A cashier’s check is a type of check issued by a bank or credit union and signed by a cashier or teller. Because the funds are drawn directly against the issuing bank’s cash reserves — not a customer’s personal account — the checks cannot bounce. The cashier’s signature, or “endorsement,” on the checks represents this payment guarantee.
Also known as a bank check, teller’s check or an official check, these special payment instruments typically cost about $7 on average and are used to make large transactions, such as the sale of a house or car, safer for all parties. You may also receive a cashier’s check after closing a deposit account that still has money in it.
Although cashier’s checks cannot bounce, they are nonetheless vulnerable to other dangers such as theft or fraud. And it’s not easy to deal with either problem.
Below, we provide an overview of cashier’s checks, including: where and how to buy them, how to cash them, whether they’re safe and what to do if they’re lost, stolen or damaged. Read on to learn more.
Where & How To Get A Cashier’s Check
You can purchase a cashier’s check from most banks and credit unions. In most cases, however, you must do so in person and must have an account with the issuing bank. Some providers, especially large national banks, will cut the cashier’s checks to anyone for a fee, but you can expect to pay more if you don’t have an existing banking relationship with them.
With these guidelines in mind, the actual process of buying a cashier’s check is simple:
How To Get A Cashier’s Check:
Step 1: Establish Parameters & Bring ID – When you request a cashier’s check, the teller will ask for the following:
- Government-Issued ID (e.g., driver’s license or passport)
- Payee’s Name (must be entered on the spot)
- Check Amount (must be covered by cash or account balance)
Step 2: Get An Autograph – Upon verifying your ability to pay for the amount in question, either the teller or a bank officer will sign the check.
Step 3: Pay The Piper – You’ll need to pay the check’s full face value as well as any applicable fees up-front. The fee is between $3 and $10 or a percentage of the check amount. The table below lists which payment types are typically accepted.
|Payment Option||Acceptable As Payment?|
|Bank Account Withdrawal|
*Requires obtaining cash advance, which is very costly on its own
Can I Buy & Send A Cashier’s Check Online?
Only a few banks such as Wells Fargo (branch-based) and Ally Bank (online-only) allow customers to buy cashier’s checks online. But that just gets you mail delivery. You can neither send someone a cashier’s check electronically nor use it for spending online.
That’s because ACH and wire transfers are considered the equivalents of an electronic cashier’s check in terms of security. As far as online shopping is concerned, your best bet is to simply use a credit card. All credit cards provide $0 liability guarantees that ensure you won’t have to pay for any fraudulent transactions.
How To Cash A Cashier’s Check
You have 90 to 120 days from the date a cashier’s check is issued to cash it. When doing so, you’ll need to present a government-issued ID (e.g., driver’s license or passport) and possibly a second form of identification such as a credit card or utility bill.
Where To Cash A Cashier’s Check
The issuing bank is the only financial institution required to honor a cashier’s check, but other places may still allow you to cash it. That said, here are your options:
- If you have an account with the issuing bank: You should have no problem cashing the check.
- If you do not have an account with the issuing bank: The bank may still cash your check but charge you a heftier fee than it does to customers. Otherwise, you can try another bank, but be forewarned that many banks do not extend this service to non-customers in order to protect themselves against cashier’s check fraud.
- If no bank will accept your check: Your only alternative may be a check-cashing service, which charges comparable fees.
When Can I Spend The Funds From A Cashier’s Check I Deposited?
That depends on the check amount and deposit method. By law, the funds from a cashier’s check for $5,000 or less deposited in person at a bank branch will be available by the next business day. If your check is for a higher amount or was deposited using a different method (e.g., through an ATM), you can find the applicable rule on WalletHub’s Funds Availability guide.
Are Cashier’s Checks Safe?
Yes and no.
Cashier’s checks are often considered safer payment options than cash and personal checks because payment against them is always guaranteed — as long as they’re genuine. Once you’ve paid the face value of the check and the associated fee, if any, the bank will assume full responsibility for covering the check upon cashing. You only have to worry about the check bouncing if the issuing bank goes under, which is highly unlikely.
However, advanced printing technology has made it possible for fraudsters to forge cashier’s checks and even duplicate security features intended to guard them against illegal activity. As a result, a fake cashier’s check that you deposit can still clear. But you’re out the money plus the resulting bank charges if you spend the funds before your bank discovers the check is fraudulent, a process that can take weeks.
Check out WalletHub’s guide on cashier’s check fraud to learn how to protect yourself or what to do if you’re a victim of a cashier’s check scam. The next section covers the steps you’d need to take in the event your cashier’s check is damaged, destroyed, lost or stolen.
How To Deal With A Lost, Stolen Or Damaged Cashier’s Check
The physical nature of cashier’s checks makes them susceptible to damage, loss and theft. Unfortunately, you cannot simply “cancel” or request a stop payment on a bank-guaranteed item. The check can still be replaced or reissued if the situation warrants it, but the process can be painful. In this situation, you have two options:
- File A Claim: After 90 days of the date a cashier’s check was issued, you can file what’s called a “declaration of loss” with the issuing bank. Under Section 3-312 of the Uniform Commercial Code (UCC), which lays out the rules for lost, stolen or destroyed cashier’s checks, the bank must issue a replacement check once they process the declaration. If they do not honor this rule, seek an attorney if the amount of the check is large enough to make legal action worthwhile.
- Get An Indemnity Bond: Section 3-312 of the UCC eliminated the need for this option. However, each state can modify the rule and stipulate further requirements in order to reissue a lost, stolen or destroyed cashier’s check. In this case, the issuing bank may require you to obtain an indemnity bond for the same amount of the check before it will issue a replacement. The indemnity bond is a type of insurance intended to protect the bank in case you lose the replacement check. This option may be worth pursuing if the cashier’s check is for a small amount or if you cannot afford to hire an attorney to help you recover the check.
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