Neil Turner's Blog

Blogging about technology and randomness since 2002

Foreign cheques

I’m posting this here for any non-US people who are considering adding Google AdSense to their sites.

Google sent me my first cheque last week. AdSense’s terms of service mean I’m not supposed to disclose how much I earned, but, suffice to say, I earned enough to warrant a payment. Google pays by cheque (or ‘check’ as they’re known over there), so to get the money that I’m now owed, I had to cash this into my bank account.

My account is with the Halifax, who on the whole have been good to me – relatively high rates of interest considering I only have a student current account, a very high interest savings account with easy transfer between the two online, and no major problems as yet. The increase in clearance time for cheques has been a little annoying – three working days, even if the cheque is from another Halifax account – but considering how some of my friends have been treated by their banks I’m generally pleased with them.

That said, they do charge extortionate rates for handling foreign cheques. While there is no fee for cheques under the Sterling value of £30, cheques above that and below £2500 incur a negotiation fee of £10 and a possible additional collection fee of £18. Google will only send you a cheque if you have earned $100 or more, so they will always be over £30. Say your cheque was for $100, which equates to just over £50 – your cheque will loose around 20% of its value. Obviously the costs as a percentage fall if the cheque is for a larger amount, but it’s annoying how quite a significant part of the money owed to you is taken by the bank.

There is also the clearance times. According to the information leaflet I was given, this is usually 3 days, which isn’t bad – some more basic bank accounts have 5-day clearing times even for domestic cheques. But in some cases it can take 28 days – a whole month – before the funds are available for withdrawal. Apparently I will be advised if this is the case, but considering the cheque is from a large, reputable US bank I imagine it’s unlikely.

If you are considering taking on advertising from a company in another country, I would advise you to check with your bank first and find out what their procedure is for dealing with payments in foreign currencies or from foreign banks. Most of what I have written today wasn’t a huge surprise for me as I’d checked prior to signing up for AdSense if this was possible, but it is a shame that it is so expensive. It’s not like the banks have any problem making money.


  1. All these charges add up and is why banks make so much profit!

  2. Now that sucks big time, but trust me, you’re not alone. I just had the same experience. I made a trackback in my newest post, but it doesn’t show up here. Weird.

  3. Now let’s see if there’s another way:
    pay into US bank account – free
    transfer to paypal – no charges if you don’t upgrade your account (doh!)
    Paypal across to UK – 2.5% conversion charge
    withdrawal fee – 25p (if

  4. That’s unreal! I cash mine for free in Bank of Ireland. I don’t have any charges because it’s a student account and even if I had charges it still wouldn’t take all that time to clear like yours!

  5. Tell me about it Neil – I’ve got two cheques from the big “G” which are hardly worth me banking (the bank account I use for Google’s cheques is Girobank: no charges, but a slightly larger commission – but they won’t touch cheques for under $40 as it’s not worth it). Lloyd’s charge a hefty amount IIRC (hence why I don’t use my own bank account for the cheques).
    I did look at getting a foreign currency account from a number of banks, but they are looking for either $10,000 deposit or a minimum of $1,500 per month inbound.
    I’d love it if Google would allow you to be paid into your Paypal account – I make purchases via Paypal in US$ so I may as well keep the money in US$ in there instead of paying “foreign currency” fees/charges left right and center.

  6. Oh – I forgot. I did check with a Google Adsense rep a few months ago and they said if you contact them at least 5 days before the end of the month they can “hold off” payment and roll the money onto the next month. The problem is, you’ve got to email them each and every month and they are really really fussy about which email address the request comes from.

  7. I was considering joining Adsense myself but I’m wondering what the situation is with regard to taxation. Do you have to declare all your earnings to the inland revenue, or only in the unlikely event that they go above the ~£4000 (or whatever it is) taxation threshold? How on earth do you declare your earnings anyway if you’re a student?
    The Adsense help page isn’t very helpful for this because they only seem to care about US taxpayers.

  8. Try the following currency exchange service on
    They will cash all $US cheques however small, with a small handling charge. I have used it many times and found them very efficient. The rate is not quite as good as the bank rate, but not bad. I get lots of dividend cheques so I send them batches, the charge (£1) is per batch not per cheque. They send you a UK cheque by return of post. They will also pay your UK account by direct debit if you want but they charge a setup fee for that.

  9. I’ve just received a cheque from Google and am wondering how to cash it. Auctionpix looks like a good service. Does anyone know how long it takes from them to cash the cheque?