This article details how and where to get a certified check. We also include how much it’ll cost you. Furthermore, we explain why a cashier’s check may serve as a good substitute and which banks offer them.

The point of the article is to help you get a ‘guaranteed’ check as quickly and cheaply as possible, giving preference to certified checks but also giving you a more convenient option.

In This Article

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

  1. Be 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.

The Difference Between a Certified Check and a 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 a 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.

1. BB&T

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.

1. Capital One Bank

2. Fifth Third Bank

3. HSBC

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

4. PNC Bank

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

5. Regions

6. SunTrust

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

7. TD Bank

8. Wells Fargo

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

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

In Summary

Now you know how and where to get a certified check. A certified check is a convenient way to guarantee payment to a seller. However, given the incidences of fraud associated with certified checks, many banks have discontinued them in lieu of cashier’s checks. If you are making a big purchase and have been asked to pay by certified check, call your bank to verify that they provide certified checks. If not, ask permission from the recipient to provide a cashier’s check instead. They likely won’t mind.