Money orders: when, where and how (2023)

When you need to make or accept payments, but cash, checks, and wire transfers won't fit in your account, apay orderit is a safe and convenient solution. Available at over 200,000 US locations, money orders are also easy to purchase or cash.

A money order is essentially a paper check that cannot be returned because it is prepaid. You can buy one at any US Post Office or atWestern Union o MoneyGramoutlets such as those found inside supermarkets, pharmacies and other supermarket chains and convenience stores.Most of the bankscredit unions, midiscount checkstores also offer money orders.

How to cash a money order

  • Take the money order to a location that redeems money orders
  • Deposit the money order into your bank account

main conclusions

  • Money orders provide an easy way to securely exchange funds when paying with cash is impractical, a personal check is not accepted or desirable, or a non-digital payment is required.
  • You can get money orders from many places, including post offices, most banks, and Western Union outlets at CVS, Walmart, and 7-Eleven stores.
  • There are advantages and disadvantages to using money orders.
  • While money orders are usually inexpensive, they almost always involve a purchase fee and sometimes a redemption fee for the recipient.
  • Money orders are an attractive tool for scammers, so it's important to check the visual security features on any money order you receive.

When should I use a money order?

For situations where paying by cash, check, or a digital app is not ideal, or even feasible, amoney order might be the best answer🇧🇷 Like a check, money orders are written directly in the name of natural or legal persons, and endorsement and identification are required to cash them. This makes money orders much more secure than cash, protecting funds in the event of loss or theft.

Money orders have played a key role in the history of the United States. During the Civil War, thieves would break into post offices and deliveries to take money sent across the country. Postmaster General Abraham Lincoln at the time came up with a solution: money orders.

Despitepersonal checksOffering similar security benefits, money orders have the advantage of being prepaid. Assuming you have a legitimate money order, accepting it as a method of payment is risk-free because the sender has already provided the funds.

On the other hand, a personal check is accepted in good faith that the sender's bank account has sufficient funds orspecial checkprotection to cover the check. Otherwise, the payment bounces and the recipient is broke, often paying a bank fee on top of that.

(Video) ✅ How To Fill Out A Money Order 🔴


  • Safer than cash in case of theft or loss

  • Cannot be returned as a check for insufficient funds because the amount has been paid in advance

  • Less expensive than a certified or cashier's check from a bank


  • Requires a personal visit to a money order vendor

  • Requires you to pay a purchase fee, unlike personal checks

  • Not allowed for mobile deposit by all banks

    (Video) What is a money order

The advantages of money orders over cash and checks make them preferred or even necessary in many situations, such as when:

  • The recipient is not comfortable trusting a personal check due to a lack of familiarity with the sender or past bad experiences with previous payments.
  • The sender does not want to reveal their address or checking account number.
  • It is essential to make the payment without running the risk of being rejected due to insufficient funds.
  • The payer does not have a checking account and cash is not practical.

Certificatemiadministrative checksalternatives are possible. But banks often charge higher fees for the extra security.And you have to go to a bank during banking hours to get them, giving you fewer options for time and place. So if a money order can handle the job, it may be a more flexible and cost-effective option.

Where can you buy money orders?

When deciding on a money order, the next decision is where to get one. Although online providers are springing up, buying money orders is still primarily a paper and personal industry. But it probably won't be hard to find a money order location near you.

Money orders can be purchased or redeemed at more than 200,000 locations in the United States, including 31,000 post offices, CVS and Walmart, as well asWestern Unionmimoney gramoutlets within tens of thousands of 7-Eleven, Publix, Kroger, Meijer and other retail stores.Most bank branches and credit unions also offer money orders.

done fast

Each money order comes with a detachable stub or receipt that allows you to track it after delivery or mailing.

As with any other consumer purchase, you should pay attention to prices because not all money order sellers charge similar fees. Walmart is one of the least expensive options, charging a maximum of $1 per money order.The US Postal Service charges either $1.45 or $1.95 per money order, depending on whether the amount is more or less than $500.

Prices elsewhere can vary wildly, so it's best to check ahead. For example, going to a bank or credit union where you're a customer could mean you can buy free money orders, or instead find the cost is $5 or $10 unless you're in the highest account tier. stream.

Another consideration is how many money orders you will need, as the value of each is often limited. For example, the USPS limits the maximum amount of a money order to $1,000.So if, for example, you need to pay $2,500, you'll need three money orders. Once again, knowing the fees in advance is helpful.

$ 1.000

The maximum amount for which a single payment order can normally be issued.

