Useful tips delivered to your inbox.
We will send you information only that's proven to be useful.
Buying a new house? Got your eyes on a sleek new yacht? When making big purchases, you want to ensure your hard-earned money is protected as it transfers hands.
One way of doing this is by using cashier’s checks. Issued by banks and credit unions, cashier’s checks provide certain protections to the payer and payee when making a large transaction.
Here we explain what it is exactly, how it differs from other payment methods, and how to get a cashier’s check to work for you.
Table of Contents
Normally, when paying with a personal check the money is deducted from your bank account and paid to the recipient directly.
A cashier’s check works a little differently – instead of the money being paid by your bank account, the recipient receives the money from the bank’s account. In essence, the bank is guaranteeing the payment of the funds. These types of checks are made in the name of the bank and are signed by tellers, sometimes two.
The funds for the payment is paid by you to the bank upfront, either from your existing account with them or with cash. It’s not a loan – rather the bank acts as a middle man for the payment between two parties.
The funds are also available almost immediately. In fact, it’s often available by the next business day – compared to a personal check, which might be subjected to a several-day hold by the bank if it involves a large amount.
If it’s lost or stolen, you can get it reissued by the bank. Although they might ask for an indemnity bond that makes you liable for the amount owed. The process to receive a new check can take anywhere between 30 to 90 days.
At face value, a personal check sounds like an easier option than a cashier’s check. But there are certain perks to using the latter.
For the person or business being paid, a cashier’s check guarantees the check won’t bounce due to insufficient funds in the payer’s account – especially when it comes to large amounts. This could include making a down payment for a house, the closing costs on a mortgage, or buying land, a car, or a boat. It’s also useful if you can’t use a debit or credit card for whatever reason.
A cashier’s check is not just a safety net for the person receiving the funds. It also offers certain protections to the one making the payment and the bank. These checks are difficult to counterfeit because it requires various signatures for it to be valid, protecting the bank. Plus the payer doesn’t have to share their personal checking account information with the payee.
A cashier’s check isn’t the only method of making large payments without using a personal check. Money Orders and certified checks are quite similar to a cashier’s check, but there are key differences to take note of before choosing the best option for your situation.
A Money Order is not a check. It’s a purchase document that can be made out for any amount and given to the payee. They will then have to take it to their bank and either deposit it into their account or cash it out. This tends to be cheaper than a cashier’s check, and they can be bought at supermarkets, the post office, and even certain gas stations outside of banks and credit unions. You also don’t need an account to buy a Money Order.
A certified check, on the other hand, is more similar to a personal check as the money is drawn directly from your account. However, both you and the bank will sign it. This means the bank guarantees you have enough money in your account to make the payment. If however your account gets overdrawn, you’ll just have to pay the relevant fees to the bank.
While a certified check is more secure than a Money Order and personal check, it’s less secure than a cashier’s check as they are easier to duplicate due to fewer watermarks and procedures that need to be followed.
There are three options available to you to get a cashier’s check. You could physically go to a bank branch or a credit union, or you can do it online or via telephone.
However, you can’t just walk up to a bank and demand they give you a cashier’s check. Each bank or credit union has certain conditions around who can use a cashier’s check. For example, many require that you at least have an account at the bank itself. If not, you’ll have to provide cash to cover the amount of the check and pay it upfront.
Once you’ve identified which financial institution you want to draw a cashier’s check from, the next step is to ensure you’ve got all the information of the payment in order. This includes the precise full name of the payee and the amount, and any notes regarding what the payment is for.
You will also need to show proof of identification to verify your identity.
After your information is all sorted, you can approach a teller with the details of the payment. If you’re an existing client of the bank or credit union, you’ll have to specify which account they need to draw the funds from. This money will then be frozen in your account until the check is cashed or deposited. If you don’t have an account, you’ll have to pay the bank first in cash.
You can only get a cashier’s check online or via telephone if you already have an existing account with the bank or credit union. You can log in to their website and order a cashier’s check from your account with all the required information mentioned before, which will then be delivered to the payee. This route is great if you and your payee aren’t geographically close to each other. Although it will take a lot longer than making a physical trip to a branch and hand-delivering the cashier’s check.
Regardless of which option you choose, remember to always get a receipt of your cashier’s check and keep it safe in case it gets lost or stolen.
This service provided by the bank or credit union isn’t free – there are normally fees involved in using a cashier’s check.
The fees at big banks might range between $2 and $15, but there’s no hard price point. The fee might also be waived if you happen to have a premium checking, savings, or money market account with your bank.
If the Cashier Check needs to be delivered, it might also accrue additional costs.
Now you know how to get a cashier’s check and the pros and cons of making use of one.
While many consider a cashier’s check a safe method of payment, it has been dogged by scams and fraud. These are normally picked up pretty quickly by the bank or credit union, so the best advice if you’ve been paid with a cashier’s check is to wait for it to be cleared by the bank before spending any of the money or releasing the goods.
The best protection remains knowledge, and understanding your financial services is key to ensuring your money remains safe.