Best Places To Get a Money Order In 2020
Checks, bank transfers and credit cards are by far the most common ways to pay bills. But, the lowly money order has a lot going for it – even if it seems primitive and stone age in today’s fast pace. There are instances and circumstances where they can be the best option to pay someone. Now, you might be thinking to yourself – why would anyone want to use a money order, can I even get a money order near me? Below, your questions will be answered. More importantly, it will help you make a smart, informed choice about where to buy money orders – and help you spend less. Think of money order as a check, only better. You pay money to a business upfront, and they provide you with a document, guaranteed for a specific amount of money.
You can give it to a person or business as a form of payment. Money orders are similar to personal checks, only a lot less risky – to you and the person you want to pay. When you buy one from an institution, you even fill it out like you do a check. You write in the name of the recipient, as well as your name. The institution then gives you a receipt with a tracking number that follows the document until it is all settled and cashed out. If it becomes lost, the tracking number helps you to cancel to old Order, and issue a new one instead. Actually, it is a pretty efficient system and is much better than cash – particularly if you want proof of payment,
It is difficult to compete with the lightning speed of electronic payments via online banking, credit and debit cards. Money orders have become an almost forgotten payment method. Most are unaware of the fact that they’re still commonly used by millions of people. If you’ve never used a money order, and you can’t even think of why you ever should, it’s an option you may want to explore. There are certain times when a money order can be the preferred method of payment.
What is a Money Order
A money order is a financial document similar to a check. It is also used for making payments, but there are some key differences between the two methods. Money orders are prepaid financial instruments. They will only be issued after the buyer pays for the money order – in advance. That payment can be made in cash, by debit card, traveler’s checks, or another form of guaranteed funds. Checks are issued first, but the funds are not deducted from your account until the check is cashed by the recipient.
Why Use a Money Order
There are a number of different reasons you might want to purchase a money order. You can use it to pay an individual person or to pay a company, just like a check. But, you might choose a money order for privacy, because you don’t want to use a personal check. Or, you might want to pay someone, but you don’t have a checking account. One of the attractive features is that it gives you a receipt to show that you paid. This can be important and is a key advantage over using cash. For example, this makes for a great way to issue or collect payment on a used vehicle. The buyer doesn’t have to withdraw a large amount of cash, and the seller can avoid the risk of payment by accepting a personal check. Here are some additional reasons to consider:
Advantages of a Money Order
- Privacy – Anyone can get a money order and no bank account is required. Imagine paying a person or company you don’t entirely trust. So, you don’t want to share your personal information. How can you make sure the payment is made, without sharing personal details like bank location, account number and such? Checks include that kind of information, money orders don’t.
- Guaranteed Funds – Since money orders are prepaid, the recipient does not have to worry about a bounced check. Sufficient funds are guaranteed. A money order is issued with NO bank information on it. It is also backed by a 3rd party issuer like Western Union or MoneyGram. To get a money order issued, cash is paid in advance or the money is taken directly out of your bank account.
- Theft Protection – Money orders are a safe way to send funds to your friends or family through the mail. Yes, it is safe to mail a money order. The name of the recipient is listed on the face of a money order. It is very difficult to alter this information, making it equally difficult to steal your money.
- Safety – If you don’t have a checking account yet but want to pay for a larger purchase, what can you do? You don’t want to carry around a lot of cash, that can be a bad idea. Also, you want a receipt as proof of purchase.
- Traceability – When you buy a money order you’re given a receipt with all the pertinent information on it to trace it if it is lost before it is cashed out. Unlike cash, if a money order is lost or stolen, it can be cancelled and replaced.
Or, You Don’t Have a Bank Account
How do you pay important bills when you don’t have a bank account? According to the FDIC 8.4 million households have no bank relationship. The FDIC refers to these households as un-banked. An even larger number of households – 24.2 million, are considered under–banked. These people do not have full access to mainstream financial services and products typically offered by retail banks. As a result, they are deprived of banking services such as credit cards or loans. These are people who have a bank account, but make extensive use of non-bank financial services. Together, the un-banked and under-banked represent about 25% of all households. These individuals require a method of payment that is safer than using cash, and still provides proof of payment. Money orders are a convenient substitute for checks and electronic payments.
