You probably rarely write or receive a paper-based check these days, but they still serve a very important purpose. If you’re making a major purchase, for instance, the fees associated with electronic payments can make a paper check a better option. In particular, a certified bank check is a great way to safely pay someone else. Another benefit of paying by bank check is that your financial institution will be able to track its status once the recipient has deposited or cashed it.
After you submit a certified check to recipient, there are a few methods you can use to find out if the check has been cashed.
What Is a Certified Check?
One of the biggest issues with personal checks is the uncertainty that comes with them. The payer hands over a check; the recipient deposits it in the bank and waits for it to clear. If it doesn't clear, it bounces, shorting the recipient for whatever funds he’d planned to receive, plus associated bank fees.
With a certified bank check, the bank guarantees that the funds are available on behalf of the person making the payment by freezing the funds in that person's account. In this sense, the check can be considered prepaid. A certified check differs from a cashier’s check in that the funds for a cashier’s check don’t come directly from a bank account. Instead, the payer uses cash to buy the cashier's check.
Paying by Certified Bank Check
If you want to pay by certified bank check, you’ll simply go to your nearest bank branch and let the teller know the name of the recipient and the amount you’ll need. Before you go, you may want to make a phone call to ensure that branch offers certified bank checks. You’ll also need to take your identification and prepare to pay a fee, which typically runs between $5 and $15.
Once the check is written, the bank teller will stamp it as certified and sign off on it. The amount you’ve paid will be held in your account until the check clears, but remember to write down the transaction and deduct it from your checkbook balance immediately. Those funds won't be available to use to pay bills or for any other expenditure. Once you’ve given the check to the payee, you won’t be able to stop funds on it as you would a personal check. Before you distribute the check, snap a photo of it with your smartphone or make a copy of it. You might need to know the details of the check, such as the check number and date it was issued, should a problem arise.
Tracing a Certified Check
It’s important not to lose the certified check once you have it in hand since it can’t be replaced that easily. Once you’ve given it to the recipient, you might want to know if it’s been cashed or deposited. If you watch your bank account, you should be able to see when the funds have cleared but if you still need verification, you’ll need to contact your bank.
Whether you call or visit the branch, a representative should be able to determine the status of the check. If you have contact information for the recipient, it might be just as easy to call and ask if all is OK with the check on her end.