Despite high fees, check cashers seen as part of community, customers say
From behind the Plexiglas window at the back of his Brooklyn Park shop, Charlie Ward spotted one of his regular customers ambling toward him.
"He's heerrre!" exclaimed Ward, arms out to 80-year-old Roy Wasmus, who has been coming to the Brooklyn Park check casher for close to 30 years, first to cash his paychecks from General Motors and now for $40 money orders.
More than a quarter of Baltimore residents don't have bank accounts or, like Wasmus, don't use them exclusively. Instead, they manage their finances through check cashers like Charlie Ward's and with other so-called alternative financial services such as prepaid cards.
Check cashers — distinct from payday lenders — typically also allow customers to pay bills, get money orders and wire money, which makes them particularly popular in immigrant areas.