- A money order is a method of sending money that’s more secure than a personal check or cash.
- To cash a money order, you’ll want to confirm its information, verify that it’s legitimate, find a location, and cash it quickly.
- Bring proper ID when you cash a money order, and expect to pay a fee in most cases.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
If you are receiving a payment from some someone you don’t know – especially through the mail – you might want to consider a money order rather than taking a personal check or cash payment.
“A money order is a method of sending a prepaid amount of money to somebody,” explains Chane Steiner, CEO of Crediful. “It is considered very secure and is an excellent way to send money quickly in situations where a personal check is not appropriate. In some instances, money orders are even preferred to cash in hand.”
However, note that money orders can be cancelled by the sender, making them an appealing tool to be used in scams. The Balance has some tips on verifying your money order, starting with calling the issuer at a number you’ve separately confirmed is legitimate. Also, The Balance recommends cashing a money order directly with the issuer (like Western Union, Moneygram, Walmart, or USPS) if possible, rather than taking it to your bank.
Note that you don’t have to cash a money order – you can also deposit it into a checking account, if you prefer.
How to cash a money order
1. Double check the info on the money order
A money order is the amount is prepaid, so you should know exactly if the money order meets the amount you’re expecting to receive. The first thing to do when you receive a money order is to double-check the amount of the money order to make sure it is correct. Also make sure the name on the money order matches the name on your ID.
As mentioned above, you’ll also want to verify that the money order is legitimate. If you know the sender, this might not be a concern, but if you aren’t completely sure of the person sending it, you’ll want to confirm it is what it’s supposed to be.
2. Research the location where you will cash your money order
Locations include a bank, credit union, grocery store, post office, retail store, or some convenience stores.
Many retail locations have a money transfer outlet like Moneygram or Western Union counter to make the process convenient. Many consumers send money orders from United States Post Office, and a local post office will cash USPS money orders.
Bring your money order to a location that will cash it, and expect to pay a fee for the service. SmartAsset reports that if you go directly to the place that issued your money order (again, that could be a place like Western Union, Moneygram, Walmart, or USPS) you might be able to minimise your fees.
Going directly to the issuer is also a way to verify the money order – if you cash or deposit a money order that turns out to be fake with your bank, reports The Balance, your bank can reverse the transaction.
If you’re cashing with a bank or credit union where you’re an account holder, you might not have to pay fees at all, and you also might be able to skirt the fees by cashing a USPS money order at a USPS location.
3. Plan to cash your money order in a timely fashion
The longer you hold on to the money order, there’s a chance it can be lost, damaged, or misplaced.
Plus, cashing a money order quickly is a way to protect yourself against possible fraud, since the sender can cancel their money order. If you’ve already cashed it with the issuer, they won’t be able to cancel.
4. Make sure you have proper identification with you to cash the money order
This will include a picture ID: a driver’s licence, passport, or other government-issued ID. You will need an ID to cash a money order.
5. Sign the back of your money order to endorse it
Don’t sign the money order in advance; add a signature to the back of the money order when you are at the counter. “Sign your money order only once you are handing it over to be cashed. Signing it beforehand can be risky if it is stolen,” says Steiner.
6. Understand you will need to pay service fees, which will be deducted from the amount you collect
The fees tend to be low – a few dollars, or a percentage of the total.
The Balance has a list of common locations that issue money orders, and their service fees.
7. Put the cash you receive away before you leave the counter, and keep your receipt
Count the money that you receive, and make sure to get and save your receipt.
Put the cash away securely before leaving the location, to keep it safe.
8. Notify the sender that you have successfully cashed their money order
You don’t have to tell them, but you might want to consider updating the sender that your transaction is complete.
- Read more:
- How to get cash from a credit card
- How to increase your credit score
- How to open an Ally high-yield savings account
- How to get a bank loan
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.