Or, to Avoid the Risk of Disclosing Personal Information
What happens when you want to make a payment, but you don’t want to disclose any personal information? For example, when you write a check, your personal information is printed right on the face of the check. The check includes your name, the name of your bank, the bank routing number, and your personal account number. That is all valuable information a potential thief would like to have to steal your identity. Credit cards area convenient and secure way to make a payment. But, they also carry the risk of identity theft. The possibility exists that your name and credit card account number could fall into the wrong hands as well. A money order, on the other hand, enables you to make payment in a legally acceptable way. But, without the need to disclose any personal information.
How Do Money Orders Work
Only a few companies actually produce money orders, but many more places sell them. The three most well-known sources that produce money orders are Money Gram, Western Union and the United States Postal Service.
Money orders work much the same way checks do. The main difference is that while a check is drawn on a bank account, a money order is essentially funded in advance. But in most other respects, it works the same way. You make a money order payable to an individual or a company, who will then need to endorse the document for payment. If the amount you need to pay is greater than $1,000, just purchase more than one Order. From a recipient’s standpoint, a money order has the advantage that it’s fully funded. That is, it’s nearly as good as cash. This is unlike a check, which can bounce if the issuer’s account has insufficient funds. Also, money orders are relatively cheap. They can cost as little as $.50-$1, depending on where they’re purchased.
As for payment, the buyer needs to purchase them using cash, a debit or credit card. Personal checks are not acceptable as the funds are not guaranteed. If you use a credit card to purchase of a money order it may be treated as a cash advance. Most credit cards charge a cash advance fee, as well as a higher interest rate on the amount advanced. But before purchasing a money order to make a payment, first be certain the recipient will accept it. Not all merchants will accept money orders, particularly for online transactions.
How Much do Money Orders Cost?
Different retailers charge different amounts. Some charge a flat fee; others charge a percentage of the amount you want the money order for. You may even find some banks that offer money orders for free, but generally, you’ll be charged for them.
Fees currently range from $0.50 cents all the way up to $6.00 or more. In some instances, the retailer may charge a percentage of the amount you purchase. Money orders are typically capped at $1,000. If you need a money order for more than that, you will need to purchase more than one. Be aware that each one you purchase is subject to a purchasing fee.
How to get a Money Order
The US Postal System produces the greatest number of money orders. Aside from the USPS, there are only a few companies that produce them. The two main companies that generate money orders are Western Union and MoneyGram. However, both of these companies allow their Orders to be issued at various other locations. As a result, there are many convenient places where you can actually purchase one.
How do I Pay for a Money Order?
Most places that sell money orders only accept cash or debit cards to pay for them. Personal checks are not generally accepted as a form of payment. It may be possible to use a credit card, but most credit card companies view money orders as a cash advance. And, cash advances on a credit card almost always carry additional fees. In any event, credit cards are often not allowed. Check with the store that sells them to get specific information on what payment types they accept. Businesses that issue and/or cash them require some type of ID. You will need a government-issued photo ID to complete the transaction. Although there are no restrictions to buy them, the institution needs a photo ID to verify your identity when you cash one.
13 Best Places to get a Money Order Near Me
You can buy a money order at your local 7-Eleven if you live near a store. The chain has outlets in over 30 states with 8,500 locations in the U.S. According to their website, money orders are offered as part of 7-Eleven’s Financial Services. Buying one will cost 1-3% of the total amount with a minimum fee of $.65 cents. 7-Eleven uses both MoneyGram and Western Union. It just depends on where the store is located. Also, keep in mind they only sell money orders – you can’t cash one.
Check Cashing Companies
Check cashing stores should be low on your list of options. Their fees are typically very high. Below are several of the larger national check cashing companies. Most cities have other, independent check cashing companies as well. Local companies may charge slightly lower fees. However, always check and do your research prior to buying. If they charge more than several dollars or a percentage of the total, you should quickly consider buying somewhere else.
- ACE Cash Express
- Advance America
- Check ‘n Go
- Payday Express
- Speedy Cash
Pharmacy stores like CVS also issue money orders. The pharmacy giant specializes in over-the-counter and prescription medications. But, they offer limited financial services as well. There are over 9,900 CVS locations, which means that you are never too far from one. CVS uses MoneyGram money orders and charges $1.25 per money order. The maximum money order amount offered by CVS is $500.
