Help me determine the best way to mail a cashier's check
May 24, 2007 4:45 AM   Subscribe

I need to send a large (dollar amount, that is -- not comically oversized) cashier's check to someone within the US, from the US. I'm unsure of what the best service is to use. What are the pros/cons of using FedEx versus USPS Certified Mail? Thanks!
posted by Burhanistan to Travel & Transportation (14 answers total)
Have you also considered wiring the money via Western Union or Pay Pal?
posted by Pollomacho at 4:59 AM on May 24, 2007

Wiring the money is not an option here.
posted by Burhanistan at 5:02 AM on May 24, 2007

FedEx and certified mail are equally reliable. FedEx is faster, but is also much more expensive. If the recipient can wait three or four days, certified mail is definitely the way to go.

(My office sends a lot of mail, both FedEx and USPS. I know whereof I speak.)
posted by Faint of Butt at 5:08 AM on May 24, 2007

Registered Mail is the safest option the USPS provides. Contents are insured up to $25,000 and from my days working at a USPS distribution facility I can assure you they don't fuck around. There was actually a locked cage in the center of the facility where one person was in charge of sorting the registered mail. Everything had to be sealed before it left the cage and signed out to wherever it was going.
posted by otio at 5:16 AM on May 24, 2007

I've never had a problem with FedEx. Yes, it costs more, but the stuff inside of the envelope is worth it.
posted by birdherder at 5:31 AM on May 24, 2007

Registered Mail is what is usually used for shipping small things with intrinsic value like rare coins. It's also rather slow.
posted by smackfu at 5:38 AM on May 24, 2007

Well, I know with FedEx, UPS, and DHL (and I thought with USPS) they do NOT insure things that are cash or like cash (checks, money orders, etc.). So, if it got lost, there's nothing they can or will do about it. Just FYI.

To answer your question, I'd go FedEx.
posted by misanthropicsarah at 6:04 AM on May 24, 2007

For Registered Mail, the USPS will insure physical stuff like cash, jewelry, gems, etc as well as negotiable instruments. A cashier's check is a negotiable instrument.

Registered Mail tends to have much lower insurance rates because they lose things less due to the tight controls. About $1.10 per $1000.

Compare to FedEx at $0.50 per $100, and they only insure cash equivalents up to $500. Be very careful using FedEx.
posted by smackfu at 7:08 AM on May 24, 2007

A cashier's check is not a bearer bond. The recipient's name is on the check, and it can be reissued if lost. So while you want it to arrive, security is not really a decisive factor.

When dealing with large amounts of money, the interest lost while the money is in transit can be significant. $100,000 is worth at least $13/day in a plain old savings account. If you save $10 and it takes 3 days longer to send the money via a slow service, you've lost money by choosing the cheaper delivery method. It shows respect for the other party and the magnitude of the transaction if you take pains to make sure the money arrives quickly.

Thus: Fedex is the proper choice.
posted by jellicle at 7:47 AM on May 24, 2007

they [FedEx] only insure cash equivalents up to $500

A cashier's check is not a cash equivalent, but more importantly, it doesn't need to be insured for its face value.

If that check falls into the wrong hands (or doesn't get delivered), you talk to the bank that issued it and have it canceled and a new one issued. You'll be out-of-pocket for the fees involved in canceling/reissuing, but you won't be out-of-pocket for the value of the check.

If a cash equivalent falls into the wrong hands, then those hands have become wealthier, and there's nothing you can do about it. It's just as if you'd loaded the envelope with $100 bills.

On preview: What jellicle said... including identifying FedEx as the correct choice in this situation.
posted by toxic at 8:25 AM on May 24, 2007

Sorry, didn't realize you could easily replace cashier's checks. Seems like you could just use First Class mail then, like people do for normal checks.

Interestingly, you can usually insure the package for the cost of the reissue even if they won't insure the paper at face value. Perhaps not important for cashier's checks, but for stock certificates, replacement usually involves a 2-3% fee which may be thousands of dollars if there are enough shares involved.
posted by smackfu at 8:34 AM on May 24, 2007

If you would like to use registered mail and priority/overnight USPS can do that too.
posted by bigmusic at 9:58 AM on May 24, 2007

You want Registered Mail, not Certified Mail.

I know people who work for the Post Office. Certified Mail is basically just Delivery Confirmation + Signature Confirmation; essentially a way to keep the receiver from denying that they received the letter. It's good when you're sending snarky letters and want to prove later that you notified someone of something, but it really doesn't provide any additional security in transit. It's in the First Class Mail stream with everything else, pretty much.

Registered Mail is practically an entirely different class of mail. It's stored and transported securely, and it gets logged in and out of places as it makes its way through the system. I also think that it can only be transported by actual USPS employees, and not contractors, although that may have changed (given the number of contractors they use, that may not be practical anymore). When you mail it, they'll seal the envelope/package with postmarks, so you can see that it hasn't been opened on the receiving end.

I've seen photos of stuff the Post Offices in New Orleans right after Katrina; the first thing they did after the water went down was send in people (with guns) to recover all the Registered Mail. They take it very seriously. People send diamonds, stock certificates, and other valuables through it, all the time. (Interesting trivia: the postal museum in DC has the wrapping paper that the Hope Diamond was shipped in to the Smithsonian ... via Registered Mail.)

So if you're sending a big negotiable instrument, Registered Mail (with additional insurance if it's over $25k to replace) is what you should be using, IMO.
posted by Kadin2048 at 11:03 AM on May 24, 2007

I should clarify by stating that I was assuming that whatever you were mailing was a true "bearer instrument" ... i.e. equivalent to cash. If the cheque in question can be easily cancelled and re-issued, and if it's not possible for someone who might intercept it in transit to cash it, then RM probably isn't necessary.
posted by Kadin2048 at 11:20 AM on May 24, 2007

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