Money orders are about as easy to complete as a personal check. Different outlets use different formats, but they all need the same basic information. Most money orders come from one of three brands: Western Union, MoneyGram, or US Postal Service.
Here’s a step-by-step guide on when to use a money order, where to get one, and how to fill it out correctly.
Key points to remember
- Money Orders are easy to buy and cash, and about as easy to complete as writing a check.
- Fees vary widely, so check ahead. Avoid using a credit card.
- Once you have entered the name of the recipient, the mandate is safe from any misuse.
- If you are paying an invoice, include an account or invoice number to ensure the payment is credited correctly.
- The refund can take up to 30 days or more if you cancel your mandate.
- Money orders are useful for people without a checking account.
When should you use a money order
When you have to pay someone or someone has to pay you, but cash, a personal check, or a smartphone app for whatever reason aren’t good options, a money order can be the answer.
A money order is a piece of paper, but it is safer than cash because it names a specific recipient, who will need to endorse it and present identification to cash it. Money orders are beneficial for people who do not have a checking account or who do not want to accept personal checks. Even if you use checks, you may not want to share the personal information printed on them, such as your address and account number, with specific recipients. Money orders are widely accepted because they are prepaid, eliminating the risk of bounce back.
Certified checks and cashier’s checks issued by financial institutions offer even more security than money orders. However, they come at a much higher cost and require you to visit a bank during business hours, and a money order is a simpler and cheaper option.
Where you can get a warrant
Until now, online money orders are rare and expensive. So, to buy a money order, you usually have to go to a store that sells them and leave with a paper money order in hand.
Fortunately, there are thousands of locations in the United States selling money orders, many of which are open evenings and weekends. You can purchase one at any Walmart, CVS, or 7-Eleven, as well as any of the 31,300 United States Postal Service (USPS) retail offices. Banks, credit unions, grocery chains, and check cashing stores also sell money orders.
The money order limit is $ 1,000, but you can order more than one at a time.
What they cost
Almost all money order purchases involve a fee, so shopping around is wise. Walmart charges $ 1.00 at most locations, and the USPS charges $ 1.30 to $ 1.75 depending on the amount. International prices are significantly higher. For example, the USPS charges at least $ 10.55 plus fees.
Prices at banks, credit unions, and other vendors can be significantly higher. On the other hand, some banks offer them free of charge to certain categories of customers.
Credit card companies typically charge high fees on money order purchases because they treat them like cash advances. You could also accumulate interest charges, so avoid this option if possible.
What information do you need to complete a mandate
First of all, you will need to know the exact amount you want. This will be machine printed directly on the mandate and you will not be able to modify it afterwards. You must also know the name of the person or company to whom you will establish the mandate. Be specific, or the recipient may have trouble taking it.
If you are paying a business, add the account or invoice number to ensure the payment is credited to you appropriately. You can fill in this information later, but a blank money order (as long as the cash amount is on it) is as good as cash if lost or stolen.
Also bring a debit card or cash to pay for your money order, unless you are at your bank and can withdraw it from your account.
If you forget to put the recipient’s name on your money order and then lose it, anyone can cash it, it’s basically found money.
How to complete a money order
The US Postal Service has its own brand and money order format, as do some banks and credit unions. Other sellers usually carry one of the following two brands: MoneyGram is sold in all Walmart and CVS stores, while Western Union is sold in 7-Eleven, some grocery chains, and check-cashing stores. . Whichever type you get, the seller will print the date and amount and then give you the incomplete money order to finalize by hand.
There are only three pieces of information that you will be asked to provide to complete any postal order: the recipient’s proper name, your address and your name or signature. Money orders ask for your address so that the recipient can contact you in the event of a problem. If you are uncomfortable sharing this information, there is nothing preventing you from leaving this field blank or entering your email address or cell phone number instead.