Grocery stores are an excellent option for cheap money orders. At a local grocery store, you can often find them offered at a cost of only $.50 with a cap of $1,000 dollars. Below are several stores that sell them, and what you can expect to pay. Of course, costs vary from store to store. Visit the customer service area of the store and ask for details first.
- Kroger– Western Union, $1,000 limit, $.70 per MO
- Meijer– Western Union, $1,000 limit, $.65 per MO
- Publix– Western Union, $500 limit, $.85 per MO
- Vons– MoneyGram, $500 limit, $.89 per MO
Kmart may be struggling, but it remains one of the places you can expect to find financial services. Although they’re closing stores, there are still around 700 Kmart locations around the county. Not all Kmart locations sell money orders, so it’s important to contact your local store before visiting. Kmart uses Western Union and charges from $.69 cents to $1.25 each, depending on location. Their maximum limit is $500 – but you can always purchase more than one if you need a larger amount.
Kroger has over 2,700 stores across the U.S. which operate under several brand names, such as King Soopers, Smith’s, Cala Foods, Fred Meyer, Dillon’s and others. You can purchase Western Union money orders at Kroger’s, which cost roughly $.70 cents per order. As always, fees can vary by location and subsidiary. Some locations may not sell them at all. The maximum amount can be $1,000 – again, depending on the location.
This is probably one of the most obvious places for buying money orders. Some banks may offer them to account holders as a courtest at no charge. This is becoming quite rare, but if this is the case at your bank, then it is your best option. However, at most banks, you will most likely have to pay a few dollars. Which is more than at a grocery store. When you just need one every so often, then the convenience may justify the extra few dollars. If it becomes a regular purchase for you, then there are cheaper options you should consider. The advantage of using a bank comes into play if an Order is ever lost or stolen. A bank issued money order is easier to track, cancel and receive reimbursement in the event the Order it is lost.
If you don’t have a bank account, some banks might sell to non-customers. But, be prepared to pay even higher fees if you do not have an account there. Also, each bank will have different regulations and fees for redeeming and selling. Be sure to get in touch with your local bank for more information, or look it up online before you just show up.
Local Credit Union
Your local credit union may also be a good option. Make sure to check about the cost upfront. Like banks, some credit unions may charge you while others offer money orders for free as a courtesy. One of the benefits of using a bank or credit union is that you’ll probably find that tracking and reimbursement is easier if it is ever lost or stolen.
As stated above, several grocery stores sell money orders. Meijer is one of the more inexpensive options. The company has over 240 stores, with most locations in Michigan, Ohio, and Indiana. They use Western Union, and you can expect to pay only $.65 cents per Order. Their maximum amount, like in many other grocery outlets is $500. Unlike Walmart, Meijer will not cash money orders at any of its locations.
Publix is another option. They have over 1,230 stores across Florida, Alabama, Tennessee, Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina. They use Western Union money orders with a $500 limit and the cost is $.85 cents. If you’re looking to cash money orders, Publix doesn’t offer this service – they only issue them.
You can get a money order at your local Rite-Aid drugstore. The cost is $.99 cents. They use Western Union with a maximum cap amount of $500. Like Publix, Rite-Aid only issues them – they won’t cash them there.
US Postal Service – USPS
United States Postal Service (USPS) also sell money orders. With over 30,800 post office locations in the U.S., it’s probably one of the most convenient locations to consider. The USPS doesn’t need to use Western Union, or MoneyGram. They produce and issue their own unique documents. USPS Orders up to $500 cost $1.20. Orders over $500 and up to $1000 cost $1.65. USPS Orders are mid-range in price, but you can’t beat the convenience – or the trust factor. Also, Postal Military Money Orders are only $.45 cents.
At USPS, you can also cash USPS issued money orders. But, rules and regulations as well as fees differ by location and state. If you purchase them regularly, it is worth your while to check and see what rates and rules apply at the local post office. If you need to mail your money order too, your local post office is a great option to do everything at once.
Walmart is another retailer where you can get money orders. Aside from the Postal Service, it is probably the most convenient option. Did you know that 90% of Americans live within 15 minutes of a Walmart Store? There are over 5,000 stores throughout the United States according to Walmart’s website. Also, Walmart offers one of the most competitive options in terms of price. Most stores have a Money Center – a kiosk or counter for check cashing. That’s where you can also buy money orders. Walmart issues Orders from MoneyGram. You will pay a small handling fee of $.70 cents per Order. The limit from Walmart is $1,000 maximum – which is higher than that offered by 7-Eleven. You can also cash MoneyGram Orders at Walmart if they were issued there. Just make sure you bring a government issued photo ID. Cashing a money order costs between $3 and $6.
