COVID-19: Receiving the CERB or other benefits – How to get your cash fast and avoid paying high fees

Illustrated man holding money from his wallet

May 25, 2020

By Ruth Stephen, Director of Research, Policy and Education at the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, many Canadians are relying on the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) or other government benefits for support.

If you are receiving government benefits during these difficult times and have not yet signed up for direct deposit, I encourage you to do so either through the CERB application or online banking. With direct deposit, your benefits will automatically be deposited into your account, so you can easily and quickly access much-needed funds.

If you are receiving the CERB by cheque, your best option is to take the cheque to the bank. With ID, you can cash Government of Canada cheques for free at any bank in the country, even if you are not a customer. Banks will cash CERB or Canada Emergency Student Benefit cheques in the amount of up to $2,000, without holds.

As for payday loan companies and cheque-cashing services, only use them as a last resort. They charge high fees to cash cheques. For instance, to cash a $2,000 CERB cheque, a payday lender could charge about $63. With all the financial uncertainty right now, every dollar of savings and spending counts.

Before making any financial decisions, including how to receive and access your CERB and other government benefits, take steps to learn about your options. The Financial Consumer Agency of Canada provides lots of useful resources, including information and tips for managing your finances during challenging times

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