Cashier’s Check vs Certified Check

cashier's checks and certified checks

When you need to make a secure payment, certified checks and cashier’s checks are the financial product you want.

Explore this Guide:


What is a Cashier’s Check?


A cashier’s check is a check that is paid for by you, but written and secured by the bank.


This is why it’s called a cashier’s check because a cashier or teller is the one who writes and signs the check. Funds are drawn from the bank, after you pay for the cashier’s check at the bank branch.


You can purchase a cashier’s check from a bank or credit union.


What is a Certified Check


Certified checks are personal checks that are written by you, secured and guaranteed by the bank, and paid for with your personal bank account.


Certified checks are still personal checks and are signed by you, not the bank. But with a certified check, the bank verifies that the check signer can pay for this check with their personal bank account.


Certified Check vs Cashier’s Check


Certified checks and cashier’s checks are similar in that they are guaranteed, prepaid checks.


In both cases the bank employees can help you set up the check and you are responsible for paying the check amount.


But with a cashier’s check, you pay the bank for the check using a payment form like a debit card or credit card.


With a certified check, you use the funds in your personal checking account with the bank to pay for the check. Bank account holders will then have the easiest time getting a certified check.


Because cashier’s checks and certified checks are guaranteed by the bank, they are often used when the check sender and receiver need to be extra sure the check will successfully go through.


Where to Get a Cashier’s Check


You can get a cashier’s check from a bank or credit union.


If you have an account with the bank or credit union, you might be able to order a cashier’s check with them online. This just depends on whether they offer online cashier’s check services.


Where to Get a Certified Check


You can get a certified check from a bank or credit union where you have a personal account like a checking account.


Because certified checks are secured against the funds in your personal account, you need to have a personal account with that financial institution.


That personal account also needs to have sufficient funds to pay for the amount you want to put on the certified check.


How to Get a Cashier’s Check


Step 1: Have your payment ready


The bank uses its own funds to pay for the cashier’s check. This means you’ll have to pay for the cashier’s check at the teller window.


Be prepared to pay for the amount you want to put on the cashier’s check and for any cashier check fees the financial institution might have.


Step 2: Have the check information ready


The bank will print off the completed cashier’s check with all the details. So you need to have all the check details ready for them.


They’ll need to know the name of the check recipient and the amount of money you want to put on the check.


Step 3: Don’t forget the receipt


Once the financial institution prints out your cashier’s check, make sure you ask for a receipt.


This will allow you to track your cashier’s check if you need to. It will also give you documentation for your end of the check transaction.


How to Get a Certified Check


Step 1: Make sure your personal account has sufficient funds


It’s also a good idea to call your financial institution and make sure they offer certified checks and ask about any certified check fees.


Step 2: Make an appointment at your bank or credit union


Bring your checkbook and personal identification with you.


At the bank appointment you’ll write out the check, pay the certified check fees, and wait for the teller to certify and stamp your check.


Step 3: Deliver your certified check


Deliver your certified check personally or send it in the mail with a certified mail receipt and tracking options.


Certified checks are a type of prepaid check, so they are difficult to cancel.


Cashier’s Check vs Money Order


Certified checks and cashier’s checks are checks that your bank helps secure, guarantee, and verify for the check recipient knows you can pay.


Money orders are a form of payment that aren’t backed by the bank but by the money order customer. You can also get money orders from many places including Check City Money Orders or your local post office.


Money orders can also be sent securely to their recipients through Western Union locations.


The money order recipient just needs to know the money order’s 10-digit tracking number or MTCN.


When to Use a Cashier’s Check


Cashier’s checks are most often used when you want to carry a large payment without carrying cash.


Many people choose to bring cashier’s checks with them to auctions so they can pay for their items with a certified check without having to bring large amounts of cash on their person.


Read more about how checks can keep your purchases safe in, “6 Advantages of Using Checks.”


Real estate deals are another instance when you might use a cashier’s check. You can secure the title to a house with a secure cashier’s check with less risk for you and the check receiver.


Cashier’s checks also help you have large amounts of money ready for larger purchases.


Financial institutions often have extra checks and balances involved when trying to make large payments. Using a certified cashier’s check will help you bypass these checks and balances so you can make large payments on time.


