What Is a Cashier’s Check? Definition, Cost, Use and How to Buy One - NerdWallet (2024)

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What is a cashier's check?

A cashier’s check is a check drawn from the bank’s own funds, not yours, and signed by a cashier or teller. Unlike a regular check, the bank, not the check writer, guarantees payment of a cashier’s check. A cashier's check can also be called an official check.

When do I need a cashier's check?

Cashier’s checks are good for large purchases, such as a car or house sale, when you likely can't use a debit or credit card, and using cash is risky. These checks have extra security features — such as watermarks and sometimes signatures by two bank employees — that make counterfeiting more difficult. So when you purchase one from a bank or credit union, all parties can be confident that the transaction is secure and the risk of theft or fraud is minimal.

» How to decide between a cashier's check and a money order

Where can I get a cashier’s check?

Most banks and credit unions offer cashier's checks to their customers, sometimes for a fee. See below for how non-customers can get a cashier's check.

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How can I get a cashier’s check?

Most banks and credit unions offer cashier's checks to their customers, though some might also offer this service to non-customers. Here's how to get a cashier's check:

  1. Have the exact amount, the recipient's name and personal identification ready. Cashier's checks are drawn on a financial institution's funds, but you supply the check amount (in the form of cash or as a withdrawal from your account) to your bank ahead of time. You’ll also need the name of the "payee," the business or person you are paying, since you can't get a blank cashier's check. You should have your ID ready, too; the teller will probably ask to see it.

  2. Visit a nearby branch and request the check from a teller. Some banks, especially online-focused ones, might also allow you to order a cashier's check online or by phone. In those cases, a cashier's check would then be mailed to your recipient, which takes longer. If you need the check that day, visit a branch if your bank has one, or find a bank or credit union that accepts non-customers.

  3. Pay the check amount plus any applicable fee. If the funds are in an account at that institution, the full amount of the check will be frozen in your account or withdrawn when the check is issued. Make sure you have enough in the account to pay any fee as well. If the bank gives checks to non-customers, you’ll typically pay in cash. The teller will issue and sign the cashier's check.

  4. Get a receipt. Ask for a receipt as proof of payment. You might be able to use this to track the check to know if it’s been cashed or in case you lose it.

If you don't have a checking account at a bank or credit union, you might need to open one. Banks and credit unions are the only institutions that can issue cashier's checks, and many don’t provide them to non-customers. Call a bank or credit union branch near you to inquire if you can get a cashier’s check as a non-customer. If opening a bank account isn't practical, a money order might be your next-best option.

» In the market for a bank? See the best checking accounts

How much does a cashier’s check cost?

Many banks and credit unions offer cashier's checks though some differ on terminology, calling them “official checks.” Ask your financial institution for availability and pricing. Some financial institutions offer reduced fees or no fees for certain account holders. Many sell them only to account holders.

Here's a list of cashier's check fees at popular banks.

Bank

Cashier's check cost

Fee waiver?

Ally Bank

4.5

NerdWallet rating

Free.

N/A.

Bank of America

3.0

NerdWallet rating

$15.

Preferred Rewards customers.

Capital One 360

4.5

NerdWallet rating

$20 online with overnight shipping; $10 in branch.

None.

Chase Bank

3.5

NerdWallet rating

$10.

Secure, Premier Plus℠, Sapphire℠ and Private Client Checking customers.

Discover® Bank

4.5

NerdWallet rating

Free.

N/A.

Navy Federal Credit Union

4.5

NerdWallet rating

Two free per account per day, $5 for each additional check.

None.

Pentagon Federal Credit Union

4.0

NerdWallet rating

Free.

N/A.

PNC Bank

4.0

NerdWallet rating

$10.

Performance Checking (reduced $5 fee), Performance Select Checking and Foundation Checking customers.

Santander Bank

3.0

NerdWallet rating

$10.

Select Checking or Select Money Market Savings customers.

TD Bank

3.5

NerdWallet rating

$8.

Beyond Checking, Signature Savings, Private Tiered Checking, Private Tiered Savings and 60-Plus Checking account holders.*

U.S. Bank

3.5

NerdWallet rating

$10.

Smart Rewards Premium, Pinnacle and military customers.

Wells Fargo

4.0

NerdWallet rating

$10 in person; $18 for online orders.

Prime and Premier checking account holders.

*TD Bank is only available on the East Coast: CT, DC, DE, FL, MD, ME, MA, NC, NH, NJ, NY, PA, RI, SC, VT, VA.

What if I lose the cashier's check?

Canceling a cashier's check is generally not an option. If you lose a cashier’s check, the bank may require that you get an indemnity bond before issuing another one. (Here's more information about indemnity bonds and what to do if you lose a cashier's check.)

The bond, which is not that easy to get, makes you liable for the replacement check, according to the U.S. Office of the Comptroller of the Currency. The OCC recommends contacting an insurance broker for help.

Even with the bond, the bank may require that you wait more than a month for a replacement check.

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Cashier’s check vs. certified check vs. money order

A cashier’s check is drawn from the bank’s own funds, not yours, whereas a certified check is a personal check written by you and drawn on your account. The bank certifies that the signature is genuine and that you had sufficient funds to cover the check when it was issued. (Here are tips on when you should use a certified check.)

Money orders are a prepaid payment. They are often restricted by a maximum amount. For example, the U.S. Postal Service has a $1,000 limit on money order purchases. Unlike cashier’s checks, money orders aren’t backed by a bank since they are paid in advance, usually with cash or a debit card. (Here's when it makes sense to use a money order.)

How can I avoid cashier's check fraud?

Avoid taking a cashier’s check from someone you don’t know. If you do receive one, wait to use the funds until several days after the check has been deposited, or ask your bank to make sure it has cleared. Many banks place a hold on amounts over $5,525 until the check has been cleared by the issuing bank.

» Learn more about how to avoid cashier's check fraud

Recap: How to get a cashier's check

Here’s a quick rundown of steps to get a cashier’s check:

  1. Have the exact amount and recipient's name ready before requesting the check, as well as personal identification.

  2. Visit a nearby branch and request the check from a teller.

  3. Pay the check amount plus any applicable fee.

  4. Get a receipt.

What Is a Cashier’s Check? Definition, Cost, Use and How to Buy One - NerdWallet (2024)

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