One way of growing a business is accepting multiple means of payments, including checks. Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon for ordinary checks to bounce when you go to cash them, and that leaves you with the hassle of chasing down customers and clients whose checks have bounced.
You can get around this problem by accepting cash in place of checks. However, cash is the least safe method of payment. It’s not always practical either, particularly for large payments, and that’s where a cashier’s check comes in.
What is a cashier’s check?
Also known as an official check or bank check, a cashier’s check is a check that’s written against the bank’s own funds. As such, it is guaranteed by the bank, not the payor as is the case with regular checks. For this reason, cashier’s checks never bounce or fail. They’re usually signed by the bank’s cashier or teller.
Cashier’s checks provide a better measure of security compared to other means of payments. As the payee, you’re always sure that the check will clear because it’s drawn against the bank’s funds. Plus, cashier’s checks typically clear faster than personal checks.
As a business owner, you can also use a cashier’s check to make your business payments. Your vendors, suppliers and creditors will be glad to know that the checks you make out never bounce. This is likely to foster positive business relationships.
When to use a cashier’s check
Cashier’s checks are commonly used when making large payments that can’t be covered by credit cards, debit cards, and ordinary checks. They’re especially handy if the payee needs assurance that the check won’t bounce. As a business, you may use a cashier’s check for:
Purchasing high-value equipment
Making mortgage down payments
Covering mortgage closing costs
Purchasing company car, land etc.
Repaying a big loan
In short, cashier’s checks are ideal for big purchases, not everyday spending.
You may also use a cashier’s check when you need to avoid any form of payment fraud. These checks are usually watermarked and signed by one or two bank employees, which makes them absolutely secure and impossible to counterfeit.
Besides, you won’t have to share your business or personal checking info with the payee. That’s because cashier’s checks are drawn from the bank, not your personal or business account.
Another advantage of using a cashier’s check is that it clears quickly. The payee typically gets funds within the next business day. Therefore, it makes sense to use a cashier’s check when you need a payment to clear quickly.
It’s worth mentioning that you can also request your clients and debtors to use cashier’s checks whenever they’re paying big money. This will guarantee that your business actually receives the payment and on time, regardless of the amount.
What if your cashier’s check is stolen or lost?
If you lose your cashier’s check, you can request another check from the issuing bank. This may take anywhere between 30 and 90 days. There’s also a possibility that the bank will ask you for an indemnity bond before reissuing the check. The bond essentially makes you (or your business) liable for the check’s reissue.
Where can I get a cashier's check?
There are three main places where you can get a cashier’s check: a bank, a credit union, and online. Most (but not all) banks and credit unions only issue cashier’s checks to their own customers. Therefore, if you already have a business account with a financial institution, that would be the best place to start when looking for a cashier’s check.
Here’s the process of getting a cashier’s check at a bank or credit union:
Gather your information: this includes the name of the payee, amount payable and your picture ID for proof of identity.
Visit your bank or credit union: if your business is already a current customer of a bank or credit union, then visit the nearest branch and see a teller. The teller will supply you with a cashier’s check. You’ll need to specify the account from which the funds will be drawn. This is your business bank account. Why? Because while a cashier’s check is drawn against the bank’s funds, you (the payor) actually supply the cash.
Pay applicable fees: most credit unions and banks charge a fee for cashier’s checks. While this fee generally ranges from $6 to $10, you may find that your bank charges more or less. Some even offer free cashier’s checks for premium account holders.
Banks and credit unions may also provide online cashier’s checks, particularly now that most institutions are moving their services online due to COVID-19. In which case, simply log into their website and look for the “Order Checks” tab or something similar. The exact navigation and layout of a website varies from bank to bank but you’ll generally get a prompt to guide you. Of course, you’ll also need to add the necessary information, including payee details, amount payable and notes that you may want to include.
Once complete, hit “Submit”. The check will be sent to the recipient via mail, which may take several days. This slight delay is what makes it better to get the check from the counter and then deliver it to the payee in person.
Alternatively, rather than visiting a bank in person, you may have the cashier’s check sent to you. This involves ordering the cashier’s check online through the bank or credit union’s website. They’ll likely charge you a fee for the check as well as postage or delivery fee.
Where to get a cashier's check without a bank account
Although most banks reserve cashier’s checks to their customers only, some issue them to non-customers for a fee. You may need to call banks in your area and ask if they issue cashier’s checks to non-customers. You can also try contacting check cashing services in your area and see if they offer cashier’s checks, although usually they only provide money orders. You’ll need to pay the full check amount in cash. From there, everything is pretty straightforward:
Gather all the necessary information, including payee details and amount payable.
Request a check from the bank or credit union teller. Make sure to have the full amount of the check.
