What is a Cashier’s Check vs. Money Order

If you need guaranteed funds to pay for a transaction, cashier’s checks and money orders are two options that may be available to you. Even though the two terms often get used interchangeably, these payment methods are actually quite different. Let’s take a closer look at cashier’s checks and money orders so you can choose the right option for your situation.

What is a cashier’s check?

A cashier’s check is an official check issued by a bank or credit union. If you opt for a cashier’s check, a representative will need to sign it. This is because the bank or credit union will take funds directly from your checking or savings account and place the cash in its own account.

How can I get a cashier’s check?

You can get a cashier’s check at a bank or credit union, or online. Some banks or credit unions may allow you to take out a cashier’s check even without having an account. In that case, you should bring cash to cover the value of the cashier’s check as well as any fees.

Benefits of a cashier’s check

There are a few benefits of using cashier’s checks as your payment method. A cashier’s check is one of the safest ways to make a large payment, so it may be useful if you need to make a security deposit or down payment. A cashier’s check is also much faster than a personal check because it allows the funds to be available as soon as the next day.

What is a money order?

A money order is a paper document that looks like a check and can be used as a form of payment. To purchase a money order, you’ll prepay the amount printed on its face with cash or another type of guaranteed funds. Many stores and other types of organizations like Advance America offer money orders.

How can I get a money order?

There are more options if you want to get a money order instead of a cashier’s check. Banks and credit unions offer money orders, but you can also get them at certain lenders, including Advance America, as well as some retail stores or even your local U.S. post office.

Benefits of a money order

Just like cashier’s checks, money orders come with a few notable benefits. Since you’ll have to specify who will receive the money order, and both you and that person must sign it for it to be valid, theft is unlikely to occur. A money order also comes with easy tracking because you’ll receive a tracking number that you can use to ensure the right person received the money order.

When should I use a cashier’s check vs. money order?

Often, whether you use a cashier’s check vs a money order will be a requirement that you have no control over. For large transactions, such as a down payment or security deposit, you may be required to use a cashier’s check for security reasons.

When a cashier’s check isn’t required, a money order is often more convenient. Money orders tend to have lower fees than cashier’s checks and are available at more locations. It also may be easier to replace a lost or stolen money order, while a lost cashier’s check can require buying an indemnity bond as well as up to 90 days to be replaced. However, money orders may have a low limit of the maximum value they can be issued for, so a payment above $1,000 or so may require multiple money orders.

Which is easier to buy: a cashier’s check or money order?

It is usually easier to buy a money order rather than a cashier’s check. Money orders are available from banks and credit unions as well as many retail stores and lenders, including Advance America. Cashier’s checks, on the other hand, are only available at a bank or credit union. Money orders also tend to have lower fees, although some banks may waive fees for cashier’s checks if you have an account.

Which is better: a cashier’s check or money order?

Cashier’s checks can offer a high level of security when moving a large amount of money. They also offer access to funds as soon as the next day. For those reasons, cashier’s checks are often better for the payee in a transaction.

On the other hand, money orders may be better for the payer in many transactions, as they are easier to replace when lost or stolen and charge lower fees per money order.

Cashier’s checks and money orders also both have limits on their maximum value, however money orders will typically have lower limits than cashier’s checks. That’s another reason cashier’s checks are preferred for large transfers.

Deciding whether cashier’s checks or money orders are better will ultimately depend on the amount of money you’re looking to move and what options are available to you. Compare what your local banks, credit unions and lenders offer as options for cashier’s checks and money orders.

Differences between a cashier’s check and a money order

Differences

Cashier’s Check

Money Order

Maximum Amount

Large amounts

Up to $1,000

Issuer

Banks and credit unions

Grocery stores, pharmacies, post offices, convenience stores, etc.

Cost

$10 or more

As low as $1

Credibility

Guaranteed by the bank or credit union

Less secure than cashier’s checks

 

Maximum amount

The maximum dollar limit is one of the major differences between money orders vs. cashier’s checks. Limits for money orders usually cap out at $1,000. Cashier’s checks, on the other hand, are available for larger amounts, making them ideal if you’d like to put money down on a car or house.

Issuer

Money orders are typically available at many places including grocery stores, pharmacies, post offices, and convenience stores. Advance America has money orders that you can purchase at a location near you. Cashier’s checks, however, can only be found at banks or credit unions.

Cost

While both options are affordable, money orders tend to have lower fees than cashier's checks. You may be able to buy them for a couple of bucks or even as low as $1. Cashier’s checks cost an average of $10.

Credibility

Since cashier’s checks are drawn against and guaranteed by a bank or credit union, they tend to be more credible than money orders. Some perceive money orders to be riskier since they are available at such a wide variety of places. However, most money orders are safe as long as you purchase them from a reputable organization.

How to get help purchasing a money order or cashier’s check

While you have to go to a bank or credit union for a cashier’s check, you can get a money order from an Advance America location. We offer money orders that you can purchase in-store at any of our locations near you. Make sure to bring cash to cover the money order transfer amount and any additional fees, as cash is the only payment method accepted. You may also use a cashier’s check as collateral for some of our loan products.

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