Money Orders: How To Send, Get & Cash Them!

It may seem as if in this day and age of online banking and transactions, there wouldn't be much need for money orders; however, this simply is not true. There are many situations in which you might need a money order, and many people pay quite a few bills with them and use them on a regular basis.

In this guide, we will discuss use of money orders, review the steps you need to take to purchase and use a money order and provide suggestions regarding good sources of money orders.

What Is A Money Order?

A money order is a very reliable way of transferring funds from one person to another. There are lots of places where you can purchase a money order, and most are inexpensive and fairly convenient.

Using a money order is a very secure way to make large purchases because you don't run the risk of misplacing or losing large amounts of cash.

When you use money orders you must pay a small fee for a monetary document that is very similar to a check. You will verify the amount of the money order you wish to purchase, and then you'll fill in your identifying information along with that of the recipient on the face of the document.​

Just as with a check, you write the purpose of the money order in the memo line and then you sign the document.

You will be given a receipt, or you may have a carbon copy of the document to keep for your records. When the recipient cashes the money order, he or she must endorse the back of the document and show identification.​

Where To Get A Money Order (Money Orders Near Me)

You can purchase money orders in many grocery stores and convenience stores. Here are half a dozen good, reliable choices that offer convenience and lower fees.

​1. Walmart Money Order

Wal-Mart is the most popular source of money orders because it is so convenient, and the rates are good. If you purchase your money orders at Wal-Mart, you can expect to pay seventy cents per money order.

Wal-Mart has $1000 limit on each money order, and you can pay using your Wal-Mart MoneyCard, a PIN-based debit card or cash. Money orders from Wal-Mart are issued through MoneyGram. You can not buy a money order at Wal-Mart with a credit card.

2. ​Kroger Money Orders

Kroger issues money orders through Western Union with the same rate and limits as Wal-Mart ($1000 limit at seventy cents each). You can purchase money orders at Kroger using a PIN-based debit card or cash.​

3. CVS Money Orders​ (MoneyGram)

CVS: Another company that uses MoneyGram to issue money orders is CVS Pharmacy. Getting Your money orders at CVS is not quite as desirable as Wal-Mart or Kroger because they charge a little bit more (ninety-nine cents for each money order) and they impose a $500 limit.

CVS issues money orders through Western Union. To get a money order at CVS, you can use a PIN-based debit card or cash.

​4. Family Fare (Western Union Money Orders)

Family Fare also issues money orders through Western Union and imposes a $500 limit; however, they only charge seventy cents for each money order. At Family Fare you can also use a PIN-based debit card or cash.

5. Post Office Money Order​ (USPS)

The US Postal Service issues money orders at a rate of a $1.65 each and with a limit of $1000. You can pay for U.S. Postal Service money orders using a PIN-based debit card, a traveler's check or cash.

​6. Bank Money Order

Banks also issue money orders. Rates vary depending upon whether or not you have an account, the type of account you have and the balance you carry. Generally speaking, bank money orders range from no fee to five dollars each.

You can pay for money orders at your bank using cash or by withdrawing money directly from your checking or savings account.​


These are just a few of the choices available as places to purchase money orders. As mentioned, the vast majority of people purchase their money orders at Wal-Mart because of the extended hours, high limit and reasonable rates.

Nonetheless, it is certainly possible to find good options in other venues that may be more conveniently located for you.

How Much Does A Money Order Cost?​

The cost of a money order will be the amount you want to send to someone plus a fee by the issuer.

Your Cost = Money Order Amount + Fee

Something to remember is that if you are buying multiple money orders, the fee will apply to each one.

For example, if you have 5 money orders and the fee is $4 each, the total amount that you will pay is $20 on top of the money order amount.

Methods of payment:

  • Cash
  • Debit
  • Travelers Check

​Limits

With that in mind, there are limits to the size of money order that you can buy. $500 or $1000 limits are in place by most issuers. This is not such a bad idea since the degree of risk is higher than simply a straight bank wire transfer.

Fees​

Banks typically charge $5+ per money order while other issuers such as Western Union, Walmart, CVS and USPS charge much less for domestic MO’s. International money orders usually have higher fee.

Can You Get A Money Order With A Credit Card?

Yes, there are a limited number of issuers who will allow you to buy a money order with a credit card. However, the fees and rates of the money order will be much more than if you had used cash or debit.

Note: Using a cash advance from your credit card might help you avoid the increased fees for the money order, but your credit card company may charge high fees for a cash advance.

It’s really best to avoid using a credit card to pay for a money order if you don’t want to pay for extra fees and interest.

How To Send A Money Order​

3 steps to send a money order:

  1. Buy a money order from an issuing institution
  2. Fill out the money order
  3. Send it to the person or business that you want to send the money to.

There are also 3 ways that you can send a money order to someone.

In Person – This is the safest way to give a person a money order, but not the most convenient at times.

Online / Electronically – Many large money transfer companies such as Western Union allow you to send a money order online.

