While credit and debit cards make paying for things electronically a breeze, there are situations when a check is a better option. Perhaps you need to pay a landscaper for services rendered, or you want to make a down payment on a home. Because a traditional check isn't verifiable and can bounce if there are not enough funds in the account to cover the check amount, those who accept checks as a form of payment may require that you submit a certified check, especially if it's a large amount of money.
What Is a Certified Check?
Unlike cashier's checks that are paid for with cash, a certified check is guaranteed by your bank based on the current funds in your account. The bank reviews your account and ensures you have enough funds to cover the amount written on the check, and then they reserve that amount within their system so you can't spend it elsewhere. Starter checks and line of credit checks cannot be used for this purpose. You'll need to have a checking account with the bank and use only their checks.
Know the Cost
Not all banks will certify a check for free. In fact, many of them charge a small fee. Schuyler Savings Bank requires customers to pay $10 for a certified check, while Santander Bank charges $15 for this service. Next, you'll need to check your account balance to ensure you have sufficient funds to cover the amount written on the certified check. You can get this information from your bank teller, or by logging into your account using the bank's website or app.
Visit Your Local Bank
Unfortunately, you cannot obtain a certified check by any other means than heading to your local bank branch and speaking with the teller. Let the bank employee know that you'd like to get a check certified. Fill out the check with the following information: date, person or entity you are paying, the numerical and written amount of the check and your signature. You can write a note in the memo section if you wish. Hand the check to the teller, who will then use the account number on the check to verify that you have the funds to cover the check amount. The bank employee may ask to see a valid form of identification to verify your identity; then he or she will put a hold on your account for the specific amount written on the check.
Ready to Go
After recording the transaction in your check register, you can give the check to the intended recipient. You can do this in person, or by mailing the check if the individual lives out of country.