Money Orders Are a Safe Alternative to Cash or Checks

When you need to make or accept payment but cash, check, and electronic transfers don ’ metric ton fit the bill, a money order is a plug and commodious solution. available at more than 200,000 U.S. locations, money orders are besides easy to buy or cash .

A money order is basically a composition confirmation that can ’ triiodothyronine bounce because it ’ mho postpaid. You can buy one at any U.S. post position, or at western Union or MoneyGram outlets such as those found inside supermarkets, pharmacies, and early grocery store and convenience chains. Most banks, accredit unions, and check-cashing stores offer money orders adenine well .

Key Takeaways

  • Money orders offer an easy way to exchange funds safely when paying in cash isn’t practical, using a personal check isn’t accepted or desirable, and when a non-digital payment is required.
  • You can get money orders at many places like the post office, most banks, and Western Union outlets at CVS, Walmart, and 7-Eleven stores.
  • There are pros and cons to using money orders.
  • Although money orders are generally inexpensive, they almost always involve a purchase fee, and sometimes a redemption fee for the recipient.
  • Money orders are an attractive tool for fraudsters, so it’s important to check the visual security features on any money order you receive.

When Should I Use a money order ?

In situations where paying with cash, check, or a digital app is n’t ideal—or flush viable—a money ordering might be the best answer. Like a check, money orders are written directly to individuals or companies by name, requiring second and identification to cash them. This makes money orders much more secure than cash, protecting the funds in case of loss or larceny .

money orders played a key role in U.S. history. During the Civil War, thieves would rob post offices and manner of speaking runs to grab cash being sent all over the area. Abraham Lincoln ’ sulfur postmaster general at the fourth dimension came up with a solution : money orders .

Although personal checks offer similar security benefits, money orders have the advantage of being prepaid. Assuming you have a legitimate money rate, accepting it as a mannequin of payment is exempt of risk because the transmitter has already provided the funds .

By contrast, a personal check is accepted in dependable religion that the transmitter ’ s bank report has sufficient funds or overdraft protective covering to cover the check. If not, the payment bounces, and the recipient role is left short—and frequently pays a bank fee on top of that .


  • Safer than cash from larceny or loss
  • Can ’ t bounce like a check for insufficient funds since the amount has been prepaid
  • Cheaper than a bank ‘s attest or cashier ’ s check


  • Requires an in-person visit to a money order dealer
  • Requires you pay a purchase tip, unlike personal checks
  • not allowed for mobile deposit by all banks

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

  • The recipient isn’t comfortable trusting a personal check, due either to a lack of familiarity with the sender or bad past experience with previous payments.
  • The sender doesn’t want to reveal their address or checking account number.
  • It’s crucial to make the payment without any risk of being rejected for insufficient funds.
  • The payer doesn’t have a checking account, and cash isn’t practical.

Certified and cashier ’ mho checks are electric potential alternatives. But banks generally charge higher fees for the add security. And you have to go to a bank during banking hours to obtain them, offering fewer time and location options. then if a money holy order can handle the job, it can be a more elastic and economical choice .

Where You Can Buy Money Orders

once you ’ ve decided on a money order, the next decision is where to pick one up. Though on-line providers are emerging, money orderliness purchases are still largely a newspaper and in-person industry. But it credibly wo n’t be unmanageable to find a money order location near you .

money orders can be bought or redeemed at more than 200,000 locations in the United States, including 31,000 post offices, CVS and Walmart locations, deoxyadenosine monophosphate well as Western Union and MoneyGram outlets inside tens of thousands of 7-Eleven, Publix, Kroger, Meijer, and other retail locations. Most bank and credit union branches besides offer money orders .

Fast Fact

Every money regulate comes with a detachable nub or receipt that allows you to track it after it ‘s delivered or sent. As with any other consumer leverage, you ’ ll be judicious to pay attention to price because not all money order sellers charge like fees. Walmart is one of the cheapest options, charging a maximum of $ 1 per money ordain. The U.S. Postal Service charges either $ 1.45 or $ 1.95 per money order, depending on whether the sum is above or below $ 500 .

price at other locations can vary greatly, so it ’ randomness best to check in advance. For exemplify, going to a trust or credit union where you are a customer could mean you ’ re able to buy money orders for exempt, or you may rather find the price is $ 5 or $ 10 unless you ’ re in the highest discipline report tier .