When to Use a Certified Check


Certified checks are great to use when you need a secure and certified form of payment.


They are especially useful for when you need to send a payment through the mail.


Check City Money Transfers are another great service for sending money safely.


Check recipients often prefer certified checks when the check writer and receiver don’t necessarily know each other. The bank guarantees the amount of the check so the check receiver doesn’t have to worry.


Some scenarios where you might need a certified form of payment are when you’re making a downpayment on a home, a vehicle, or sending money to someone in the mail.


Cashier Check Scams


There are 2 main types of cashier check scams.


Either you receive a cashier’s check that is fraudulent or a fraudulent person or organization tries to convince you to send them a cashier’s check.


If you receive a cashier’s check, verify that it’s genuine by contacting the financial institution that issued the check.


You also want to check that the financial institution itself really does exist and is a genuine financial business. You can check a business’ genuinity by looking it up on the Better Business Bureau’s website.


The check might have the name and contact information of the bank on it, but don’t trust the number written there.


Instead, look up the number yourself in case the check is counterfeit with a fraudulent number.


If you are sending a cashier’s check, make sure you are sending the check to a genuine person, business, or organization.


Do your research into the person, business, or organization to make sure they are legitimate and that the mailing address given to you is correct.


Learn more about how to avoid check scams in “How to Cash a Check.”


It’s always a good idea to keep and file all documentation involved in check payments so you have a record of everything that happened.


It’s also a good idea to always know who exactly you are doing business with when handling financial transactions.


Common Check Scams


Most check scams involve either fraudulent checks or fraudulent organizations trying to receive genuine checks from you.


Work From Home Check Processing Job Scams


Someone sends you a cashier’s check and you are supposed to “process” this check as a work from home job.


You’re instructed to deposit the check in your own account and then forward the money to someone in order to “process” the check.


This is not a legitimate check processing method. Only financial institutions are authorized to process checks, not personal checking accounts.


This cashier check scam is designed to use you for money laundering or trick you into processing a fake check and losing money.


Shopper Scams


Someone sends you a cashier’s check to use as a mystery shopper or as a coupon or prize.


They might instruct you to deposit the check into your account and spend or transfer the money in specific ways.


But the check is fraudulent and you end up losing money or getting into trouble.


Customers Paying In Fraudulent Cashier’s Checks


You have a business of your own where you sell products or services and a customer steals your goods or services by paying with a fake cashier’s check.


Lottery Scams


You get a letter that says you’ve received a large amount of money in some way. It might say you won a lottery, won a prize, or received an inheritance.


The letter includes a cashier’s check that’s supposed to be used for the taxes or fees involved in sending you the full amount later that you’ve supposedly gained.


What really happens is that you pay a scammer fake fees and never receive any of the fake prize money.


Property Rental Scams


Property rental scammers can happen to renters and rental owners alike.


A potential resident pays the security deposit with a cashier’s check but then backs out of the contract and asks for their refund.


You send them their refund, but try to cash the check and realize it’s fake.


Renters can also run into a similar problem. Scammers will pose as rental property owners and ask for you to send them a cashier’s check for the security deposit or rental applications. But there is no rental property.


In Conclusion,


Checks are far from a dead medium.


In fact, using checks can be the safest way to send and receive money, especially when making large, important purchases.


So long as you look out for the red flags of check scams, you’ll be able to take full advantage of all the ways check cashing can keep your money safe.


Visit your neighborhood Check City Store for more check cashing services, including Cashier’s Check Cashing.


Investopedia. “Certified Check,” by Julia Kagan, “Best Ways to Get a Cashier’s Check,” by Rebecca Lake.

Nerd Wallet. “What Is a Certified Check?” by Juan Castillo, “Cashier’s Check: When You Need One, How to Get It,” by Alice Holbrook.

Experian. “Cashier’s Checks: When and How to Get One,” by Ben Luthi.

Bankrate. “What is a certified check?” by Matthew Goldberg.

SmartAsset. “What Is a Cashier’s Check, and Where Can You Get One?” by Emily Zhu.

Department of Financial Institutions. “Cashier’s Check Scams.”


written by Kimber Severance, Check City Copywriter

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