What Is a Cashier’s Check?

Learn what a cashier's check is, where you can get one and when you should use one.

Although a cashier’s check physically resembles a traditional check, it doesn’t come with as much risk as a personal check. A cashier’s check is guaranteed by a bank or financial institution rather than an individual who might or might not have enough money in their account to cover the transaction. That makes cashier’s checks a preferred payment method.

Cashier’s Check Definition

A cashier’s check, also called an official check, is written by a bank or credit union on its own funds and is signed by a representative or officer from that financial institution. A few key differences exist between a cashier’s check versus a money order. Money orders come with monetary limits whereas cashier’s checks do not. You can pick up a money order from a wide variety of places — including some stores that aren’t as reputable — whereas cashier’s checks are solely available at banks, credit unions and financial institutions.

Learn More: Cashier’s Check vs. Money Order — Here’s the Difference

Where Can You Get a Cashier’s Check?

The first place to visit when you need a cashier’s check is your bank. Most banks require you to have an account with them before they will issue a check. If you don’t currently have a bank account, you can still obtain a cashier’s check from another financial institution, such as a credit union. Be prepared to present proper identification, such as a driver’s license, passport or government-issued ID.

Should someone give you a cashier’s check, you’ll need to know the answer to “Where can I cash a cashier’s check?” Almost all financial institutions and banks will honor a cashier’s check, but the issuer of the check is the only one that is obligated to cash it.

Costs and Fees Associated With Cashier’s Checks

Every financial institution is different when it comes to costs and fees associated with obtaining and redeeming a cashier’s check. Some banks provide cashier’s checks free of charge to their customers whereas others tack on a fee of $8 or $10. You might also incur a fee if you need to put a stop payment on a cashier’s check that you already purchased. Call your local bank ahead of time to inquire about its fees so you have the money required on hand when you arrive.

Related: Choose the Right Bank Account for You

When Is It Best to Use a Cashier’s Check?

When you have to make a large monetary transaction or you plan to do business with someone you don’t know very well, a cashier’s check is the best way to go. You can use cashier’s checks to pay rent, complete a real estate transaction, or purchase a used car. Colleges and universities also accept cashier’s checks for tuition payments.

Although cashier’s checks are considered a safe form of payment, there are incidences of fraud that you should be aware of. First Federal Bank, for example, warns against fraudulent cashier’s checks that contain more than the purchase price of the item you are selling, letters requesting a cashier’s check in order to obtain an unexpected windfall, and checks that come in exchange for mystery shopping services.

Keep Reading: Every Type of Check Fraud You Have to Worry About