Bank teller and customer.

Cashier’s Check: What It Is, Plus How And Where To Get One

Sidney Richardson8-minute read
October 22, 2021

Have you ever gone to make a large payment and found you were required to pay with a cashier’s check? A cashier’s check is a little different from a personal check or a money order, and many people don’t even know about this method of transferring money, since it’s not that frequently used. If you’re confused as to how this form of payment works, what it costs and how to even get a cashier’s check, don’t worry – we’ll break down everything you need to know.

What Is A Cashier’s Check?

A cashier's check, also sometimes called an “official check,” is guaranteed and drawn against a bank or credit union's funds. These checks are generally intended for transactions of amounts over $1,000. The bank’s guarantee means that the check won’t bounce, which is why it’s favored by many as a method of payment for transactions involving larger amounts of money. When a customer gets a cashier’s check, they transfer their money to the bank and then the bank is responsible for paying the recipient of the customer’s funds.

Cashier’s checks exist to make personal transactions of larger sums safer for the payee. Since the funds are already paid to the bank by the party “writing” the check, cashier’s checks also clear much faster than personal bank checks. Once they’re signed by the bank teller and given to the recipient by the check “writer,” they typically clear within a day.

How Does A Cashier’s Check Work?

To get a cashier’s check, you first have to request it from your bank or credit union. You’ll have to tell your financial institution who the payee or recipient of the money will be, and then you may be charged a fee to actually get the check itself. Your bank will then verify if you have the funds in your savings or checking account to cover the amount you want to pay. You can also pay for a cashier’s check in cash, though this tends to be less common since these checks are typically used for larger sums.

If you have the funds, your money will be transferred directly to the bank. From there, your bank will print you a physical cashier’s check with the amount to be paid and the payee listed on it, as well as the bank’s account number rather than your own. Money is then drawn from the bank’s account when the payee cashes the check.

Where And How To Get A Cashier’s Check

If you want or need a cashier’s check to make a transaction, the process is pretty straightforward. Let’s go through the typical steps you should follow to get your hands on a cashier’s check.

1.     Gather Information 

When your bank makes a cashier’s check for you, the information on it is printed, not written – meaning it can’t be changed. Before you request a cashier’s check, you should make sure you know the name of the party you’re paying as well as the exact amount of money you’ll need to transfer to make sure the information that appears on the check is correct.

2.     Ensure There Is Enough Money

Once you’ve got the information figured out, make sure you have the funds (either in your account or cash) to cover the cost of a cashier’s check. Besides the amount of money you’ll be making the check out for, you will also have to pay a fee to your bank – typically $10 – $15.

3.     Go To A Bank Or Credit Union

Once you’ve got the funds and information prepared, you’ll have to head out to a bank or credit union to request a cashier’s check. Some banks might require that you have an account with them to get a cashier’s check, so you should call ahead of time and inquire if you are planning on visiting an unfamiliar bank or credit union to find out if they will work with you.

Some banks might also allow you to request a cashier’s check online, though this is less common. In most cases, you will have to come in person and provide your government-issued photo ID to prove your identity before the bank will print you a check.

4.     Review The Check

Before you leave with your cashier’s check, make sure the information that’s printed on it is correct. Once you’re sure everything is spelled correctly and the payment amount is correct, you’re good to go with your check. 

5.     Keep The Check Safe Until You Use It

If there is some time before you’ll be delivering the check to whomever you’ll be paying, you’ll want to make sure to keep your check in a secure location until you have to use it. If your check is lost or stolen, you might be able to cancel it or recoup the money, but this could also involve filling out a report for your bank and paying a fee for the loss.

6.     Deliver The Check In Person

Keeping the check safe means you’ll also want to deliver it in person. To reduce the risk of your check being lost or stolen, you should always try to deliver a cashier’s check face-to-face rather than through the mail or any other method that involves a third party.

How Much Does A Cashier's Check Cost?

A cashier’s check usually costs just the amount you are paying with it plus a small fee of $10 – $15. Some banks might waive this fee if you’re an account holder with them.

Example fees at a few banks:

  • Bank of America: $15 per check
  • Chase: $8 per check
  • Huntington Bank: $6 per check

When To Use A Cashier’s Check

Cashier’s checks are best used for large purchases where you might not be able to use other forms of payment such as personal checks, debit cards or credit cards. Making a down payment on a house or car, for example, might warrant the use of a cashier’s check.

Additionally, many landlords or property managers require that their incoming tenants make security deposits using cashier’s checks to assure they get the deposit and the check won’t bounce. In general, for large secure payments, cashier’s checks are a good idea.

How Long Is A Cashier’s Check Good For?

