Making a large purchase, such as buying a car or putting a down payment on a house?
If so, you may be asked to use a cashier’s check to make your payment. A cashier’s check is a guaranteed way to pay for something and is often requested during large transactions to ensure that you actually have the money you need for your purchase.
But what actually is a cashier’s check? Why do you need it? And, if you need one, where can you get one?
In this article, I’ll explain exactly where to get a cashier's check and how to get a cashier’s check. I’ll give you options for where to get a cashier’s check and walk you through other options you can use to pay for your purchases if you don’t wish to use a cashier’s check.
What Is a Cashier’s Check?
A cashier’s check is considered a safe form of payment because it’s guaranteed by the bank. When you use a cashier’s check to pay for a purchase, the bank guarantees that that funds on the check are available to the seller. That way, the seller knows that your check will clear when he or she tries to deposit it and that there’s no chance of your check bouncing.
Cashier’s checks are usually required for major purchases, such as when you’re putting a down payment on a house or purchasing a car. Because there's a large sum of money involved, the seller wants to guarantee that they’ll receive the full amount. A cashier’s check helps ensure that they will.
You may also be required to use a cashier’s check for slightly smaller transactions, such as a security deposit on your apartment, or even occasionally your monthly rent payment, if required by your landlord. There’s a big difference between a cashier’s check and a personal check, and it can take awhile to get a cashier’s check, so make sure you check your lease or ask your landlord if you need a cashier’s check well before your monthly payment is due.
Where to Get a Cashier’s Check
You can’t write a cashier’s check on your own, so what are your options for where to get a cashier's check? You’ll need to go into a bank or a credit union.
To purchase a cashier’s check, you’ll need two pieces of information. First, you’ll need the exact amount of money you want to guarantee with the check. Second, you’ll need the exact name of the person or institution that’s receiving the check. Make sure you have the name correct - they won’t be able to deposit the cashier’s check if you have a different name on it.
If you’re a customer of the bank or credit union, you can get a cashier’s check using the funds that are available in your account. When the bank writes the cashier’s check, they’ll automatically debit the funds for the cashier’s check from your account, which assures the seller that you have the full amount.
If you want to purchase a cashier’s check from a bank or credit union where you aren't a customer, you’ll need to bring the full amount in cash. You’ll pay the bank the sum of money in cash and, in return, they’ll provide you with the cashier’s check.
For the most part you’ll need to go to the bank in person in order to purchase a cashier’s check, but a few banks, like Wells Fargo, allow you to order cashier’s checks online. However, you’ll need to wait for the check to be processed online and mailed, which can take up to 10 business days.
A cashier’s check must be deposited within 90 to 120 days after it’s issued, so make sure the recipient knows that they should deposit the check as soon as they get it.
Cashier’s Check Fees
In addition to wondering how to get a cashier’s check, customers are often concerned with finding the cheapest place to get a cashier’s check. Purchasing a cashier’s check from a bank will usually cost you a small fee, even if you have an account at the bank. Let’s take a look at the cashier’s check fees at the top 10 US banks.
|Cashier’s Check Fee For Basic Checking Account Holders
|Bank of America
Note that these fees are the fees that it costs customers who have a basic checking account at the bank in question to purchase a cashier’s check. If you’re going to a bank where you don’t have a basic checking account, you might pay more money to purchase a cashier’s check.
However, if you have a high-tiered checking account (such as one with a higher monthly deposit requirement or daily minimum balance), you might have a lower fee to purchase a cashier’s check from your bank, or you may not have to pay a fee at all.
Often, credit union will offer lower fees for cashier’s checks. If you’re concerned about cost, shop around to see the cheapest place to get a cashier’s check in your area.
How to Get a Cashier’s Check
In order to purchase a cashier’s check, you first need to go to your local bank or credit union branch. Follow these steps to make the process as painless as possible.
