Personal Finance 

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.

{ 13 comments, please add your thoughts now! }

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13 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.

    • Jim says:

      That may not have been the most cost effective approach, you could have requested cash and transported it yourself… might not be entirely feasible depending on how large that sum was.

  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.

  6. Jacqui says:

    I need to get 4 money orders/cashiers checks for $1000.00 each. I have a citicard. Will I have to pay a fee for either money order/cashiers check?

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