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What is a Cashier’s Check?

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There are times in your life when you’ll be buying something and the seller is going to want a form of certified payment, in part because they don’t trust you (or don’t want to have to trust you). If you’re buying a car, sometimes the dealership will let you pay with a credit card, but oftentimes they’ll require a downpayment using a cashier’s check or other form of secure payment.

Fortunately, cashier’s checks aren’t hard to get, they just come with a small fee.

What is a Cashier’s Check?

A cashier’s check is one that is issued by a bank and drawn from the bank’s own account, not your account. The idea behind a cashier’s check, also called a bank check (among other names), is that it’s a form of guaranteed payment. If you give me a cashier’s check, I know that the check won’t bounce. I know the funds are there because it’s drawn against the bank, not against your personal account. With a personal check, I don’t have those assurances. Anyone can write a check and it’s difficult to verify the funds for a personal check, since banks don’t give out personal details on a regular basis.

If you’ve ever seen a cashier’s check, they look really fancy because they have far more security features than a personal check. There will usually be watermarks, color-shifting inks, and other features usually associated with currency. The idea is that since it’s supposed to be secure payment, banks don’t want scammers ripping off their checks.

From a legal perspective, a cashier’s check is considered a note of the bank and amounts under $5,000 are not subject to deposit holds. So if you get a check and deposit it, there will not be a hold on the funds (as there would be on any other check) on amounts under $5,000. That’s another benefit you can add to the list, on top of guaranteed funds.

How Do You Get a Cashier’s Check?

What if you need a cashier’s check, how do you go about getting one? The easiest way is to visit your bank. When you go to the bank, ask to speak with a teller and tell them you want a cashier’s check. The bank will charge you a fee, it varies but it will probably be $5-$10, and deduct the funds from your account with them. Alternatively, you can bring in cash and have them write a cashier’s check based on the sum you bring in.

Consider Money Orders

$5-$10 can be pricey, especially if you only need a small sum on the check. If you need a check for under $1,000, consider going to the post office and getting a postal money order. A postal money order costs $1.15 for amounts up to $500 and $1.55 for a money order between $500.01 and $1,000. They don’t issue money orders of greater than $1,000. You will need to either bring the cash to pay for it or come with a debit card or traveler’s check. It’s much cheaper than a cashier’s check but you’re limited to a thousand dollars. Also, by law, money orders are not considered guaranteed funds.

I haven’t needed a cashier’s check in a while but I’m glad they’re easy to get.

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12 Responses to “What is a Cashier’s Check?”

  1. PK says:

    A further point to the money orders. NO money order (bank, postal, moneygram, western union) can be issued for more than $1000, if you ever get one it’s fake. Also be wary of money orders, since they aren’t guaranteed they can have a stop put on them after only a day.

    Cashier’s checks can also have stops put on them but it’s a lengthy amount of time from the issue date before you can do that.

    As far as hold times, no check can be processed in less than a day unless it’s drawn on the bank that you’re trying to do your transaction at.

    Lastly, if your bank is charging a fee for a cashier’s check over $1000, find a new bank.

  2. Frugal says:

    While money orders cannot be issued for more than $1000, you can get always get more than one money order for your needs. So if you need to pay $2500, you can get three money orders totalling $2500 and be done with.

    About banks charging a fee, it is a norm.

  3. Shorebreak says:

    I wrote a personal check from a local bank for a large sum to be deposited in my local credit union account. In hindsight I should have used a “cashier’s check” instead of my personal check. The funds are on hold for a week now as a result.

  4. Chicagolakeview says:

    As a GOLD member of Citibank, I can get free casher’s checks. I used them to pay my taxes twice a year to another bank/Chase. They are the best way to pay one’s taxes as their is a receipt for it and the screwed up corrupt city of Chicago CANNOT accuse me of not paying those taxes.

    • Ray says:

      From my understanding, CitiGold requires $50,000 in deposits or a $30 monthly surcharge, your stuck with Citi’s awful interest rates vs. the generally better local Credit Union or online bank options, so I wouldn’t say its entirely free.

  5. Shirley says:

    Our local CU offers free cashier’s checks.


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