A money order is used instead of writing checks or cash as a form of payment. It’s a piece of paper similar to a check that allows a person named on the money order to receive the amount printed for cash. They are available and accepted in many places in lieu of cash or checks.
Unlike checks, money orders don’t bounce (be mindful of counterfeits) and ideal for larger purchases.
Where to Get Money Orders
It’s quite convenient to get money orders in many places. Be cautious of online websites that offer to send you money orders by transferring cash into an account. It can be quite risky to do so. When dealing with cash it’s important you trust and know the company selling them. Just stick with local and well-known establishments.
Local banks and credit unions
Many banks and credit unions offer money orders. You’ll need the exact cash amount and the applicable fee to purchase them. At your bank or credit union, they may withdraw the exact amount of the needed including the fee directly from your account. No physical cash would be exchanged.
US Postal Service Office
Head to your USPS office. Call ahead to ask if your post office issues money orders and be prepared to have the cash amount plus the fee. They may accept debit cards.
Many retailers offer money orders usually at the register or customer service area. For example, Walmart, Kroger, and 7-11 are big brand retailers that offer them.
How Much Money Order Costs
Money orders are inexpensive and can be found for under $1 or up to $5. It depends on where you get your money order. You can shop around but the best places are the USPS or Walmart because of accessibility. Using your bank or credit union, the fees may be higher since you have an alternative available such as writing a check or requesting a cashier’s check.
How to Purchase
Now, that you’ve decided where and comfortable with the fees, it’s time to get your money order. You must have the exact cash amount needed for the purchase. In some places, you can use a debit card in lieu of cash.
- Have the payee information: you’ll need to name the payee and the amount to send. Sometimes this is printed on the slip itself but can be written by you.
- Fill out the form: you may be asked to fill out a short form that may require your address and signature.
- Hold onto the receipt: keep the carbon copy for your records.
- Tracking: a tracking number is printed on the copy and you can use it to verify it was received.
If issues arise, you want to contact the place where you got it for assistance.
Use an Alternative
Money orders may be what you need but you do have other options. It’s worth considering an alternative to that may be a simpler and faster form of payment.
Use your checking account. If you don’t have a checking account, consider opening an account with your local bank or credit union. You can also open a checking account with an online-bank and request checks.
Many neobanks (only or mobile) are a good option for a checking account for those who may get denied by a traditional financial institution. These companies also do offer debit cards making it more convenient to pay bills or make online purchases. Discover a checking account alternative in the financial marketplace.