Where to Get a Certified Check (+ What You May Want Instead)

Close-up of a personal check

Certified checks are only available at a bank where you have an account. Certified checks are personal checks written by you, the account holder, and guaranteed by your bank.

Below, we detail how and where to get a certified check. We also include how much it’ll cost you and explain why a cashier’s check may serve as a good substitute.

What Is a Certified Check?

A certified check is a personal check written by you, the account holder, and guaranteed by your bank. When you purchase a certified check, the bank sets aside the funds so that you can’t spend the money before the check is cashed. Most banks do this by transferring your money into a different account, often called a suspense account. Securing the funds in this way means there is almost zero chance of the check bouncing, so the recipient can be certain of receiving his or her payment.

How to Get a Certified Check

You need a bank account to get a certified check. Because the bank guarantees the availability of funds from your personal bank account, you must have an account to get one. Some banks will not certify starter checks, so you may not be able to get a certified check immediately after opening an account. Check with your bank to be sure.

Policies may vary by bank, so we recommend calling your bank ahead of time to be sure of the specific requirements. In general, here’s what you need to do to get a certified check:

  1. Make sure you have enough money in your bank account to cover the amount of the check and the processing fee.
  2. Go into the lobby of your bank. You will not likely be able to get a certified check through an ATM or drive-thru.
  3. Have your photo ID and account number available.
  4. Write and sign a personal check as you normally would, and present it to the teller to be certified.
  5. The bank will likely punch out some of the account numbers or put a sticker over the account number. This is so the bank where it is cashed will recognize it as a certified check and process it manually. Since the funds are likely being stored in a different account, the check can’t clear automatically.
  6. You are ready to make your payment by certified check.

Certified Check vs. Cashier’s Check

The difference is that a certified check is your own personal check, but with the bank’s certification. It’s a payment from you to the recipient. A cashier’s check is the bank’s check — a payment from the bank to the recipient. They are also referred to as “official” checks. You still pay for a cashier’s check, but it doesn’t have your name on it like a certified check.

Where to Get a Certified Check or Cashier’s Check

Because certified checks are personal checks, they can be easier to forge than cashier’s checks. Due to the opportunity for fraud, many banks have discontinued offering certified checks.

If you’ve been asked to pay by certified check and your bank only sells cashier’s checks, ask the recipient if they will accept a cashier’s check instead. We contacted many major banks and found that most only offer cashier’s checks. However, we found conflicting information on bank websites, so we strongly suggest contacting your local branch to confirm the availability of certified checks and their associated fees.

We also found that since most banks don’t sell certified checks, some customer service agents gave information about cashier’s checks when we asked about certified checks. For that reason, we recommend being very clear that you are inquiring about a certified personal check — not a certified bank check.

Banks That Sell Certified Checks

Unless otherwise noted, you must have an account at these banks to get a check certified.

BB and T Logo

1. BB&T

Santander logo

2. Santander Bank

Banks That Sell Cashier’s Checks

Unless otherwise noted, you must have an account at these banks to purchase a cashier’s check.

Capital One logo

1. Capital One Bank

Fifth Third Bank logo

2. Fifth Third Bank

HSBC logo


  • Cashier’s Check Fee: Customer service representatives could not confirm the fee amount, so check with your local bank.
  • Find a branch

PNC Bank logo

4. PNC Bank

  • Cashier’s Check Fee: $10 for standard checking account holders, free for Performance Checking account holders
  • Find a branch

Regions Bank logo

5. Regions

SunTrust logo

6. SunTrust

  • Cashier’s Check Fee: $15 for non-customers; $8 or free, for account holders, depending on the type of account
  • Find a branch

TD Bank logo

7. TD Bank

Wells Fargo logo

8. Wells Fargo

  • Cashier’s Check Fee: Free for Preferred, Premier, and Portfolio Checking account holders; $10 for other account holders
  • Find a branch

For more information, see the article on where to buy and cash a cashier’s check.

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