(Video) ✅ How To Fill Out Western Union Money Order 🔴

Please note that the purchase of a money order with a credit card is treated as a cash advance. Therefore, even if a money order seller offers to buy forCredit card, we recommend paying with aDebit, cash or bank account withdrawal to avoid finance charges on your next credit card bill.

Beware of money order scams

One disadvantage of money orders is that they are susceptible to fraud and have become a common vehicle for thieves. In response, the design of money orders has evolved to include a variety of security and anti-counterfeiting features. From watermarks and security stripes to rainbow ink patterns and UV light features, look out for the various indicators that can tell you whether or not a money order is legitimate.

If someone pays you more than the requested amount with a money order and asks you to pay them back the difference, watch out! This is a common scam by money order scammers.

If you're unsure about a money order, look up the issuer (the US Postal Service, Western Union, and MoneyGram are the top three) and research the specific security features it should include. You can also call the issuer to help determine if the money order is authentic.

How to cash a money order

If someone pays you with a money order, you have two options for converting it into funds:

  1. Take it to a place thatredeem moneyorders (bank, post office, Walmart, supermarket, etc.) to receive your cash value.
  2. Sign the back and deposit it into your bank account like a check.

Both methods have potential drawbacks.

Cashing it out gives you the fastest access, and if the payment request is later found to be false or fraudulent, you can escape this problem yourself.

However, redeeming money orders is not as convenient as purchasing them. For example, some convenience stores sell money orders but do not cash them. And while post offices pay money orders in theory, if your money order is large and the post office is in a small market, they may not have enough money available to redeem it.

Redemption may also involve a commission. Your best option is to redeem a money order with the same provider that issued it. So take a money order to a post office, a Walmart money order towalmart, and so on. This way, you will most likely avoid ransom fees. As with purchasing money orders, it's worth calling ahead to see if a location can accept your redemption and to ask if fees will apply.

(Video) ✅ How To Get A Money Order From 7/11 🔴

The alternative is to deposit the money order into your bank account as you would a check. This gives you the advantage of securely adding the payment to yourBank balance, instead of walking away with a large sum of money that you may not physically want or need.

Keep in mind, however, that depending on your bank, depositing a money order may not be as easy as depositing a check. While you may be used to making mobile appsBank depositsWith your smartphone, some banks do not allow electronic money order deposits; instead, they require you to join a branch. And if your bank is an online-only institution, it may not accept money order deposits.

If you decide to convert your money order to cash or take it to your bank, be sure to bring photo identification and do not endorse the money order until you are at the counter with a clerk or teller who will accept it.

What is the maximum amount available for a money order?

Most issuers set a limit of $1,000 for a single payment order. For larger amounts, you will need to obtain a cashier's check or purchase multiple money orders.

Who collects money orders?

Most banks accept money orders, as do some grocery stores, pharmacies, and money transfer services like MoneyGram and Western Union. Please note that just because a facility issues a payment order does not mean it will be discounted. Check your location's policies before you go there.

What can I do if a money order is lost or stolen?

In general, money orders are treated the same as cash. However, they do have a receipt attached. Depending on where you purchase your money order, there may be some recourse. Check with the issuing agency to find out.

Do money orders expire?

Money orders do not have expiration dates per se, but if they are older than a year, the issuing agency may charge fees to collect them. If they are not discounted for many years, they may fall into the category of unclaimed property.


From its origins as a secure way to transfer money during the Civil War to its current status as a convenient tool for those without a bank account or in need of certified funds, money orders have become a staple. While money orders are quick and convenient, buyers may need to do a little research to get the best prices. When receiving a payment order, remember that these are financial instruments considered as cash. Keep them safe or delete them as soon as possible.

(Video) What is a Money Order?


What are the rules for money orders? ›

Domestic money orders never expire and they do not accrue interest. Money orders are cashed for the exact amount on the order. You can cash a USPS money order at a Post Office for free. You can also cash them at most banks and some stores.

What is a money order answer? ›

​A money order is an order issued by the Post Office for the payment of a sum of money to the person whose name the money order is sent through the agency of the Post Office. A 'Payee' is the person named in money order as the person to whom the money is to be paid .

What do they ask when you get a money order? ›

Have everything you need: Be prepared with cash or a debit card, the name of the payee and the amount you want to send. Paying with a credit card might be possible, but will usually cost extra. Fill it out: In addition to the payee's name, you'll need to add your name (and maybe your address) and sign the money order.

Do you have to fill anything out on a money order? ›

You don't have to write the amount of the money order in, but you should make sure it's correct. Payee: The first line of the money order usually reads “Pay to the order of” or “Pay to.” Here, write the name of the person or business you'll send the order to.