What if I Lose a Money Order?
Sometimes people buy a money order and then lose it. Most places that sell money orders have a system in place to cancel and replace an Order that is lost. Of course, you’ll probably be charged a fee to get a replacement. Before you buy, you should check with individual locations about their replacement policies and procedures. But, in general, there are 2 possible scenarios. Either, you purchased the money order, but lost it before giving it to the recipient. Or, someone else gave it to you as payment and you lost it before you could cash it.
You Purchased the Money Order and Lost it Before Giving it for Payment
If the money order has not been cashed, you want to cancel it IMMEDIATELY! First, contact the issuer and explain the situation to them. This is where it is important to KEEP YOUR RECEIPT. All the information you need to cancel it or track to see if it has been cashed will be on that receipt. You are typically asked to fill out a cancellation request form. So, be sure to attached a copy of your receipt to it. The issuer will give you specific instructions on where to return the form. And, of course, you will be hit with a cancellation fee. Cancellation fees vary from $6 all the way up to $20 or more, depending on where the Order was purchased.
You should be given options, like getting a refund for the Order amount, or having a replacement issued. It can take 1-2 months for your cancellation request to be processed. If you DON’T have your receipt, it will just make the process take longer and cost you more in fees – upwards of $30 and 3 months to get your Order cancelled. If the issuer comes back and tells you that the money order was cashed, you are out of luck on a refund. However, you can, and should, take the evidence to the local authorities so they can investigate.
You Received an Order as Payment from Someone Else then Lost it
Contact the person who gave you the money order and get a copy of the receipt if you can. Next, contact the issuer. They will help you through the process of cancelling the lost Order and getting your cash. The lesson here is to cash or deposit your money order as soon as possible.
Keep That Receipt
The last thing you want to do is lose a money order. But, if it happens, that tracking number is what institutions use to follow and track their Orders. So, if you DO lose a money order, go to the Business where you purchased it and give them all of you paperwork. Assuming it has not been cashed, they can make things right for you. Yes, there will be fees and inconvenience for this, but it’s better than losing all of your money.
How do I Know if a Money Order I Receive is Legit?
It is possible for a potential thief to buy a money order for $1, then try to tamper with it to make the amount larger. Or, they can create a completely fake money order and try to pass if off as real. Whenever you are given a money order as payment, there are 2 important things to inspect.
Check the Dollar Amount
Does the dollar amount on the money order look normal? Or does it appear to be fuzzy, smeared or discolored? If the number amount doesn’t look quite right, then there’s a chance someone tried to erase the number and replace it with a different, larger number. Also, if the amount is over $1,000 it’s cause for immediate suspicion. Most domestic money orders have a maximum value of $1,000. International money orders usually have a maximum value of $700.
Examine the Paper
Hold the money order to a light, or at an angle, and check for a watermark. If you don’t see a watermark, you should not accept it for payment.
- USPS money orders have a watermark of Ben Franklin on the left side.
- MoneyGram has a “logo” watermark on it as well as a heat-sensitive stop-sign that changes color when you put your finger over it.
- Western Union also uses a watermark, as well as ink that will run or smear if the Order is tampered with.
If you accept a money and then suspect a fake, call the company that issued it before trying to cash it. The legitimacy of money orders you receive can be a concern. Just as with real cash or with checks, there are scammers everywhere. If you ever have a doubt about the legitimacy of a money order you receive, call the issuing company for verification.
- Western Union: 1-800-325-6000
- Money Gram: 1-800-666-3947
- USPS Verification System: 1-866-459-7822rbs
Where To Cash My Money Order Near Me?
When cashing a money order you will have to show a valid, government issued photo I.D. – like a driver’s license or passport. You will be required to endorse it with your signature, and likely pay a small fee before you get your cash. Just because a business sells money orders, that does not mean they will cash them. Some do, some don’t. Below are your best options if you are looking to cash a money order near you:
- Bank or Credit Union – Take the money order to a bank or credit union where you already have an account. Then, you can either request cash or deposit the money directly into your account.
- Post Office – If you have a USPS money order you can take it to your local post office and cash it there.
