What Is a Cashier’s Check?

Checkbook Flat Design Finance Icon with Side Shadow.

A cashier’s check works like a personal check. With a cashier’s check, however, the bank itself guarantees and issues the funds after verifying that the account the check is drawn on has money to cover it. The bank then transfers that money from your account into its own.

After drawing the funds, the cashier, or teller, signs the check. You pay for the cashier’s check with money from your bank account, but because the bank guarantees payment, these checks will not bounce.

Benefits of Using a Cashier’s Check

Cashier’s checks have an advantage over personal checks — the funds might be made available on the next business day. However, banks can place a hold on cashier’s checks in certain situations, according to HelpWithMyBank.gov:

  • If the check is in excess of $5,000
  • If the bank deems the check uncollectible from the paying bank
  • If the check is made out to a new account
  • If the check is made out to an account with a history of overdraft fees

Cashier’s checks also have special security features, such as watermarks and two required signatures, and are therefore considered more secure for high-value transactions.

Because banks provide the funds for a cashier’s check, the checks are considered guaranteed payments. This makes them valuable tools for paying for large purchases, such as real estate.

Here are some instances where you should consider using a cashier’s check:

  • Making a down payment on a house
  • Making a deposit for renting an apartment
  • Buying a car or a boat
  • Buying land
  • Purchasing items costing $5,000 or more

Good To Know

Cashier’s checks are especially useful when you need to transfer money quickly. In the event that your rent is overdue, for example, a cashier’s check can mitigate the consequences of the late payment because your landlord doesn’t have to wait as long for the check to clear or worry about it bouncing.

Where Can You Get a Cashier’s Check?

Cashier's Check

You can purchase a cashier’s check at a bank or a credit union, in person or online. When you get a cashier’s check online, you may need to wait for it. There are fees associated with getting a cashier’s check, so you might want to call ahead.

Usually, the best place to get a cashier’s check is at your own bank.

What Is the Maximum Amount for a Cashier’s Check?

While most companies won’t issue a money order for more than $1,000, the amount for which a cashier’s check can be written is technically unlimited. Because you’re paying for a cashier’s check in advance, you can get a cashier’s check for any amount that you can pay for.

How Much Does a Cashier’s Check Cost?

Here’s a breakdown of cashier’s check fees for some of the most popular banks:

Cashier’s Check Fees
Bank Fee
Bank of America $15
Chase $8
U.S. Bank $10
Wells Fargo $10
    Fees are accurate as of Aug. 18, 2020.

Some banks will waive or reduce their cashier’s check fees for existing customers who meet certain requirements.

How To Get a Cashier’s Check

Getting a cashier’s check is a straightforward process. Simply follow these steps:

Steps To Get a Cashier’s Check

  1. Make sure you have the necessary funds.
    • When purchasing a cashier’s check from a bank where you have no account, make sure you have the funds in cash. Call before you go to make sure non-account holders can purchase cashier’s checks.
  2. Pay the cashier’s check fee. This fee varies from bank to bank.
  3. You will also need to provide the teller the following:
    • A form of personal ID
    • The name of the check’s recipient
    • The check amount
    • Any notes you’d like to add regarding the transaction
  4. Pay for the check either in cash or via a withdrawal from your bank account.
  5. Get your receipt and keep it for your records.

Keep in mind that you don’t get a copy of the check itself, so a receipt is crucial for providing both proof of purchase and information that can help you replace a lost check.

Can a Cashier’s Check Be Canceled?

To cancel a cashier’s check, you’ll need to fill out a form with the bank you received it from. It can take up to 90 days to cancel a cashier’s check, because the bank needs to ensure that the funds haven’t been used. Treat a cashier’s check like it’s cash.

Is a Cashier’s Check Safe?

Cashier’s checks are generally considered safe because of the bank’s own guarantee of funding and verification. But using a cashier’s check can be a lot like having physical cash: Someone can walk in with one and deposit it.

You do need to watch out for cashier’s check scams such as foreign lotteries, check overpayments and online auction ploys. There are also ways to verify a cashier’s check to tell whether it’s legitimate or not.

The Federal Trade Commission offers the following advice on how to avoid scams:

  • Avoid anything that tells you to pay for a prize.
  • Never wire money to strangers.
  • If you are selling something, only accept the correct purchase amount, nothing higher.
  • Request that the cashier’s check come from a local bank.

You can report suspected scams through the FTC, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service or your local government consumer protection services. If you experience a scam, you should try to cancel the cashier’s check as quickly as possible. Be aware that it may not be possible to recover the funds.

What Happens If I Lose a Cashier’s Check?

Banks require that you get an indemnity bond if you lose a cashier’s check, according to HelpWithMyBank.gov. So, if you lost a cashier’s check, you should:

  • Notify the bank or credit union of the lost cashier’s check.
  • Purchase an indemnity bond.  The bond states you’ll be financially responsible for the second check. This is usually done through an insurance broker and can be an arduous process.
  • Fill out a declaration of loss statement. This statement certifies that you lost the initial cashier’s check.

You can also wait until the initial cashier’s check has expired and follow up with your bank or credit union.

How Long Is a Cashier’s Check Good For?

There’s no hard, fast rule about when a cashier’s check expires. Most personal checks last six months, but cashier’s checks expire after 60, 90 or 180 days, depending on whom you ask. “Cashier’s checks are backed by the issuing bank and, theoretically, should be valid for as long as the bank is in operation,” according to the Huntington Bank website, but some banks will put expiration dates on the checks themselves.

Cashier’s Checks vs. Money Orders: What’s the Difference?

Cashier’s checks and money orders are very similar — they even look similar. However, there are differences between the two.

Cashier’s Check vs. Money Order
Feature Cashier’s Check Money Order
Issuing agent Bank or credit union Supermarket, post office or convenience store
Limits None $1,000
Primary funding Bank account Cash
Cost $10 to $15 Less than $1.75

If you need an amount less than $1,000, a money order could be a reasonable replacement.

Alternatives to a Cashier’s Check

Cashier’s checks aren’t your only option for making large payments. Here are a few other options that could be better, depending on the circumstance:

  • Certified Checks
    certified check is basically a personal check — the funds are withdrawn directly from your account — but with a “certified” stamp of approval from the bank.
  • Money Orders
    A money order is a guaranteed check you can purchase with cash from a place other than a bank, such as a post office, supermarket or Walmart.
  • Wire Transfer
    Through your bank, you can initiate a direct-to-account transfer of your money. Wire transfers are potentially more secure than a cashier’s check because the funds are moved directly, but they can cost $25 to $35 to send.
  • Peer-to-Peer Payments
    You can pay friends and contacts quickly using a smartphone app. Some of the most popular peer-to-peer payment apps are Venmo and Zelle.

Of the options available, cashier’s checks provide security along with cheap fees. However, a money order offers more flexibility because it’s easy to purchase and you don’t need a bank account to buy one. Whichever you purchase, you will pay both the face value and the fee.

This article has been updated with additional reporting since its original publication.

Our in-house research team and on-site financial experts work together to create content that’s accurate, impartial, and up to date. We fact-check every single statistic, quote and fact using trusted primary resources to make sure the information we provide is correct. You can learn more about GOBankingRates’ processes and standards in our editorial policy.

About the Author

Sean joined the GOBankingRates team in 2018, bringing with him several years of experience with both military and collegiate writing and editing experience. Sean’s first foray into writing happened when he enlisted in the Marines, with the occupational specialty of combat correspondent. He covered military affairs both in garrison and internationally when he deployed to Afghanistan. After finishing his enlistment, he completed his BA in English at UC Berkeley, eventually moving to Southern California.