Do you have to fill out the front of a money order? ›

Things You Should Know

Write the name of the recipient on the money order immediately. Otherwise, it can be cashed by anyone who finds it. Sign the front of the money order. The recipient will sign the back when they go to cash or deposit it.

Can a money order be rejected? ›

A money order may not be cashed if there is even just one small mistake on it, such as an incorrect date or unreadable writing.

What are the disadvantages of money order? ›

The Downsides of Money Orders
  • They're not always a convenient form of payment. Money orders must be purchased in person.
  • They have a purchase maximum. ...
  • They come with fees attached. ...
  • They're commonly used in scams.
22 Oct 2022

Can money orders be cashed immediately? ›

One of the easiest ways to receive your funds is to cash a money order at the bank. Consider cashing your money order at a bank where you already have an account so that you can securely deposit the funds immediately.

Why do people use money orders? ›

Money orders let you send and receive large amounts of money safely without stupid bank fees. And most importantly, they help guard your personal information. Sure, money orders will include your name and address, but unlike a personal or certified check, they won't include your bank account or routing numbers.

How much is a money order for 1000? ›

USPS Money Order pricing works as follows: $1.45 for $0.01 to $500. $1.95 for $500.01 to $1,000.

How long do money orders take? ›

In general, money orders should arrive to the recipient in a couple of days. However, during weekends or holidays this might take longer. For this reason, make sure to wait at least 14 days before expecting some issue with the money order.

Does it matter where you get a money order from? ›

Banks and Credit Unions

For more frequent purchases, you'll probably want to find an alternative. The main benefit of a bank or credit union money order is customer service—they can make tracking the money order easier for you.

Why do they ask for ID for money orders? ›

Sometimes your Retail Associate will ask for personal information when you buy certain USPS® products, like money orders. By providing this information you are helping to protect yourself and helping to keep criminals out of your Post Office™. You are also obeying the law.

Do money orders get flagged? ›

However, for individual cashier's checks, money orders or traveler's checks that exceed $10,000, the institution that issues the check in exchange for currency is required to report the transaction to the government, so the bank where the check is being deposited doesn't need to.

Can a money order be for any amount? ›

Money orders can usually be purchased at a check cashing store, post office, grocery store, and many other places, are typically limited to less than $1,000, and have lower fees than cashier's checks.

Do I put my address on the front of a money order? ›

Step 2: Write your address on the “purchaser” line

Next is usually a line that says Purchaser's address. You are the purchaser and so you should write your current mailing address. Some money orders may use the words From, Sender, Issuer, Remitter, or Drawer.

Who's address do you put on a money order? ›

2. Add the Payee's Address. Below the space for the payee's name, you should see another field for the payee's address. This is where you'll add the recipient's address information.

How can you tell if a money order is good? ›

If the money order seems suspicious, call the U.S. Postal Service Money Order Verification System at 866-459-7822.

Can you be scammed with a money order? ›

Money order scams are on the rise and fraudsters are getting creative in how they target unsuspecting consumers. With the multitude of ways available to pay someone electronically, money orders might seem obsolete. But there are plenty of people who use them. And criminals are trying to take advantage of this.

Can a money order bounce? ›

Many recipients prefer money orders because, unlike a personal check, a money order can't “bounce” and clears almost immediately; therefore, they provide a fast, risk-free form of payment.

Is a money order safer than cash? ›

Like a check, money orders are written directly to individuals or companies by name, requiring endorsement and identification to cash them. This makes money orders much more secure than cash, protecting the funds in case of loss or theft.

How long does money orders take to clear? ›

10 The clearing process can take a few weeks, even if your bank's funds availability policy allows you to use the money immediately. If you use the funds and the money order turns out to be fake, the bank will require you to repay the amount.

Can I cash a money order at an ATM? ›

Banks usually accept post office money orders like they would a regular check at branches, ATMs or even on a mobile app. Money orders from other sources may need to be deposited at a branch.

How long do you have to cash out a money order? ›

DO MONEY ORDERS HAVE AN EXPIRATION DATE? No. However, depending upon the state of purchase, if you do not use or cash the money order within one to three years of the purchase date, a non-refundable service charge will be deducted from the principal amount.

Who usually uses money order? ›

Money orders are readily accepted and converted to cash and are often used by people without access to a standard checking account. These instruments are an acceptable form of payment for small debts, both personal and business, and can be purchased for a small service fee from most institutions.

Is a money order safer than a check? ›

Money orders are more secure than paper checks and are widely available. Banks issue them, as do many grocery stores, convenience stores, gas stations, the U.S. Postal Service and check-cashing outlets. Many issuers of money orders have a $1,000 maximum purchase limit.

