next year your banking experience will feel the same way. Anyway, glad things eventually turned out for you.

    • Lenie — great story and I would have been more afraid of your assistant with a gun than I would have been of potential robbers! How dumb was it of them to make you use a money bag. Like a big advertisement — come get me! Thanks for sharing.

  7. Nuts! Just plain nuts! Makes one wonder how long cash will be accepted anywhere. I’ve read plenty of stories where business people went to great lengths to deposit under $10,000.00 at a time to stay under the radar of the government, only to have their accounts frozen for doing just that. It takes months to resolve. Or how about those pot growers in Colorado who can’t find a bank anywhere to accept their cash so they keep huge vaults on site and pay for goods and services in cash only??? Nuts! But you sure had a bad day…glad it’s over finally!!!!

    • Jacquie — well, that’s just what happened to me. When I was the marketing manager for a New York bank many years ago, bank managers had great discretion in making exceptions to bank policy in the interests of building customer loyalty — nothing illegal, just being smart. Now technology has taken away any deviations from the norm. You can’t override the system — the system knows better! Yeah.

  8. I have known this for awhile. I read it somewhere and so I wasn’t surprised when I went into a branch of my bank and deposited about $150, that I was asked for ID. Now I even get asked for ID when I deposit money at my own branch. They are very nice but agree that it’s now the rule, so that they can make sure I’m not laundering money. They have to make a note that they checked my ID. Just in case my clone is trying to deposit laundered money into my account. (I made that last sentence up.)

    • Beth — it’s gotten to the point where it’s absurd. $150 now-days is the equivalent of $50 10 years ago. Asking for ID for that amount is too much.

  9. I do not want to sound callus, but I wished I had that problem. I feel bad because sometimes I go into my bank and withdraw all my money, which is sometimes less than 10 dollars.

  10. That is a very well told story and I was hanging on every word. I could feel the frustration and my apologies but because I know how frustrating that can be I kind of nervously chuckled. It is ludicrous that banks view cash as the ugly step-sister of money; seems to me it should be the other way round.

    • Thanks, Tim. Banks will accept third-party checks, no problem. Bring them real money and they don’t want it!

  11. Wow talk about a bad day! Living pretty much all of my life in rural areas I can’t say that I completely relate to your experience, but I suppose on some level these rules can be chalked up to a sign of the times. Doesn’t make it any easier to live with though.

  12. Wow. Just wow. This is the kind of experience that makes you want to show up at your local IRS office with $8,000 in pennies to pay your tax bill. What a day, but at least you got your exercise done for the day, walking to 2 Staples!

  13. Our systems are not quite as confusing as yours there across the ocean, but I feel you sista. Since the all the systems went online, it sometimes gets quite surreal getting even the bills paid. Sometimes I really miss the good old times!

  14. Hi Jeanette, that is crazy. I’ve never heard of a bank that won’t accept your cash?! And I can’t imagine walking around NYC with thousands of dollars in my purse. I’m sure the look on my face would be a dead giveaway that yes indeed, I have LOTS of cash, please rob me. What a terrifying feeling. We are going to have to go back to the days when people kept their money in their sock drawer, mattress or buried it in the backyard. Lol

  15. Oh, I feel sorry about whole situation. It was quite stressful.
    In Kashmir, the case is opposite. Banks call people to deposit money as much as possible.
    If they know, that anyone has got some money from any business etc. the bank will start calling you to put your money in the bank.

    Believe me, when we do not want to and forced and asked again and again, it is also stressful.

    Not sure, which way is better for people.

  16. I have not experienced this, but have had similar things happen. It’s just crazy these days. Glad you were able to vent here. I know there are times when I need to vent to a friendly sympathetic audience myself.

  17. Jeannette- Nothing surprises me anymore with the banks. I was told I can’t withdraw more than $2500.00 in cash a day no exceptions. I said but that is my money. Customer loyalty is gone. I have been banking at this bank for over 30 years. We have also had trouble cashing in bonds. It is like the banks have never seen or heard of them before. They change tellers like underwear. I feel your pain. The good thing is that you were not robbed or harmed physically.

    • Arleen — I also find it outrageous that you can’t withdraw your own money! And imagine that my bank won’t accept more than one money order — issued by the federal government — a week. What the heck is going on?