How to Cash Money Orders

Sometimes sending cash is too risky, or your recipient requires immediate access to the funds. If you are unable to pay with a debit or credit card, a money order is a low-cost and relatively simple alternative for getting your money where it needs to go. To cash a money order, go to the appropriate location and show proof that you are the intended recipient of the funds.

Method 1 Choosing Where to Cash the Money Order

1. On the money order, look for a logo. A logo or other insignia will indicate which bank or company issued the money order. Look for a line that says “Issuer” in the money order’s upper corners or along the bottom.

A money order can always be cashed at a branch of the bank or company that issued it. If you live near a branch, that might be your best bet.

If the money order was issued by a bank and you don’t have a branch of that bank nearby, you may be able to have it cashed at another bank.

2. Determine the cost. In many cases, the fee is lower at the company or bank that issued the money order than elsewhere – but this is not always the case. You may be able to find the fee online, but some banks require you to call a branch.

It’s always a good idea to ask a nearby branch. Fees for large corporations and banks with multiple branches may vary depending on location.

3. Determine any additional constraints. Some businesses and banks may have a limit on the amount of cash they will accept. Bank of America, for example, will cash a money order for up to $500. Find out this information before going to the location, especially if your money order is for a large sum. 

Call ahead to the specific location you intend to visit, especially in small towns and rural areas. They may not have the cash on hand to cash your money order, especially if it is for more than a couple hundred dollars. Knowing this ahead of time can save you a trip.

4. Determine when you will cash the money order. Some locations, particularly banks, have limited hours for cashing money orders. If you’re limited in terms of when you can go get the money order cashed, your options may be limited as well.

For example, if you can only cash the money order in the evenings, your options may be limited to grocery stores or check cashing establishments. Grocery stores typically charge lower fees than check cashing establishments.

5. Choose a convenient location. There may be several locations in your immediate area depending on where you’ve decided to cash your money order. Choose the one that is most convenient for you and ensure that it will be open when you need it.

You should also identify backup locations in case the one closest to you is unable to cash your money order.

Call ahead if your money order is for a large sum. If they believe they will be unable to cash it, they may be able to refer you to someone who can.

6. Try going to the grocery store. Unless you intend to cash the money order at your own bank, you’ll have the lowest fees and the best chance of having your money order cashed at a grocery store.

Grocery stores typically keep more cash on hand because they do a high volume of business, even in more rural areas.

Even if the grocery store is open 24 hours a day, they may not accept money orders at all times. To be sure, check with the specific location.

7. Take USPS money orders to the post office. If you have a USPS money order, it is usually the cheapest option to take it to a US Post Office and have it cashed. The Post Office does not usually charge a fee to cash a money order that it has issued. 

However, there are some limitations to using the Post Office. Their hours are limited, and if you live in a small town or rural area, the Post Office may not have enough cash to cash your money order – especially if it is for a large sum.

If you have any questions about cashing your money order at that location, call ahead.

8. If the money order is lost or damaged, contact the sender. In most cases, the issuer will replace a money order that hasn’t been cashed as long as the buyer has the original receipt.

Assume you receive a money order that was damaged in transit and is torn. It’s possible that a company or bank will cash it, but you might have to replace it.

If you misplace your money order before it can be cashed, contact both the sender and the bank or company that issued it as soon as possible.

Method 2 Cashing the Money Order

1. Please bring identification. The bank will not cash the money order unless you provide acceptable proof that you are the intended recipient of the funds. The name on the money order must exactly match the name on your identification.

Banks and other businesses that accept money orders will usually accept a driver’s licence, passport, or other valid government-issued photo identification.

Some banks and check-cashing establishments may also require your right thumbprint on the money order in addition to your signature.

2. Please present the money order. Allow the cashier or teller to confirm that they have sufficient funds to cover the face value of your money order. Even if you’ve done your homework and already know how much the fee will be, ask how much it will be.

If they tell you something that contradicts what you already know, inquire about it. As an example, you could say “Are you certain that the fee will be $7? Your website stated that it would only cost $4.”

It’s best not to sign the money order until you’re ready to give it to the cashier. If you’ve already signed it and it ends up in the wrong hands, they could cash it. Furthermore, the location where the money order is cashed may want to compare the signature to the one on your ID.

Most money orders can be deposited if you have a checking or savings account at a bank. However, depending on who issued the money order, you may have to wait a day or two to access the funds.

3. Take your money. You will be paid the face amount of the money order, less any cashing fee. You may have the option of selecting the denominations of the bills you receive.

The cashier or teller will most likely count the money for you, but you should count it yourself to ensure that it is all there.

If you deposited the money order in your bank account, you should be able to get at least some of it back in cash.

Method 3 Getting a Money Order

1. Compile information on the recipient. You will need to know the full legal name and address of the person to whom you are sending money. You may be required to provide additional information depending on the money order issuer you select.

When the money order is cashed, the name on the money order must match the name on the recipient’s ID. Inquire about it, especially if their name has recently changed as a result of marriage or divorce. It’s possible that they didn’t update their ID to reflect the change.

2. Examine the costs. You want to send a money order for the least amount of money possible. Start with your own bank if you have one – they’ll usually have the lowest fee for you because you’re a member.

Avoiding check-cashing stores is generally a good idea. Although they are the most convenient, they usually charge the most.

The hours of operation also play a role. If you can’t get the money order until late at night, for example, you might not be able to use the places with the lowest fees.

3. Locate a convenient location. Once you’ve decided which bank or company you want to use to purchase your money order, you’ll need to find the best location that is open at a time convenient for you.

When you’ve found the exact location, it’s a good idea to call ahead of time to confirm any information you already have. Fees and hours may differ depending on the location, particularly in more rural areas.

4. Get your money order. You must pay the company or bank the face value of the money order plus their fees in order for them to issue a money order. Different payment methods are accepted by different issuers.

In most cases, paying for your money order with cash, personal check, or debit card is your best bet.

Some money order providers accept credit cards for money order purchases, but doing so may incur additional fees from your credit card company. Only use a credit card as a last resort to purchase a money order.

5. Save your receipt. When you buy a money order, you will be given a receipt. It may contain information that allows you to track the money order and confirm when it has been cashed. If the money order is lost or damaged, the receipt will be required to replace it.

Don’t include the receipt with the money order. If the money order is lost or damaged, the receipt is also likely to be lost or damaged, leaving you powerless to act.

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