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I intend to take out a large sum of money (~$30,000) from the bank account in the US for a major expense. It seems that cashier's check is the safest and financially most sensible but I wonder if there is any other better solution.

Cash

  • Pro: no charges for the withdrawal
  • Con: carry a large amount of cash around for the purchase is not wise

Money order

  • Pro: a few pieces of paper make this option safer
  • Con: each money order charges a fee and for $30,000, I think I need ~15 money orders and will pay for ~15 fees.

Cashier's check

  • Pro: as safe as money order
  • Con: one process fee
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    Question is not clear. How is one cashier's check going to pay multiple expenses? You going to rip the cashiers check into 6 pieces and give one piece to each vendor? You need to be clear about what you are trying to do. – Five Bagger Jul 18 '18 at 13:52
  • Unless you're buying meth or something, there are generally better ways of paying for stuff than handing over $30k in actual physical cash. – ceejayoz Jul 18 '18 at 13:57
  • @Five Bagger. The error has been fixed. It is actually one major expense, not multiple expenses. – B Chen Jul 18 '18 at 14:03
  • ACH/bank transfer is probably the safest method. And usually no fees involved. – Rocky Jul 18 '18 at 22:07
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Two obvious options are to use a regular cheque or pay by credit card.

A cheque (or "check" in US spelling) will typically not have any fee. Not all vendors will accept cheques, of course, but many will. For example, it's common to pay for the purchase of a new car using a cheque. It's quite common to write cheques for this much.

You could also pay by credit card, provided your limit is high enough. The vendor has to pay the credit card processing fee, so it's much less common that a vendor will accept credit card payments for this much. Additionally, you'd want to immediately pay off the balance of your credit card to avoid interest charges.

  • Does your credit card allow charges of $30,000? – Five Bagger Jul 18 '18 at 14:15
  • You didn't mention credit card fees. The merchant pays a 2.5% fee which would be $750 on that charge. Unless the vendor is a retail operation it is unlikely they accept credit cards. In the United States, a car dealer that accepts a credit card is extremely rare, and the few that do charge big fees to process them. – Five Bagger Jul 18 '18 at 14:19
  • I've chosen a smaller credit limit. It's not unusual for people to have credit limits well into the six figures. I did specifically mention credit card processing fees as a reason why vendors commonly don't accept credit card payments. – ChrisInEdmonton Jul 18 '18 at 14:19
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    Somebody who does not know about bank transfers and is trying to figure out how to pay somebody $30,000 is not going to have a $100,000 credit limit. – Five Bagger Jul 18 '18 at 14:55
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    @FiveBagger Someone who has $30,000 in the bank might indeed have a $100,000 credit limit. I can tell you from experience that many vendors do accept cards for large purchases such as the one described here, and they have the merchant fees built into their sales price whether you use a card or a check or cash. – Nathan L Jul 18 '18 at 15:51
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In the United States, the most secure thing to do is a bank to bank transfer. The vendor needs to give you their banking details. Most companies are experienced and know how to do this. You then fill out a form at your bank and the money is wired immediately to the vendor's account.

The simplest thing to to is to have the bank make out a cashier's check to the vendor. You then mail or hand deliver the check to vendor. If some problem occurs and the check disappears, it will take at least 3 months before the bank will refund your money.

Of course, for both of these options, the name of the vendor will be recorded and the vendor's account which receives the check will be recorded and known to the federal government, which is the reason banks require check's over $1,000 to have a named recipient (checks made out to "cash" are no longer legal). If you don't care about your transaction being surveilled and recorded by the government, then the cashier's check is the way to go.

The advantage of cash is anonymity and integrity. A check can bounce or be easily forged, but cash is difficult to forge, so from the vendor's perspective is much safer since they are not risking a bad check. If this is just an accounts payable deposit, then the vendor may not care. If you doing something like buying a painting and walking off with it, then the vendor may prefer cash to a check.

  • I disagree that a cashiers check is the simplest option. A personal check is the simplest option. I've never had a vendor blink when I wrote a personal check. I have had vendors ask for 50% before beginning work, but that's not as common as you might think. – Nathan L Jul 18 '18 at 16:16
  • @NathanL I assume that the OP either does not have a checking out, or the vendor does not take personal checks, because he does not mention that as one of the options. – Five Bagger Jul 18 '18 at 16:50
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    The OP is literally asking for suggestions. Your opening sentence offers one such unlisted option. Why would you assume personal checks are prohibited but not wire transfers? – Nathan L Jul 18 '18 at 16:59
  • There may be many reasons why the OP would be aware of checking accounts and not consider the possibility of writing a personal check. If this person typically writes small checks, they may think there is an arbitrary limit to the size of checks they can write. – Nathan L Jul 18 '18 at 17:20
  • @nathanL, Five Bagger, Thanks for all the input. As the OP, my concern was some vendors may not accept personal checks for such a large amount of money without knowing in advance if the personal check would bounce. Perhaps it was an unsubstantiated assumption. – B Chen Jul 18 '18 at 22:18
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Step 1. Ask the person you are giving the money too.

I have done several car purchases where the amount was in excess of $10,000. In some cases the car dealer would only take a cashiers check, with a deposit by credit card or personal check. In other cases they were happy with the personal check. It depended on the policy of the dealer.

In the cases of getting a roof put on my house, a heat pump replaced, or remodeling done, the company was flexible: credit card or personal check was fine. These weren't for $30K but they weren't cheap either.

Cash seems to sketchy and dangerous. Getting multiple money orders seems painful. In either case I would be constantly checking the cash/money orders to make sure I didn't drop some.

If they can take a credit card, then they might accept a transaction that large. They might also have a policy regarding the maximum amount they will accept by credit card, or they might charge an extra fee. They also might allow a split transaction: $10K by one method and the rest by another method.

If the amount of the transaction will exceed the credit limit on your credit card, some credit cards will allow a temporary increase for a specific purchase. You will have to talk to a person to get that increase, any function on the website to request an increase probably will not allow you to boost it quick enough, or to the amount you need.

For you the problem with a cashiers check is that you have to be able to get to a branch to get the check. You also have to know the exact amount to the penny, or they have to be willing to accept a cashiers check for the bulk of the transaction, and a personal check for the rest. My credit union doesn't charge me a fee for a cashiers check, so the cost might be zero.

If you do use a personal check, make sure you have the money in the checking account before you write the check. You have no idea if your request to move the money from savings will beat the transaction from the company.

I have never done a bank-to-bank transfer, so I can't comment regarding speed, cost, or ease of process.

In this entire answer I have been assuming that this is a safe transaction, and that the company is legitimate. That allows both sides to trust that the other side will act in a trustworthy manor.

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