Cashier’s Check Vs. Certified Check: What’s the Difference?

People usually opt for a cashier’s or certified check when sending or receiving a big payment. Both are safer than personal checks and are considered a secure way to transfer a large sum, like paying for a car or house.

However, if you get confused between a cashier’s check and a certified check, you should know that:

A cashier’s check is drawn on bank accounts where the payer sends the money to the bank’s account, and the bank is responsible if the check bounces. A certified check is drawn on the payer’s account, who is also responsible if the check bounces. Also, a cashier’s check is safer than a certified check.

Sounds confusing?

The following guide details the primary differences between a cashier’s and a certified check, including how each works and what happens if a cashier’s/certified check bounces.

Let’s dive right in!

Key Takeaways:

  • The bank issues both cashier’s checks and certified checks. The primary difference between the two is the one responsible if the check bounces.
  • The bank is responsible if a cashier’s check bounces (because the bank draws money from its funds). However, the payer is responsible if the certified check bounces (because the funds are drawn from the payer’s account).
  • Cashier’s checks are safer and processed faster than personal checks. They are used when cash, credit cards, or personal checks aren’t suitable for heavy payments, such as when making a down payment for a car or home.
  • Rarely a cashier’s check will bounce because banks always have enough funds in their respective accounts. In fact, a cashier’s check cannot bounce as long as it is not a scam/counterfeit/fake.
  • When requesting a cashier’s check, you need to pay the bank the exact amount to be paid to the payee. The payee’s name will be listed on the check to make it secure.
  • You may or may not need an existing account in a bank to request a cashier’s check. However, both cases require cash at hand when requesting a cashier’s check.
  • If somehow, a cashier’s check is bounced, it means it is counterfeit/scam/fake. Your bank will remove money from your account and charge you for returning the money to the bank if you have already used some funds or all of it.
  • A certified check is similar to a personal check drawn from the payer’s account. It is safer than a personal check because the bank verifies the payer’s identity and funds for the payee and that it will clear from the right account (that is, the payer’s account).
  • Writing a certified check is the same as writing a personal check. The payer would fill out the check by writing the recipient/s name, amount to be received, and payer’s signature.
  • No money is reversed once the funds are set aside for the check. The payer will not get the option to withdraw or write checks against the funds mentioned on the check (put aside by the bank) until the check is cashed.
  • A certified check may bounce if insufficient funds are in the payer’s account. In such a case, the bank can impose an overdraft or non-sufficient money fee on the one who issued a check that bounced.
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What is a Cashier’s Check?

Cashier’s checks are guaranteed by the bank, meaning that the bank will be responsible if there is any problem cashing the check. In other words, cashier’s checks are personal checks drawn on the bank’s account/funds.

However, note that cashier’s checks are rarely bounced because banks always have enough funds in their respective accounts. Because of this, cashier’s checks are safer than personal checks.

When cash, credit cards, or personal checks aren’t handy, cashier’s checks are considered safer. They are widely used for heavy payments, such as when making a down payment for a car or home. Moreover, cashier’s checks are also processed faster than personal checks.

How do Cashier’s Checks Work?

When requesting a cashier’s check, the bank will ask you for the name of the recipient and the amount of the check.

The payee’s name will be listed on the check to ensure the check remains secure and isn’t used for a scam.

You need to pay the bank the exact amount to be paid to the payee, and the bank will print the check and cut it to you with its funds.

You might need to be an existing bank member to request a cashier’s check. However, some banks will issue cashier checks without an existing account. Nevertheless, in either case, cash must be at hand when requesting a cashier’s check.

After the check is provided, the bank puts aside the funds, but it remains in the bank’s account until it is cashed.

What Happens if a Cashier’s Check Bounces?

As mentioned earlier, the bank will be responsible if the check bounces. However, it rarely happens. In fact, a cashier’s check cannot bounce as long as it is not a scam/counterfeit/fake.

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It’s because a person must pay the full value of a valid cashier’s check ordered from a bank in cash or have funds available for immediate withdrawal from their bank account.

Therefore, a cashier’s check cannot bounce because it has already been paid for. It is also a safe option because it functions like a money order.

However, the consequences of a forfeit/fake cashier’s check can be severe. Your bank will remove money from your account if you deposit a cashier’s check that turns out to be fake.

You will be held responsible for returning the money to the bank if you have already used some funds or all of it. In such a case, your only option would be to take legal action against the original check writer.

What is a Certified Check?

A certified check is similar to a personal check as it is drawn from the payer’s account. If it bounces, the person whose account the money is drawn from will be responsible.

Compared to a personal check, certified checks are safe as the bank verifies the payer’s identity, funds for the payee, and other steps to authenticate the check.

How do Certified Checks Work?

When you request a certified check, the bank confirms that the funds in the account of the person requesting the money are enough to meet the amount of the check.

The bank will verify the payer’s identity and the funds and that it will clear from the right account (that is, the payer’s account).

An official bank stamp or watermark is also added to the check to make sure the check is not used for any other reason and that only the right person can cash the check. It makes a certified check even more secure than a personal check.

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Also, writing a certified check is the same as writing a personal check. The payer would fill out the check by writing the recipient/s name, amount to be received, and payer’s signature.

Note that no money is reversed once the funds are set aside for the check. The payer will not get the option to withdraw or write checks against the funds mentioned on the check (put aside by the bank).

It’s because the bank will keep a hold on the amount until the check is cashed.

What Happens if a Certified Check Bounces?

Because the banks keep a hold on the check until it is chased, the check can’t bounce unless it is a forfeit/fraud check.

A common reason a certified check bounces is insufficient funds in the payer’s account. If this happens, the bank can impose an overdraft or non-sufficient money fee if you issued a check that bounced.

Additionally, if the bounced check makes your payment overdue, the business you were attempting to pay may penalize you with a late fee. Your account may be sent to collections if you don’t pay any outstanding fees.

So, Cashier’s Check vs. Certified Check: What’s the Difference?

In a nutshell:

  • The bank issues both checks and cash must be ready for an immediate deposit for the two.
  • In a cashier’s check, the payer transfers the money to the bank’s own account, which makes the bank responsible in case of a check bounce.
  • In a certified check, the payer transfers the money from their own account, which makes the payer responsible in case of a check bounce.
  • A cashier’s check is safer than a certified check, but a certified check is more secure than a personal check.

Final Words

Cashiers and certified checks are secure options to make or receive a heavy payment. However, you should be careful of scams and frauds as they can throw you in big trouble.

Always check for watermarks and multiple signatures to ensure the authenticity of a cashier’s/certified check.

Watch out for spelling or printing errors, and always call the bank to verify a cashier or certified check.