A bank check is a guaranteed check issued by the bank on the bank’s own account, after a purchaser (usually a depositor in the bank) “buys” it. It is guaranteed because it is as good as cash – the purchaser of the check pays the bank the sum indicated on the check (either directly or through account debit), so there is no way the check will bounce.
Bank checks are very handy when you need to pay a large amount of money but do not want to carry cash. Most purchasers of bank checks use them to pay for big acquisitions like properties, to pay taxes, to close business deals, etc.
A bank check typically looks like a regular check, except that it is bank issued and does not depend on anyone’s account. It also has the basic elements of the regular check: a date and place of issue, a check and account number, a clearly written payee name, a clearly written amount of currency, and of course, the signature of the drawer (in this case, the bank manager).
Like a regular check, a bank check is typically valid for six months after the date of issue (except in special cases when the validity date is otherwise indicated).
Anyone can apply for a bank check, but the process is made much easier if you are already a depositor at the bank where you want to buy a bank check. In this case, they simply debit the amount of the check from your account, write up the check, give you a receipt and the check, and send you on your way. If you do not have an account in the bank you want to buy from, you can pay them upfront, and they can immediately write you a check. Note, however, that banks usually impose service charges for this request. The service charge varies, but it is typically only a few dollars (or more, depending on bank regulations or the amount of the check).