- Make sure that you’ve got the funds to cover the check before you go to the branch. Remember, your account will be immediately debited for those funds, or you’ll need to have enough cash on hand to cover the full amount.
- Make sure you’ve got the correct full name of the person or institution you’re paying.
- Make sure you’ve got your government-issued photo ID with you, such as a driver’s license or passport.
- If you’ve got an account at the institution you’re purchasing the cashier’s check from, make sure you have the required materials to access your account. You’ll most likely need to have your debit card and pin number, as well as a photo ID. If you don’t have a debit card, make sure you know your account number or social security number so the teller can look up your account.
- Wait in line at the branch location until it’s your turn to speak with a teller. Tell the teller that you’re interested in purchasing a cashier’s check.
- Provide the teller with your account number, or with the cash required to purchase the cashier’s check.
- Provide the teller with the name of the person or institution you’re paying.
- The teller will make sure that you’ve got enough money to cover the sum of the check. Then, the teller will draft the check and sign it, ensuring that it’s guaranteed by the bank.
Cashier’s Checks Vs. Personal Checks
Cashier’s checks are very different from personal checks, which is why they’re generally required for large purchases.
Purchasing a cashier’s check means that your account will automatically be debited for the amount to cover the check. This debiting guarantees you’ve got enough money to cover the cost of the cashier’s check. When you write a personal check, your account isn’t debited until the check is deposited, so the check may bounce if you’ve spent money and no longer have the funds to cover the personal check’s amount.
Because cashier’s checks are guaranteed, they often clear more quickly than personal checks. This means that the seller can have access to the funds for your purchase more quickly than waiting for a personal check to clear.
The physical features of both checks are different. A cashier’s check is signed by a bank representative, which is part of guaranteeing the funds for the check are available. Likewise, cashier’s checks have distinguishing security features, such as watermarks, and are often written on special bond paper.
Cashier’s Checks Vs. Money Orders
A money order is very similar to a cashier’s check. When you purchase a money order, you’re also guaranteeing that you’ve got the funds to pay for your purchase. However, there are some key differences between the two forms of payment.
A cashier’s check is issued by a bank or credit union. A money order isn’t. You can often purchase money orders at grocery stores, the post office, gas stations, or other places around town. Because you can purchase a money order from many different places, it may be more convenient to use a money order to guarantee your payment on a purchase.
Money orders, however, have a maximum limit of money that you can send at one time. That means that you’ll need to use a cashier’s check for larger purchases that require you to transfer greater sums of money.
Cashier’s Checks vs. ACH/Wire Transfers
ACH/wire transfers are very similar to cashier’s checks, with several key differences.
For both cashier’s checks and ACH/wire transfers, your account will be immediately debited when you initiate the transaction. This debiting guarantees that you’ve got the funds needed to cover the purchase.
There are fees associated with ACH/wire transfers, just the same as there are fees associated with cashier’s checks. The fees associated with ACH/wire transfers are often higher than the cashier’s check fees and can depend on how quickly you want the money to be sent.
When you make an ACH/wire transfer, you’re electronically transferring funds from your account to someone else’s. This means that you’ll automatically send funds to the seller, without them having to deposit a check.
You can request a same day ACH/wire transfer for an added fee, which means that the money will instantly appear in the seller’s account.
There are often limits for the amount of money you can send a person via wire or ACH transfer, depending on the type of transfer you’re doing, your bank’s policies, and how quickly you want to send the money.
Review: Where and How to Get a Cashier's Check
Cashier’s checks are considered a safe way to pay for large purchases because they’re guaranteed by a bank to have the funds to cover the sum of the check. You can get a cashier’s check from your local bank or credit union branch, which often requires paying a small fee.
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Hayley Milliman is a former teacher turned writer who blogs about education, history, and technology. When she was a teacher, Hayley's students regularly scored in the 99th percentile thanks to her passion for making topics digestible and accessible. In addition to her work for PrepScholar, Hayley is the author of Museum Hack's Guide to History's Fiercest Females.