What is a Cashier's Check?

wiseGEEK Writer

A cashier's check is a financial certificate or note that people use in place of cash, regular checks, credit or other types of payment such as money orders. It has other names, including bank check, bank draft, teller’s check, treasurer’s check and official check. Although it functions in much the same way a regular check does, it’s different because the issuing financial institution, not the remitter or buyer of the document, provides the money to cover the face value. This makes it a secure way to exchange money, although instances of fraud are on the rise.

Cashier's checks are safer than carrying a large amount of cash.
Cashier's checks are safer than carrying a large amount of cash.

Physical Description

Although each bank has its own take on the design of official checks, the documents always have the name and location of the issuing financial institution, including routing information, clearly displayed. Banks frequently use techniques such as watermarking to improve security, and the documents also are specifically labeled as a teller’s checks.

Small retail stores may not accept cashier's checks as a form of payment.
Small retail stores may not accept cashier's checks as a form of payment.

All official checks include the name of the payee and the amount to be paid, as well as information about the remitter. The notes must include at least one signature or signature facsimile of an official from the issuing bank. The date when the document was issued also appears, which can have an effect on whether or not the recipient can cash it.

Cashier's checks draw from an individual's personal funds.
Cashier's checks draw from an individual's personal funds.

Buying One

In order to get a cashier's check, the buyer withdraws funds from a personal account, or he has cash available. He then pays this money to the institution that creates the certificate, which is often the buyer’s own bank. The bank becomes responsible for paying the amount indicated on the bank draft from that point, so people consider this payment method to be secure or certified.

A cashier’s check is a financial certificate or note that people use in place of cash.
A cashier’s check is a financial certificate or note that people use in place of cash.

Some banks are hesitant to issue a cashier’s check if the buyer writes a regular check from a different financial institution to cover the cost. They might not issue the teller’s note because they cannot easily verify that the buyer has enough money in his account to cover the face value. When a person has an account at the bank that issues the certificate, however, this usually isn’t a problem, because representatives easily can access the buyer’s account to see whether enough money is available. Tellers usually still ask to see personal ID before deducting money for a bank draft from a personal account.

International cashier’s checks in major foreign currencies are available at some banks. People use these for tasks such as paying suppliers located overseas or sending money to family and friends. Such checks are secure like the domestic version, but they can take a long time to reach the recipient and finally clear.

In general, regardless of whether a person wants a domestic or international check, a business or individual typically uses one only when the amount to be exchanged is over $1,000 US Dollars (USD). People tend to want a better guarantee of payment the more money is involved, and cashier’s checks provide this. For smaller amounts, money orders sometimes work instead, but they aren’t guaranteed in the same way.


In most cases, bank drafts have fees attached during purchase. The charge can be either a percentage of the total check or a flat fee, but it usually is fairly small. The policies the issuing bank has and the remitter’s relationship to the institution both effect what the person has to pay.

How to Cash

Cashing this type of check is no different than cashing one from a personal or business bank account. The recipient first has to endorse the document on the back. He can then deposit it into his bank account by going to his bank in person or by visiting an ATM. If the recipient wants the money in cash, he has to bring it to a bank teller.

Similar to regular checks, bank drafts expire, typically within 90 to 120 days after they are issued. They usually clear by the next business day, but many financial institutions put holds on checks worth more than $5,000 USD because of an increase in fraud, requiring the recipient to wait up to two weeks for payment. The hold gives the bank time to verify that the document is valid.


Banks usually will issue a cashier’s check to anybody who can present enough cash to cover the processing fee and the face value of the document. This makes them a good choice for people who don’t already have a bank account. Groups and individuals also turn to bank drafts when they want a transaction to be completed fast. The security on these certificate means that the recipient doesn’t have to wait around for verification the way he might with a personal check. This can matter in areas such as real estate, where the ability to get money quickly can make or break a business deal.


Some institutions require a cashier's check as a secure type of payment. Car dealerships might want one for a deposit on a vehicle, for example, or an apartment manager might ask for one when someone is renting a place to live. These organizations usually are dealing with transactions worth at least several hundred dollars at a time, so they want to minimize the risk that a payment won’t go through.

Scams and Fraud

Cases of check scams are on the rise, especially due to an increase in Internet use. One example is when an individual sends an email to another about a check he wants the recipient to deposit. The person who sends the email says that, in exchange, all the recipient has to do is transfer funds to the sender from her own account. The document the recipient gets from the scammer can look very real, but it is worthless.

Another popular scam is used with online sites. A person sends a fake cashier’s check to pay for an item listed for sale, and the seller’s bank initially doesn’t discover the document is counterfeit. By the time the seller knows that the note is fake, he usually has sent the item to the scammer already.

People can avoid fraud by refusing to cash checks from individuals, banks or businesses they don’t know. If they know the issuing bank, they still should verify that the address and other contact information on the check are correct. In general, cashing one of these notes should not require payment from the recipient, except if he takes it to a check cashing service or other institution that explicitly states that it charges a fee.

A person may deposit a cashier's check into his or her account by visiting an ATM.
A person may deposit a cashier's check into his or her account by visiting an ATM.

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Discussion Comments


I made a deal for a trailer and land had to get a cashier's check because it was a lot of money. I made the check out in the seller's name and took to her, but she will not accept the check. She said she had decided not to sell. Now I have a check made out to her and she won't take it, so what do I do? Can I have the money deposited back into my account even though it has been made out to her? I am the remitter.


