Banks offer a wide variety of ways to help you manage finances and send payments out. There are six types of checks a bank (or its members) issue that are considered valid and acceptable payments. You will use different checks depending on your personal circumstances and the requirements of the party receiving them.
Personal and business checking accounts give the account holder the ability to write a check to distribute funds from the checking account. Considering these as a bank check is a loose affiliation because the bank does not issue the paper tender. But, it is considered a valid bank method of money transfer from a checking account and is the least expensive means for a consumer to use when dealing with any bank checks. Most checking accounts allow you to write so many checks per month without a fee.
Cashier's checks don't have as much wait time as a personal check. With a cashier's check, the bank takes your money or already has it in an account and issues a check from its own account. Since it is drawn on the bank's account and not a personal or business account, the likelihood of it being returned for insufficient funds is reduced. Cashier's checks are often used for larger transactions such as a car purchase. Banks charge a fee for a cashier's check; ask your institution about its fees.
A certified check is a check that is guaranteed by the bank. It is often confused with a cashier's check since both are drawn on the bank's account. The bank takes the funds for the transaction and places it into an account they will guarantee the funds remain until the check is cashed. As with a cashier's check, there is often a fee with a certified check. The fee is often reduced if you have an account with the bank.
A money order is not a check but is often considered one of the types of checks because it is a paper method of exchanging cash. Money orders can be bought at a variety of places other than and including banks. The money order works like a certified check and is used for similar purposes in which the recipient does not want to risk the money not being there when the check is cashed. Money orders do not expire whereas a cashier's check or certified check may. Fees are typically less for a money order than a certified or cashier's check.
Traveler's checks are not as popular as they once were since most places worldwide accept credit cards. The traveler's check is bought ahead of time so the value is guaranteed. For security purposes, however, the legal tender requires the initial signature when purchased and a matching signature when spent. While credit cards have replaced most uses for traveler's checks, they are more difficult to replace if lost or stolen. Therefore, it may be wise to maintain some traveler's checks when going abroad just in case.
Everything has gone Internet. Many banks are now offering their customers the ability to pay with eCheck. This is not so much a check as an electronic transfer that uses your bank routing and account number to pay a bill. Some vendors require a check number, but often you do not need this. There may or may not be a fee for an eCheck depending on the payee and the institution issuing the check.