Can a money order be Cancelled? ›

With most money order issuers, including USPS, Western Union, and MoneyGram, you can cancel the payment. 12 To do so, either fill out a form or take the money order back to the place you originally bought it. Bring identification and any information you have about the money order to start the process.

Where can I buy a $2000 money order? ›

Money Order Near Me: 10 Places To Get One, With Fees and...
  • Banks or Credit Unions.
  • Western Union or MoneyGram.
  • US Postal Service.
  • 7-Eleven.
  • CVS Pharmacy.
  • Safeway.
  • Kroger.
  • Meijer.
11 Nov 2022

How much does a $2000 money order cost? ›

For example, claims that a standard money order can cost $0.70. At the post office (, a money order that is valued from $0.01 to $500 can cost $1.20, while a money order for $500 to $1,000 will cost $1.60.

Which is cheaper a money order or cashier's check? ›

Cashier's checks cost more, but let you send more money. Money orders are cheaper and easier to buy, especially if you don't have a checking account.

Do money orders clear same day? ›

Typically cash is same day. Official checks,money orders and government checks are next business day. Personal checks can be up to 10 business days but usually within 3.

How big of a money order can I get at Walmart? ›

Walmart offers money orders at a limit of $1000 for each. There is also a daily limit of $3000 per person. Walmart money orders cost between $0.88 to $1. You can buy a Walmart money order with cash, debit card, and PayPal.

How many money orders can I buy at once? ›

Multiple money orders may be purchased during the same visit (no daily limit). If you purchase more than $3,000.00 in money orders, you are required to complete a special form and produce acceptable ID.

Where is the cheapest place to buy a money order? ›

The 11 Best Places to Buy a Money Order
  • Walmart. Walmart money orders are pretty cheap and convenient since you'll probably be shopping their anyways. ...
  • Publix. When it comes to grocery stores, Publix is one of the cheaper places to get a money order. ...
  • CVS Drugstore. ...
  • 7-Eleven. ...
  • Kroger. ...
  • K-Mart. ...
  • Meijer. ...
  • Walgreens.
1 Nov 2022

How much cash can I deposit in a year without being flagged? ›

The Bank Secrecy Act is officially called the Currency and Foreign Transactions Reporting Act, started in 1970. It states that banks must report any deposits (and withdrawals, for that matter) that they receive over $10,000 to the Internal Revenue Service. For this, they'll fill out IRS Form 8300.

How much money can you put in a bank without questions? ›

We're here to help!

The IRS requires banks and businesses to file Form 8300, the Currency Transaction Report, if they receive cash payments over $10,000. Depositing more than $10,000 will not result in immediate questioning from authorities, however. The report is done simply to help prevent fraud and money laundering.

Can banks trace money orders? ›

For a bank-issued money order, your bank will likely keep a copy of the receipt, as they are the issuing institution. It is also likely that they will be able to identify your money order from your account history and trace it this way.

Who is the sender drawer on a money order? ›

The address portion of the money order is the address of the purchaser – YOU. This is so the person receiving the payment can contact you if there are questions. Some money orders may use the words “From,” “Sender,” “Issuer,” “Remitter,” or “Drawer” to indicate where you add your address.

Who is the purchaser on a money order? ›

Your signature authorizes the financial institution to pay your money order funds to the payee. The payor is also referred to as the purchaser or the drawer. Look for any of these three terms in the required signature section on the money order. The money order will include a tracking number.

Who is the payee on a money order? ›

The payee is the party that receives the money you're sending via money order. This could be a person, if you're making a cash payment to an individual. Or it could be the name of a business, if you're using the money order to pay a bill.

Can you cash money order if address is wrong? ›

Changing information on the completed money order will make the order ineligible for cashing; the official policy is that money orders must be canceled and/or refunded if there is a mistake.

Can I cash a money order without purchaser's signature? ›

Can a money order be cashed without purchaser's signature? No. In order to be cashed, a money order needs the purchaser's signature.

Are money orders discreet? ›

A money order is also great for when you want more privacy. A cashier's check may list your account number and other information typically printed on a personal check. A money order doesn't have this information, which makes it especially useful for sending money through the mail.

Can I cash my own money order? ›

Go to your local branch. Present the original money order to the teller. Provide a government-issued ID. Provide your account information (signature card, ATM card, debit card, or deposit slip).

Can anybody deposit a money order? ›

This means that if you have a valid account at a bank and someone has written you a money order, then you may be able to simply sign the money order and deposit it into your account. Much like a check, however, the document will need to be made out to you and be valid with a proper date and signature from the issuer.

Do I have to put address on money order? ›

If you're sending a money order, you'll need to put your own address in the purchaser section. This section might be labeled “from,” “remitter” or “sender” rather than “purchaser.”


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