Another consideration is how many money orders you will need because the rate of each one is typically capped. For case, USPS caps the maximum value of a money order at $ 1,000. so if, for case, you need to pay $ 2,500, you ’ ll need three money orders. here again, knowing the fees in improvement is useful .


The maximal amount in which a one money rate can typically be issued. Be aware that buying a money orderliness with a credit card is treated as a cash promote. then even if a money ordain seller offers to purchase by credit card, we recommend paying with a debit card, cash, or a savings bank account withdrawal to avoid finance charges on your adjacent credit rating poster statement .

Beware of Money Order Scams

One downside of money orders is that they are susceptible to fraud, and have become a common magic trick vehicle for thieves. In reply, money order design has evolved to include a multitude of security and anti-counterfeiting features. From watermarks and security strips to rainbow ink patterns and UV-light features, spirit for the multiple indicators that can tell you whether a money orderliness is legitimate or not .

If person pays you with a money regulate for more than the request come and asks you to pay them back the difference, beware ! This is a common victimize of money holy order fraudsters. If ever in doubt about a money order, note the issuer ( the U.S. Postal Service, Western Union, and MoneyGram are the three biggest ) and inquiry the specific security features it should include. You can besides call the issuer to help determine if the money order is authentic .

How to Cash a Money order

If person pays you with a money regulate, you have two options for converting it into funds. You can cash it in, literally receiving cash at a localization that redeems money orders. Or you can deposit it in your bank account, like a check. Both involve caveats, though .

Converting it to cash offers the quickest access, and if the money order is former determined to be counterfeit or deceitful, you may personally escape that problem .

however, redeeming money orders isn ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate vitamin a commodious as buying them. For exemplify, some convenience stores sell money orders but don ’ metric ton cash them. And while post office locations will cash money orders in theory, if your money order is large and the post office is in a little market, they might not have enough cash on hand to redeem it .

Cashing it in could besides involve a fee. Your best bet is to redeem a money club with the same supplier that issued it. so take a postal service money order to a station office, a Walmart money regulate to Walmart, and so forth. This way, you ’ ll likely avoid any redemption fees. just as with buying money orders, though, it will pay to call ahead to first verify that a localization can honor your redemption, and ask if any fees will apply .

The alternate is to deposit the money order into your bank account, as you would a discipline. This offers the advantage of safely adding the payment to your bank symmetry, quite than walking aside with a boastfully kernel of cash you may not physically want or need .

Be forewarned, though, that depending on your bank, depositing a money order may not be a slowly as depositing a check. Although you may be accustomed to making mobile bank deposits with your smartphone, some banks don ’ t allow electronic deposits of money orders ; rather, they require you to come into a branch. And if your deposit is an online-only institution, it may not accept money order deposits at all .

Whether you decide to turn your money order into cash or take it to your bank, be certain to bring a photograph I.D. with you and don ’ thyroxine endorse the money holy order until you ’ re at the counter with a salesclerk or teller who will accept it.

What’s the Maximum Value Available for a Money Order?

Most issuers set a limit of $ 1,000 for a single money orderliness. For larger amounts, you ‘ll need to get a cashier ‘s crack or buy multiple money orders .

Who Cashes Money Orders?

Most banks accept money orders, adenine good as some grocery store stores, pharmacies, and money transfer services like MoneyGram and Western Union. Be aware that just because a facility issues a money regulate it does n’t mean they will cash one. Check your location ‘s policies before you come .

What Can I Do if a Money Order Is Lost or Stolen?

broadly, money orders are treated as the same as cash. however, they do have a reception attached. Depending on where you purchase your money order, there may be some recourse. Check with the issuing body to find out .

Do Money Orders Expire?

money orders do n’t have exhalation dates per selenium, but if they are older than a year, the issuing soundbox may charge fees to cash them. If they are n’t cashed for many years, they may fall into the unclaimed place class.

The Bottom Line

From their origins as a safe way to transfer money during the Civil War to their stream status as a commodious cock for those without a bank account or a want for certifiable funds, money orders have become a staple. While money orders are fast and convenient, buyers may need to shop around to get the best prices. When receiving a money order, keep in mind that these are fiscal instruments that are considered the lapp as cash. Keep them safe or cash them out a promptly as is feasible .