A mandatory field on any money order is an indication of the sender. On most money orders, your signature is required, just like signing a check. But on USPS money orders, the blank is only labeled “From”. Whether you write or sign your name is up to you. An optional field on most mandates can be very useful. On Western Union money orders, it is called “Payment for / Account number”. On USPS money orders, it is labeled “memo”. This is where you can enter an account number if your money order pays an invoice. Or you can use the space for any other information, just like you would use the memo field on a check.
USPS Money Orders provide additional space for the recipient’s address. On MoneyGram and Western Union orders, only your address is required. MoneyGram Money Orders are confusing. White says “Address,” with no clue as to whether your or the recipient’s address is desired, and it means the sender’s address.
You will need to provide valid ID to purchase or cash a money order.
How to deliver a money order
Once you’ve completed all of the fields, be sure to tear off the receipt. This stub provides the official money order identification number, and you can use it to find out if the money order has been cashed, and it is also a record of your payment.
Now that you have a completed Money Order and receipt, you can safely deliver the Money Order or mail it to your recipient. Only the recipient can cash it.
Mistakes to avoid
Although a money order is apparently simple and straightforward to use, there are some mistakes to avoid when using a money order. Most importantly, make sure you spell the recipient and recipient names correctly and complete all parts of the order. If you forget to fill in something or misspell a name, it can cancel the order. Never leave anything on the order blank, and remember to keep your receipt for the transaction.
Also, don’t forget to look for the lowest fees for a money order.
Advantages and disadvantages of money orders
One obvious advantage of using a money order is its simplicity. You can walk into a big box or even your local grocery store and walk out with a money order. You also don’t need to have a checking account to purchase a money order, and they’re easy to complete.
The downsides are minimal, but they may be enough to dissuade you from using one. First of all, you have to pay a fee to purchase a money order, which you don’t have to do when using a check. If you lose a money order and it is not completed correctly, it can be easily stolen. The $ 1,000 cap on money orders means you can’t use them for larger purchases or payments. You will need to purchase more than one, and each order has an additional charge.
It’s easy to find a place to buy a money order.
You do not need a checking account to buy or cash a money order.
Only the recipient can cash the money order.
A money order can only be used up to $ 1,000.
If you lose or need to cancel your money order, the refund can take up to 30 days or more.
If you forget to put the recipient’s name on the order and lose it, anyone can cash it.
How to cancel or replace a mandate
If you need to cancel or replace a money order, immediately contact the entity that issued it to you and they will ask you to complete a cancellation request form. Always make sure you keep your receipt and be prepared to show it. You will also have to pay a fee for a canceled money order. When you complete a cancellation request, you can request a replacement money order or a cash refund.
According to Experian, it can take up to 30 days or more for a refund or replacement, so you’ll have to be prepared to wait. If the matter is urgent, you will need to purchase another money order.
Alternatives to mandates
There are many alternatives to warrants. You can use apps like Venmo and PayPal to send money all at once, and many banks, like Chase, use Zelle to transfer money directly from your checking account. You can also write a personal check, free of charge and with more protection, in case of loss or theft of the check.
The bottom line
For less than $ 1,000, Money Orders can be an easy way to buy something, pay a bill, or pay off a personal debt. You can buy a money order for a small fee at convenience stores, money order companies, big box stores, and some credit unions and banks. There are downsides to using money orders such as a limited amount of money on each order, a fee, and a waiting period of 30 days or more for a refund on a canceled money order.
What address do you put on a money order?
Usually, you must include both your address and the recipient’s address on a money order.
Do you have to sign a money order?
Yes. You must write your signature on a money order.
What happens if you fill out a money order incorrectly?
Unfortunately, if you make a mistake, it is difficult to correct. For example, if you write the wrong payee name or misspell it, you’ll need to request a refund, which could take 30 days, according to Western Union.
Can a blank money order be cashed?
Yes. If someone finds a blank money order with an amount specified on it, in theory they could fill it out and cash it. If you find a blank money order with no cash value, you cannot cash it.
Can anyone cash a money order?
Anyone can cash a money order, as long as it is in their name and they have valid identification.