Filling out a money order is similar to filling out a personal check. You’ll need the recipient’s information, the payment value and your own signature to validate the form.
Although the use of money orders has fallen out of style with the rise of mobile banking and cash payment apps, millions of dollars’ worth of money orders are still processed through the Federal Reserve each year, making them a viable form of payment.
If you’re interested in money orders but have never filled one out, you’ve come to the right place. This GOBankingRates guide will cover:
- Steps To Filling Out a Money Order
- How To Check If a Money Order Has Been Cashed
- Should I Use a Money Order?
- How To Replace a Lost or Stolen Money Order
- How To Check If a Money Order Is Fake
- Filling Out a Money Order: A Useful Alternative to a Check
Filling out money orders is easy and requires only a few simple steps. As with any official financial document, you will need to correctly fill out the form in order to ensure the safe passage of your funds to the recipient.
Because you pay for the money order prior to receiving it, the dollar amount will already be included on the document. Ensure it is the correct amount.
You can purchase a money order from:
- Your local bank or credit union
- The post office, courtesy of the United States Postal Service
- Financial centers such as Western Union and MoneyGram
- Vendors such as Walmart and 7-Eleven
And a gentle reminder to those with scratchy penmanship: Fill out the order as neatly as possible.
Here’s exactly what you need to do to complete a money order:
1. Prepare the Funds
You’ll need the cash upfront to purchase a money order. This ensures a guaranteed payment to the recipient.
2. Fill In the Recipient’s Name
To fill out a money order, the first thing you’ll want to do is to identify who’s receiving it. This is listed on the form as “Pay To the Order Of” or something similar. A payee can also be a company if you’re paying a bill or a debt.
3. Fill In the Purchaser’s Address
You are the purchaser of the money order. This could be labeled as “From,” “Sender” or “Remitter.” This should be filled out in case the recipient requires more information about the money order. To allay privacy concerns, some vendors might only have a field for your name instead of both your name and address, according to Western Union.
4. Include Any Additional Information
When paying a bill, include the account number for the service. Some money orders have a memo section where you can include any relevant contextual notes.
5. Sign the Money Order
Sign the front of the money order on the designated line. Do not sign the back of the order, as that is where the recipient needs to sign to endorse it.
6. Keep the Receipt
Every money order comes with a detachable receipt. You’ll need the receipt to track your money order because it provides you with the serial number needed to find it.
Also Check Out: How To Write a Check
You’ve filled out your money order and sent it out. Now what? If you want to see if your money order has been cashed, you can do that in a number of ways depending on the provider of the order.
First, you will need your money order receipt. Whatever provider you choose will use the serial number printed on the receipt to find the order. MoneyGram has a Money Order Status page that allows you to monitor the journey of your money order, as does the USPS. You will need to provide the money order serial number — the 10- or 11-digit number found on the bottom left corner of the money order — and the dollar amount to check your status.
Providers usually have a phone number you can call to track your money order as well. For Walmart, it’s 800-542-3590, and for MoneyGram, it’s 800-542-3590.
Customers without a bank account, or who want to keep their bank account information hidden, should consider buying a money order.
Money orders offer customers an alternative means to make payments if they don’t have a bank account, as they can be purchased with cash, or even traveler’s checks or a debit card. And because money orders don’t use checking accounts, your account information isn’t printed on the document like it is on a check. This provides a layer of security for customers who desire banking privacy. Plus, you can still monitor money orders with the serial number provided. Some payees might even prefer to receive payments via money order because the value is guaranteed.
But there are still some limitations to watch out for. Single money orders are generally limited to $1,000. Anyone purchasing money orders totaling $3,000 or more must fill out a PS Form 8105-A, Funds Transaction Report, so this is not recommended for large purchases.
Note that money orders also carry processing fees, though these are pretty low. Walmart generally charges less than $1 for a money order, but the price varies by location, according to its website. USPS money orders can cost up to $1.70 depending on the amount ordered. You can also send money orders internationally, but the fees are much higher, with the USPS listing its international fee as $9.50.
You’ll also need to keep the receipt in case your money order is lost or stolen, in which case you’ll complete the request form included on the back of the receipt and send in a $15 nonrefundable processing fee. In the event you have lost the receipt, fear not — you can still complete a research request form, but this will require a $30 processing fee.
What if your lost or stolen money order mysteriously reappears? The USPS gives the following tips for identifying a fraudulent money order:
- Dollar value is discolored or looks doctored
- Dollar value exceeds $1,000
- Benjamin Franklin watermark fails to match top and bottom
- Colored thread with “USPS” not set to the right of the Benjamin Franklin watermark
- Paper feels weird
The USPS recommends you call the Money Order Inspection system at 877-876-2455 if you think you’ve been duped.
Check Out: Places To Get a Money Order
Money orders make for useful purchasing instruments, although they won’t be for everyone. As previously noted, money orders make the most sense for people who do not have a checking account because the orders can be purchased from multiple vendors in cash. But even if you have traditional checking, money orders are still worth looking into for the security and guaranteed payment they afford customers.
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