- Grocery Stores – Some grocery stores will cash it. Call ahead or visit the customer service desk to find out.
- Retail Stores – Many retail stores will cash a money order, but often times, only if it was created at their store. For example, Walmart will cash money orders, but only if the Order originated from a Walmart location.
- Check Cashing Business – Most will be able to cash your money order for you. But, these establishments are notorious for charging the highest fees.
It’s best to verify a retailer cashes money orders before visiting their store. You may want to ask what they charge as well to minimize costs. Many establishments will cash the ones they issue. Banks and grocery stores are also good options.
Are There Alternatives to Money Orders?
There may be better financial instruments than money orders for making payments. It depends on your particular situation and what you want to accomplish. Money orders can usually get the job done, but they cost money to buy, and you have to purchase them in person. If a seller or recipient requires you to use a money order, you don’t have any choice. But if you have the option to pay another way, it’s worth considering.
Cashier’s checks and money orders share a few similarities. The main attraction to a cashier’s check is that it is guaranteed by a third party. A money order is guaranteed only by the cash you used to purchase it. However, a cashier’s check is guaranteed by the bank that issues it, and provides added legitimacy. Below are a few pros and cons of both money orders vs. cashier’s checks.
Money Order – is convenient, more secure than cash, and comes at a pretty low cost. However, there are limits of $500-$1,000, and there is a potential for tampering and fraud.
Cashier’s Check – is more secure than a money order, and good for larger purchases. However, they are not as convenient or as available, and there is a higher cost to purchase one.
Both financial instruments serve a purpose. If you don’t have a bank account, need to make small, recurring payments each month, a money order is a good choice. However, if you have a bank account and are making a large, one-time purchase, a cashier’s check might be your better option.
Evaluate whether it’s worth opening a checking account. Many banks and credit unions offer free checking, so you won’t necessarily have to pay fees. Even if you end up paying modest charges, a bank account can still save you significant time and money over paying fees and waiting in line to buy money orders. However, because of the personal information printed on a check, it will not offer quite the same level of privacy.
Prepaid Credit Cards
If using a bank is not your preferred option, or if you would rather not to work with a banks, prepaid cards offer some of the same features as checking accounts. Prepaid cards are usually associated with major card networks , like Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Discover. As a result, they can be used anywhere debit cards can. You can conveniently use them to buy groceries, put gas in your car, even pay bills online – without the need to pay bank fees or get approval. A prepaid card might mean you need to buy fewer money orders in the future to settle your bills.
Know Where to get a Money Order – Final Words
If you don’t want to pay for something by check or cash, consider using money orders to pay for it. You can conveniently use them to pay rent, utilities and other bills. The key advantage is because it gives you proof of payment. Also, they are trackable in the event you lose one or an Order is stolen.
To sum up, money orders are an excellent way to pay for things – your bills, rent, or utilities. They give you the privacy of cash without the risk if lost or stolen. They also come in handy if you’re looking for a safe way to send money to your family or friends. Or, pay someone you don’t want to share your personal details with. While several companies offer money orders, be smart, and pick the one that’s the most suitable for you. There are plenty of cheap options. Buying one is simple and should not cost more than $1 or $2. If you don’t have a bank account or need an easy way to have a trackable payment, money orders are a good tool to use.
Summary – Money Order Pros and Cons
- Acceptance – They’re a commonly accepted method of payment, and often preferred over checks.
- Cheap – They’re usually less expensive than bank issued checks, like certified or cashier’s checks.
- Reliable – Because you pay for a money order before it’s issued, there’s no chance it will bounce. That will provide higher assurance to you if you’re receiving a money order, and to a party you’re sending one to.
- Safe – They’re safer than carrying cash.
- Can be Mailed – If you don’t have a checking account, money orders can be sent through the mail. Cash cannot.
- Money orders are accepted in many cases, but they are not accepted everywhere.
- Slow – Face it, they’re much slower than online payments.
- They can’t be used to make online purchases.
- Time–consuming – You need to personally visit an outlet to make a purchase. Often, you will wait in line each time you need to buy one.
- Safer than Cash, but... – While generally safer than cash or checks, they are susceptible to fraud.
- Fees – You have to pay a fee each time you purchase one. Many banks don’t charge a fee for either checks or online payments- particularly when you maintain a minimum balance.