Note that in Massachusetts the buyer must bring a bank check, certified check, cashier's check, or perform a wire transfer to get the funds to the closing lawyer(s). However, the seller just gets a check written on the lawyer's account in some obscure bank some obscure place. This means that upon deposit the bank will place a “hold” on that check that, as a minimum, will be seven days. The hold is often even more because banks play “games” with such deposits made near weekends.

Therefore, if you are selling your house, do not expect to get any money right away. Both lawyers and banks have schemes to create “float” so they can use your money while waiting for the “automated clearing house” (ACH hold) process to complete.


Our Bank of America didn't charge us anything.


Bank of America just charged me $10 for a cashier's check.


I would like to know the answer to post no. 10.


i paid cash for a $2000 check at a bank. i was closing the account. I gave the teller the money and she then cut a check for me to send to a family member.

My wife just passed in early March and I felt more secure having my brother in law send me a little each month to make sure I was budgeting properly. Alice used to do all that.

The wrong check was sent to my brother in law and says it is not negotiable, copy, do not cash. Meanwhile I can't find the good part of check. I think I threw it away by accident. What can I do? Does anyone have an idea?


A cashier's check is no good for instant cash if its name implies it is from the state bank of india, one of its officers in the NRI division told to this writer. He told me it will take thirty days before I will see the money! What is a visitor to do?

I was born and brought up in a prestigious family in this town 75 years ago. But today, things have changed. Who am I to borrow for survival in a strange country now? He said he was following the rules and regulations of the Reserve Bank of India.


Why is it when you give your bank a cashier's check they have to hold it of up to five days?

I understood that the money was given to a bank in cash form in order to get a cashier's check. This, in turn, should never bounce. I find it very hard to keep my cool when if you write a check they want their money A.S.A.P. or they charge you. So in all fairness they should comp me extra money for holding the cashiers check. It's all about the Benjamins, right?

I feel banks are crooks and we should all keep our money hidden outside banks. Then they cannot claim lol (bankruptcy) and the government cannot take our hard working dollars for taxes. That's another issue!


To all of you who have received cashier's checks that seem fishy, such as the cashier check coming from New York, but the check is from a bank in Ohio: do not cash it! Do not, for your own sake, carry out any transactions using cashier's checks via the internet. You will end up being liable for the money you lose to these scammers.


a big national bank in indianapolis tells me they have to order the money in before they can cash a cashiers check bought from the same bank in the same financial region but from a bordering state. what do they keep in the vault? toasters?


i was looking for a job at certain website and i saw an ad that said personal assistant. once i wrote to them they said that they would pay me 300 dollars for three days, two hours a day? how is it possible?

i get the check for 3200 and the email said that to get my 300 from the amount sent, then send the rest to another person. I haven't deposited the check or anything and the worst is, it has my name. I don't know if I should send it back or not?


I sent a cashier's check to rent a condo and the renter is saying they have not received the cashier's check and they have already rented out the condo for those dates now. I have $800 out there somewhere now. Will the bank let me stop payment on the checks?


Cashiers Checks are not the same as official checks. Do not try to deposit an official check into a real estate escrow and expect it to be considered immediate "Good Funds."


how long are cashiers checks good for?


why would a bank post a cashiers check?


I get twelve free cashiers check per day at my credit union.


Chase charges $8.


I was just sent a cashier's check. I was told that if I cash the check and it happens to bounce or is a phony check, that I would actually be liable for the whole check amount and that I'd have to pay it back to the bank. Is this true? What got me thinking the check was a scam was that the person fedEx'd it to me from New York, yet the cashier's check was taken out from a bank in Ohio. Is this a red flag and should I be suspicious? I'm not going to cash the check, but I do want to know for future reference. Thank you in advance.


It cost US $6 for my cashier's check at the bank of america.


What is the cost of a cashier's check at a bank?


What usually happens if your cashier's check is lost or stolen? I always thought it would be your tough luck, but would banks refund the money to your account if the check was never cashed/deposited?


why would a bank issue a post-dated cashiers check?


please which is the best way to cash a cashier check? deposit or cash instantly


Can cashiers checks be stopped or not honored?


My mom is being sued by my sisters credit card, etc... companies. My sister has a AKA connected to my moms home address. It appears that they have assigned this AKA to my mom as well and now are going after her and taking money from her bank account to cover these accounts. We have contemplated taking out the cash and turning them into cashier checks or a visa card until this mess has been resolved. Can they trace these and put a freeze on the money?


If I remove funds from a bank that may fail and have it in the form of an Official bank check and deposit it into another bank and it takes 10 days on hold what happens to this check and my money if the bank I removed it from fails before the 10 days?


In most states it is required by law for the financial institution turning the money over to the state to provide due diligence to the individual whose money is being escheated to the state. This may be in the form of a letter to the individual, or perhaps some other form of communication. I used to work for a state's unclaimed property office.


After reading on this I just deposited a check but have not drawn the funds from it. I have made a copy of the check prior to depositing it. My question is if I do not withdraw the funds will i have to pay for whatever charges due to not withdrawing on the deposited check?


It's my understanding that the state can take your money from your accounts if there is no activity on them for a period of three years. Also cashiers checks can be seized. I think the person should be notified by the bank before the state can take your money. Cashier checks are guaranteed funds and the bank said they would be good for life. When we went to make a down payment on a house they all bounced and we found out the State had taken the money, now they want the original checks to refund the monies, but the Bank says they destroy the checks, this is not good. I feel the name of the person their address and phone number should be somewhere on the copy the Bank keeps and a letter should be sent to notify the person the checks belong to, before they can seize their money.

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