Technically, cashier’s checks don’t expire. Different banks, however, have their own limits on the amount of time these checks are valid. If you get a cashier’s check, be sure to ask your bank or credit union how long the check will be valid for or look for a disclaimer stating how many days must pass for the check to become void. Most banks typically rule that cashier’s checks are valid for 60-180 days if they impose an expiration date.

Cashier’s Check Vs. Certified Check Vs. Money Order

When making larger payments, there are a lot of different options that can get a little confusing. Let’s break down the key differences between cashier’s checks and two other similar methods of payment, certified checks and money orders.

Cashier’s checks, as you remember, are provided by your bank or credit union and are guaranteed and drawn against their funds rather than your own after you’ve completed a transfer. These are typically used for transactions over $1,000 and are printed by your bank.

Certified checks are personal checks that are certified by a bank, meaning the bank has proven you have the funds to back up the payment. Money is drawn from your account, not held by the bank, when you use a certified check. These checks will typically say “certified” on them and will be signed by your bank or financial institution.

Money orders also come from banks or credit unions but can also be purchased at third-party locations such as grocery stores and post offices. Money orders work similarly to cashier’s checks in that you essentially “purchase” them and pay for them when you get the order so that the check won’t bounce later, and the payment is assured. Unlike cashier’s checks, however, money orders can typically only be taken out in amounts up to $1000.

Cashier’s Check Scams Fraud

Though they are one of the safest and most secure ways to exchange money, cashier’s checks are not immune to fraud. If you’re receiving a cashier’s check, it’s important to verify the legitimacy of the check to assure you aren’t being scammed. Scammers may attempt to use false cashier’s checks in order to purchase items or return them in order to be “reimbursed” before the check actually clears.

How To Tell If A Cashier’s Check Is Real Or Fake

Cashier’s checks should always be printed and never handwritten. They should also always include a phone number to their bank or credit union of origin. If you’re unsure that a cashier’s check is legitimate, you should call the number on it to attempt to confirm. Some fake checks may also include fake phone numbers, so it’s important to reference the actual number of the supposed financial institution online when calling just to be safe.

How To Avoid Cashier’s Check Scams

To avoid cashier’s check fraud, never accept a cashier’s check from someone that you don’t know. If someone insists on paying you with a cashier’s check or wants to be reimbursed immediately after paying you, ask to wait until the check clears – a true cashier’s check should clear in a day or less, so this typically won’t be a problem.

You should also always look up any and all contact information listed on a cashier’s check to make sure it’s genuine. False contact information and small mistakes such as spelling errors are common giveaways of a false or fraudulent check, so it’s important to examine any check you receive carefully. These checks are always printed as well, as you may recall, so if you receive a handwritten cashier’s check you should never accept it.

The Pros And Cons Of Using Cashier’s Checks

Cashier’s checks can be a very safe, fast and reliable way to exchange money – but there are some potential downsides to paying this way as well. Let’s go over a few pros and cons.

Pros

  • Lower risk of the check bouncing: Since cashier’s checks are guaranteed by the bank, it’s very unlikely that your check will bounce since you paid for it in advance.
  • Secure payment: Since cashier’s checks are printed by the bank with the intent of being cashed only by the listed payee, they are a more secure form of payment than other checks and methods of transferring funds.
  • Clears quickly: The funds paid with a cashier’s check are often cleared and available very quickly since these checks are guaranteed by banks and credit unions.

Cons

  • Fraud: While cashier’s checks are difficult to fake, this method of payment is still susceptible to fraud – meaning you have to be careful and cautious that any cashier’s check you receive is legitimate.
  • May have fees: While typically inexpensive, there are usually fees involved if you want to pay someone with a cashier’s check. Additionally, if the check is stolen or lost there are fees to be paid there as well.
  • Can be inconvenient: Unlike writing a personal check, there’s a process involved when paying with a cashier’s check that can be a little time consuming. You can’t just pull out your checkbook and write a cashier’s check; obtaining one usually requires an in-person trip to your local bank.

The Bottom Line

Cashier’s checks may be a little more complicated to get your hands on than personal checks, but they can be very useful as a secure and fast method of paying for a large transaction like a down payment or security deposit. Though they are considered one of the most secure ways to pay, you should still always double check the legitimacy of any cashier’s check you might receive to avoid falling victim to fraud.

For more information on secure ways to pay, read our guide to money orders.

Sidney Richardson

Sidney Richardson is a professional writer for Rocket Companies in Detroit, Michigan who specializes in real estate, homeownership and personal finance content. She holds a bachelor's degree in journalism with a minor in advertising from Oakland University.