Anyone considering buying a home should know how to get a certified check. Mortgage companies typically require certified funds for payment at a loan’s closing. Sometimes automobile dealers require certified checks for down payments on cars, and a seller who doesn’t know you may require a certified check for any large purchase. You could also be asked to provide a certified check when making a security deposit to a landlord. Certified checks aren’t likely to bounce and therefore give the people or companies to whom they’re written a sense of security.
A certified check is a personal check written by an individual who has a checking account. The bank on which the check is drawn guarantees or certifies that the check writer’s account has sufficient funds on deposit for paying the check.
Certified checks differ from cashier’s checks in that they are written on an individual’s checking account. Cashier’s checks, in contrast, are bank checks written on the bank’s account. To get a cashier’s check, you must pay the bank in cash or have the funds withdrawn from your bank account at the time of purchase. A certified check is not paid until the payee presents it for payment.
To obtain a certified check, you need two things. You need a personal checking account, and you need enough money in that account to cover the amount of the check you want to write and certify.
If you have these two items, go to the bank or credit union at which you have established your personal checking account. You will need to go inside the lobby rather than through the drive-through window and you should take a photo ID like your driver’s license with you in case you are asked for it.
Tell the teller you need a certified check and specify the amount for which you need the check. The teller will verify that your checking account has sufficient funds to cover the check. Once your checking account balance is confirmed, you will give the teller a completed and signed check made out to your mortgage company or whoever you’re paying with it. The teller will then stamp the check as certified and put a hold on your checking account in the amount necessary to cover the check.
Expect to pay a small fee for this service. Although some banks provide certified checks to their customers for free, most financial institutions charge for certifying a check. The fee varies from bank to bank. Sovereign Bank charges $15 to certify a check. First Eagle Federal Credit Union only charges $5 for the service. Check with your own institution to see how much they charge. If you have checking accounts at more than one institution, check with both institutions to see if one charges a lower fee than the other.
Once you obtain your certified check, record the check number, payee and amount in your check ledger. That way, if your certified check gets lost or stolen, you will have the necessary information for issuing a stop payment on it.