What Is a Cashier's Check and How Can I Get One?

Use a cashier’s check from a bank or credit union to make a large payment safely

A cashier’s check is drawn against the bank’s account rather than yours, which makes the bank responsible for paying the check. You provide funds to the bank to cover the check from your account.

A cashier’s check offers several benefits and protections you may not enjoy with personal checks or cash payments. Here’s what you need to know about using cashier’s checks, how to get one, and what to use in its place if you need another option.

Key Takeaways

  • A cashier’s check is drawn from a bank’s or credit union’s funds and signed by a cashier or teller, which means that the bank guarantees payment of the check.
  • A cashier’s check provides protection that a personal check does not. So it's useful for making a large payment—for a land purchase, for example, or a down payment on a home.
  • You can get a cashier’s check by visiting your bank branch or credit union or going to its website if it offers these checks online.
  • If you don’t want to use a cashier’s check, other options include a money order, certified check, wire transfer, or social payment app.

When Do I Need a Cashier's Check?

A cashier’s check is typically associated with a large payment when the payee—the person receiving the funds—wants reassurance that the check won’t bounce. For example, you might use a cashier’s check to:

  • Make a down payment on a home
  • Pay closing costs for a mortgage
  • Buy a car or boat
  • Purchase a piece of land

In other words, it’s not generally used for everyday spending.

A cashier’s check provides a measure of security to everyone involved in the transaction. The payee knows the check won’t be returned since it’s being drawn from the bank’s account. Because cashier’s checks usually have watermarks and require signatures from one or more bank employees, the bank has the reassurance that the check won’t be counterfeited. And you don’t have to worry about sharing your personal checking account information with the payee, as the check isn’t drawn from your account.

Another advantage to the payee of using a cashier’s check: The funds are usually available by the next business day after the check was deposited. In contrast, with a large personal check, the bank might place a hold of several days to allow the check time to clear.

A cashier’s check is written in the bank’s name rather than yours and signed by a teller, which means that the bank guarantees its payment.

When to Use a Cashier's Check

Investopedia / Julie Bang

How and Where Do I Get a Cashier’s Check?

Three places to get a cashier’s check include a bank branch, a credit union, and online. Note that getting a cashier’s check online may take longer than obtaining one in person. Then, follow these steps to get a cashier's check.

Review Requirements

Check the issuer’s requirements for providing a cashier’s check, including any limits. Banks may have cashier check limits, such as $250,000 per check or $500,000 daily.

Many banks and credit unions only issue cashier’s checks to customers. If the institution offers a cashier’s check to non-account holders, you’ll need to come with cash in hand to cover the check’s amount.

Gather Your Information

You’ll need the exact name of the payee—the business or person you are paying—and the precise amount of the check. You’ll also need a picture ID to verify your identity and any notes you want to include on the check regarding the payment.

See a Teller or Order the Check Online

A teller can supply you with a cashier’s check. Again, just be ready to show your ID and provide the payee's name and the check amount. If you’re a current bank or credit union customer, you’ll need to specify to the teller the account from which the funds for the check should be drawn. (Be sure you have adequate funds to cover the check.) If you’re not a customer, you must pay the check amount in cash.

Your bank or credit union may also offer cashier’s checks online. If so, you log in to the website and select the account you’d like to use for the check. Depending on the institution’s menu navigation, ordering a cashier’s check online may be included under the “Order Checks” tab. Follow the menu prompts to add the payee’s name, address, amount, and any notes you want to include.

The check may be routed to a bank/credit union branch where you can pick it up or mailed to the address on your account, which will likely take longer than if you get it in person and deliver it yourself.

Get a Receipt

Get a paper or digital receipt for a cashier’s check to verify proof of payment. You may need it if the check is lost or stolen.

Take the Cashier's Check to the Recipient

Because of the numerous hassles of losing the cashier's check, take the paper check directly to the recipient if possible. Encourage the recipient to cash the check immediately, as cashier's checks may expire earlier than personal checks depending on the institution or local laws. For example, while a personal check may be valid for up to 6 months, a cashier's check could expire after 60 days.

How Much Does a Cashier's Check Cost?

Most banks and credit unions charge a fee for cashier’s checks. The fees at some of the largest banks range from $6 to $15, although your bank may charge more or less than that. You may get a free cashier’s check if you have a premium checking, savings, or money market account at the bank.

If you order a cashier's check online, the order could include expedited delivery and could run up to $20.

Alternatives to a Cashier’s Check

If you don’t want to write a personal check—and a payee won’t accept a cashier’s check—there are other options for making a payment to another party, including:

  • Money orders: The less-expensive money order is a secure form of payment for a specific dollar amount and can be purchased at the post office, supermarkets, and some gas stations. But money orders are for smaller amounts than cashier's checks.
  • Certified check: A certified check is like a cashier’s check in that the bank guarantees the check amount, but a certified check is drawn directly against your account and is less secure than a cashier’s check.
  • Wire transfer: With a wire transfer, money is sent electronically—directly from your account to someone else’s—with no check required, but it can be more expensive than cashier’s checks, certified checks, or money orders.
  • Social payment apps: P2P (peer-to-peer) apps may help you send money to friends or family using just someone’s email address or phone number and drawing from your bank account, debit card, credit card, or your app balance.

Some apps limit how much you can send in a single transaction and per day. If you have a large amount to send, you may be better off using a cashier’s check or one of the other options mentioned above.

What if a cashier’s check is lost or stolen?

If you purchase a cashier’s check and lose it or it’s stolen, you can ask the bank to reissue the check. The caveat is that the bank may ask for an indemnity bond first. This bond isn’t easy to obtain and makes you liable if the lost check is found and presented for payment. It’s also not an instant process. Depending on the bank, you may have to wait 30 to 90 days to receive a replacement cashier’s check.

Can I Put a Stop Payment Order on a Cashier's Check?

While you can easily put a stop payment order—or a formal cancellation request—on a personal check, you cannot do so with a cashier's check. This is because the check draws on the bank's funds, not your account, and must be honored.

Can I use a cashier’s check online?

Some banks allow cashier’s checks below a certain amount to be deposited using their mobile banking app. Other banks require that cashier’s checks be presented physically. Unlike an electronic check, or e-check, you generally cannot spend a cashier’s check online to make purchases.

The Bottom Line

Cashier’s checks are often the payment of choice when buying a home or a car. Understanding how they work and where you can get one can help you decide if it’s the right way to pay. When you’re on the receiving end of a cashier’s check, take care to avoid fraud. Only accept a cashier’s check from someone you know, if possible, and give the check time to clear after depositing it into your bank account before using the funds.

Article Sources
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  13. Helpwithmybank.gov. "Can I Put a Stop Payment Order on a Cashier's Check?"

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