Mail – You can mail a money order just as you would a personal check.

How To Fill Out A Money Order

In this video example, a Walmart money order is used. The process is similar for other money order issuers.

After requesting a specific dollar amount from the cashier, you will be required to fill out some information on the money order itself. There are 3 areas that you will need to fill out.

  1. “PAY TO THE ORDER OF” – The person’s, or business’s, name who you are sending money to.
  2. “PURCHASER, SIGNER FOR DRAWER” – Your signature.
  3. “ADDRESS” – Your address or account number (if you are paying to a business)..

Make sure that you fill out the information correctly the first time. Many issuers don’t allow refunds even if you haven’t left the store.

How To Cash A Money Order​

If you receive a money order as payment for something, you can also go to any of the listed sources to cash your money order.

To be absolutely certain of being able to cash a money order hassle free, it's wisest to go to the issuing institution.

In other words, if your money order came from Wal-Mart you'll have the best luck cashing it at Wal-Mart.​

Cashing a money order:

  1. Receive the money order.
  2. Fill out your name and personal information if not already on it.
  3. Go to the issuing institution and request to cash the money order.
  4. Keep your receipt at least until you have verified payment.

Are There Downsides To Using A Money Order?

Because money order issuers have a limit of $500-$1000, you will need to get multiple money orders if you need to send more money than that. This means your fees may add up and become quite costly.

Although there are numerous sources for money orders, it is naturally not as convenient to use a money order as it is to write a check.

Still, if you do not have the ability to pay your bills online and you do not have a checking account, money orders are an excellent alternative.

Are Money Orders Safe?​

While for the most part paying with and receiving money orders is foolproof, it's only natural that ne’er-do-wells have figured out how to tamper with them. Scamming with a money order is rather an involved process, but you should be on the lookout for it.

It is possible to counterfeit a money order. It is also possible to steal a legitimate money order and forge identifying information onto it to cash it. These are rather extreme circumstances, though. All-in-all money order scamming is fairly rare.​

5 Money Order Safety Tips​

  • Use a black pen to fill out your money order. Using black ink makes it very difficult for someone to erase any information, such as your name.
  • Don’t leave blank spaces. Blank spaces could leave enough room for someone to alter the information.
  • Always keep your receipt until you’ve verified payment.
  • Don’t send a blank money order. Always address the money to the person you intend on sending the money to. If you don’t, anyone could fill in their name and claim the money.
  • If possible, try to give the money order directly to the person, in person, rather than through the mail. If using a mail service, it is best to use a priority service with tracking and insurance.

Are There Alternatives?

If you have a checking account, naturally you should use it, especially if your account has a monthly fee. Naturally, if you have a checking account you may also be able to pay your bills online using a bill pay service or your debit card. This is certainly more convenient than purchasing money orders.

A money order is an excellent option if you don't have a checking account or if you simply don't want to use the check for a given purpose. There are also some instances in which a personal check is not acceptable, but a guaranteed money order is.​

In circumstances when checks or money orders are not accepted, you may wish to purchase a cashier’s check. Cashier’s checks are available in larger amounts than money orders and are more secure because they are signed by a representative from your bank.

A cashiers check is drawn directly from the bank after you have transferred funds from your own account to the bank’s account. Fees for cashiers checks may be as high as $7 to $10, but some types of checking accounts allow for free cashier’s checks.

Places that provide money orders through MoneyGram or Western Union may also provide wire transfers. This can be a safe way of sending larger amounts of money quickly across the nation or around the world. Fees are quite high ranging from 25 or $30 nationwide $200 or more internationally.​

Of course, you may be able to use a credit card to make purchases and pay bills remotely, but generally speaking it’s better not to pay bills using a method that charges you interest. Using a credit card to pay for major purchases can be a good idea if the credit card issuer includes replacement benefits, purchase insurance, travel miles or cash back.

A prepaid debit card can also be a good alternative to a money order. A prepaid debit card can be a good way of managing your money because it gives you the convenience of a credit card without the ability to go over limit.

Before using a prepaid debit card, you must be certain to check the amounts of various fees involved.

Some are quite high, and the end result is that you are simply giving away your money in order to use your money. When this is the case, it's really not worth it.​

Is It Smart to Use Money Orders?

There are certain circumstances in which a money order is just the right financial conveyance. Money orders can be simple and convenient to obtain and are generally quite secure.

Overall, it's a good idea to research and stay on top of all of your options to make the wisest choice at any given moment.

When you use a money order you do not have to disclose your checking account information. This is sometimes desirable if you need to mail a payment to an unknown recipient.​

If you are purchasing an item from an unknown vendor, he or she may require that you send a money order. The reason for this is that money orders cannot bounce. Paying with a money order ensures that the recipient will get his or her funds.

In short, you can use a money order in any situation in which you could use a check. Furthermore, you can use a money order in many situations where you cannot use a check. If you don't have a checking account, money orders may be a very good option for you.​