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What is a cashier's check?

A cashier's check is a check that's signed by a cashier or bank teller from a certified financial institution.

Your bank or credit union can print a cashier's check for you upon request, and the teller will transfer money from your account into the bank's own account and hold the money until the check is cashed.

When you give a cashier's check, the recipient can feel confident about being paid, because the bank will make certain the money is available. A cashier’s check can’t bounce because it's guaranteed to be legitimate.

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When you need a cashier's check

If you’re purchasing a car or a house, you can expect to be asked for a cashier's check for the full cost or for a down payment. It's the most secure and fastest way to prove you have the money for the purchase.

Also, you can ask for a cashier’s check anytime you’re receiving a large payment from someone you don’t know. For instance, selling a car? If the buyer would rather not show up with a wallet full of cash, that’s fine. Just request a cashier’s check instead.

In fact, never accept a personal check in these situations. It may be difficult to get hold of the buyer if the check doesn’t clear.

How to get a cashier's check

If you need to use a cashier's check, the easiest and fastest way to obtain one is in person at your home bank or credit union.

A teller can quickly confirm that your funds are legitimate and cut the check for you. You should also have the check recipient's name on hand, as well as some form of your own personal identification.

Some banks will provide you a cashier’s check even if you don’t have an account there, but the process can be much slower.

More: Looking for a new bank? Check out the best banks of 2023

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How much does a cashier's check cost?

Cashier's checks aren't free. The website MyBankTracker surveyed the 10 biggest banks in the U.S., and the average cost of a cashier’s check was $9.10.

Cashier's check vs. personal check

When you write a personal check, the money is withdrawn from your personal account and may take days to clear once the recipient cashes the check.

But cashier's checks clear instantly or by the next day, even when they involve large sums of money.

Because they’re reliable and fast, cashier’s checks are most commonly used for transferring large amounts of money for big purchases.

Cashier’s checks are more trustworthy than personal checks since some people knowingly write checks that won't clear. But a recipient will always know that the amount on a cashier's check is valid.

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About the Author

Esther Trattner

Esther Trattner

Freelance Contributor

Esther was formerly a freelance contributor to Moneywise.

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