How can I get a cashier check or money order when I don't have a bank in CA?
September 4, 2007 10:49 PM   Subscribe

How can I get a certified check to pay the deposit on a rental property when neither of my banks have branches in the state I'm now living in?

I flew to California without finding a house because the house we did find fell through. So now we're here, found something better, and got approved. Great! Except, they want a certified check for $7200 tomorrow and I don't know how to get that.

My banks where I have funds to cover this amount are ING Direct, which is online only, and PNC Bank, which doesn't have any branches here in CA, and Commerce Bank, which is the same deal. I do have credit cards, but I don't really know how cash advances work (I tried to get some earlier this week to pay to pick up my transported car and it froze all my accounts), and the Property Management Company says they won't accept cash.

Help? I need to get this check tomorrow so we can move out of the hotel, move into a proper place, and get the kids into a school...
posted by visual mechanic to Work & Money (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
You can buy a money order with a debit card.
posted by gatorae at 11:20 PM on September 4, 2007

I'd go to a bank (any bank) in your new neighbourhood first thing in the morning, explain the situation, and let them solve it. They'll want your business so they'll make it happen. They'll want to give you a cashier's cheque instead certifying one of yours but that'll probably be fine.
posted by Mitheral at 11:48 PM on September 4, 2007

...the Property Management Company says they won't accept cash

If you have access to cash, you can buy a money order and/or certified check at ANY bank.
posted by amyms at 2:11 AM on September 5, 2007

You could also buy a bunch of postal money orders. I think the limit is $600 each, but that divides nicely into $7200.
posted by Malor at 5:34 AM on September 5, 2007

I had to do this once. I ended up faxing my bank (in another state) a letter with a copy of my driver's license as proof of identity. If you ask nicely (and offer to pay for the postage) they'll probably overnight it for you.

Beware the postal money order. That was my first attempt to get money where it needed to go, and my debit card wouldn't work. They do not accept checks or credit cards for money orders.

All the banks I went to would not give me a certified check because I was not one of their customers.
posted by backseatpilot at 5:41 AM on September 5, 2007 [1 favorite]

I've done what you're doing before. I went to a local bank, and had my old bank wire the money (the new bank was happy to do the faxing for me). I opened an account on the spot to receive the money. I had the cashier's check by that afternoon.
posted by letahl at 5:53 AM on September 5, 2007

I've bought several postal money orders on a debit card -- although I'm not aware of any debit cards with a $7200/day limit. I was assuming he had access to cash.
posted by Malor at 5:54 AM on September 5, 2007

letahl's suggestion is probably easiest. If you walk into any branch of a local bank, explain your situation and open an account, ING or PNC should be able to wire the money to you on a same or next day basis (you'll have to move fast, though - wiring is quick but paperwork is slow).
posted by Medieval Maven at 6:04 AM on September 5, 2007

letahl is right. You are going to need a local bank anyway, so might as well get it over with. Begin the process ASAP, though. Even a domestic wire transfer can take up to 24 hours, in a worst-case scenario. Like Medieval Maven says, it is not the wiring that is slow, but there is paperwork that the wire departments at the two banks have to process, and that can get delayed.
posted by Rock Steady at 7:09 AM on September 5, 2007

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