Fill and submit the check, along with the amount payable and applicable fees. The teller will sign the cashier’s check.
Request a receipt as proof of payment. You may need it to track the check should that be necessary.
Alternatively, if you need to use a cashier’s check but don’t have an account at a bank or credit union, you may consider opening one – preferably an affordable checking account like the Nearside checking account for businesses. With no monthly fees and no minimum deposit requirements, this is the most affordable checking account for startups and growing businesses.
If opening an account is not practical either, then you may consider using a money order instead of a cashier’s check.
Cashier’s check vs. money order
Much like a cashier’s check, a money order is a prepaid order for a pre-stated amount of money. It is, however, not backed by the bank but rather by the payor with cash or a debit card. And since the money is already given to the bank by the payor, a money order is unlikely to bounce.
And just like cashier’s checks, money orders are typically used to pay for large purchases like real estate, high-value equipment and cars. However, most issuers of money orders do put a limit. For example, the U.S. Postal Service has a $1,000 limit on its money orders.
Money orders are easier to get compared to cashier’s checks. You can walk into any bank or credit union and request a money order, even if you don’t own an account there. Other institutions like the post offices, drugstores, supermarkets, convenience stores, and check-cashing stores also issue money orders.
So, what is better, a cashier's check or a money order?
While cashier’s checks are more secure, money orders are easier to get. It, therefore, depends on what you need. In case your priority is security, then a cashier’s check makes more sense. On the other hand, if you’re looking for convenience, then you might prefer a money order.
Also, keep in mind that money orders typically have amount limits. Thus, if you want to make a large payment with no limits, then a cashier’s check may serve you better. That said, you may use a money order in lieu of a check if you don’t have a bank account. Oftentimes, a money order will serve the same purpose in a situation where a cashier’s check is needed.
Cashier’s Check vs. Personal Check
The biggest difference between a cashier’s check and a personal check is that while the latter is drawn from the payor’s checking or savings account, a cashier’s check is drawn from the bank’s funds. This, therefore, means that a cashier’s check is unlikely to bounce while a personal check can bounce if the payor doesn’t have sufficient funds.
Additionally, cashier’s checks are more secure and less susceptible to fraud compared to personal checks. This makes cashier’s checks more suitable for business transactions. Your information (and that of your business) is always protected.
Are There Any Cashier’s Check Alternatives?
The best alternative for a cashier’s check is a money order. They work pretty much the same, with the exception that a money order requires you to back the order with cash or a credit card while a cashier’s check is drawn from the bank’s funds. Also, a money order may limit how much money you can pay using the order.
If for some reason you can’t get either a cashier’s check or money order, then the next best alternative is online transfer. Popularly known as electronic fund transfer (EFT), online transfer refers to the electronic movement of funds from one account to another. The two accounts can be in the same institution or in different institutions.
Some of the most reliable forms of online transfer include ACH withdrawal, wire transfer, e-checks, and third-party apps like PayPal.
The biggest advantage of using online transfer is that it’s quick – quicker than checks and money orders. In some cases, the payee may receive the payment instantly. Besides that, online transfer eliminates paper, saves time due to ease of automation, and brings convenience. You can make a payment from anywhere at any time provided you have a computer or smartphone and internet access.
The downside of online transfer is that it can be expensive compared to cashier’s checks. Depending on the online transfer service provider, you may pay as much as $50 to make one transaction.
Frequently asked questions about cashier’s checks
Q: Where can I get a cashier's check besides a bank?
A: Apart from banks, credit unions also offer cashier’s checks. Most banks and credit unions will allow you to get a cashier’s check online via their website. This may save you a trip to the physical branch.
Q: Can you get a cashier's check from any bank?
A: All banks issue cashier’s checks. You can walk into any one of them or a credit union and request for a cashier’s check. However, most (but not all) banks and credit unions only give cashier’s checks to their customers.
Q: Where to get a cashier's check without a bank account?
A: While most banks and credit unions reserve cashier’s checks for the customers only, some issue them to non-customers for a fee. Therefore, start by calling banks in your area to ask of they can give you a cashier’s check if you’re not a customer. You’ll need to pay the full check amount in cash. You can also consider a money order which functions similarly to a cashier’s check and is more widely available.
Q: How does a cashier’s check work?
A: When you request for a cashier’s check, the bank will check your account to ensure that you have enough cash to cover the amount payable as stated in the check. That amount is transferred from your account to the bank’s account and then the cashier’s check is drawn against it.
Q: How much does a cashier's check cost?
A: Cashier’s checks cost anywhere from $6 to $10, although some banks charge slightly more or less. Some offer cashier’s checks completely free of charge for their customers.
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