How to Get a Money Order

You’re probably thinking that money orders are a thing of the past. However, you should change that mentality because there are many benefits to money orders. Check it out!

Sure, getting a money order these days may seem old fashioned considering we live in a world where money has become mostly digital, app-based and in the form of credit cards. However, they do still have their uses and can be extremely beneficial.

In fact, there are times where a money order is required to make a purchase. Money orders can be used for down payments for things like renting an apartment or other larger purchases. Also you can use a money order for those times where you’re sending money in the mail, sending money internationally or you don’t have a checking account and need to pay bills.

Find Out Where to Get Your Money Order

The first step in getting a money order is to find out where to get one. Money orders can be obtained at certain locations like retail stores, convenience stores, banks, credit unions, the U.S. post office and even at some supermarkets and drugstores.  You might not have known that you can get a money order at all of these various places, but it makes running errands all the more convenient.

You can technically get a money order from online retailers, but it’s not recommended. Get a money order from a place that you trust. When dealing with money in general, it’s best to get things done in person whenever you can.

Going to the U.S. postal office to get your money order is a good choice as their money orders are used around the world. Be sure to call your local post office ahead of time to see if they do issue money orders. Not every one offers this service. Knowing the post office, you could also find yourself waiting in line when getting a money order.

When scouting out where you’ll be getting your money order, the next thing you’ll need to consider is what the fees will be from the issuer. The costs vary from location to location.

The Associated Money Order Fees

Unfortunately, money orders aren’t without their fees. The fees will vary depending on where you go to get your money order. In general, banks will have the highest fees where retail stores will have the lowest. You can expect to pay anywhere between $1 to $10 for your money order.

Money orders can also have issue amount limits. Depending on the location, the limits can differ greatly. If you need a high amount for a money order, you may have to split it up between a few different money orders to meet your amount. This means you’ll be paying fees on each money order that’s being issued to you. The downside is that the fees aren’t waived if there’s a limit and you’re buying more than one.

That’s why it’s important to do your research when it comes to the fees at each location. Banks are going to be more expensive, even if you do have an account there. Banks tend to specialize in cashier’s checks, which differ in the amount they offer. Cashier’s checks deal in larger amounts, whereas money orders are essentially prepaid slips of paper and tend to be smaller amounts.

Grocery stores, big-name stores, corner pharmacies like Walgreens and convenience stores can all issue money orders and usually don’t have very expensive fees. Typically, you can expect to pay about a buck in fees for your money order. Stopping by one of these stores when you’re already out and about is more than convenient, but also one of the cheaper options for money orders.

What You’ll Need to Buy Your Money Order

You’re essentially purchasing money. The question is: what do you need to make this transaction? To buy a money order, you’ll need to pay with cash or a debit card. The point of a money order is guaranteed money, so you can’t just use a credit card or issue a personal check for this type of transaction - it would defeat the purpose of a money order. There would be no way for issuers to know if your check would bounce, if you’ll file a chargeback or if something else could go awry. The money needs to be upfront in the form of cash or a debit card payment.

There are some issuers that’ll claim that you can use a credit card to buy a money order from them, but that’s not entirely true. The truth is that if you use a credit card, you’re really just getting a cash advance on your card. Cash advances are an expensive method of borrowing, and ultimately, you’ll be slapped with heavy fees. Your credit card charge you high interest rates on the balances of the cash advances. You’ll want to avoid paying for a money order with a credit card at all costs. In fact, avoid issuers who try to trick you into doing so.

You’ll want to know the basic information for your money order. Who are you making the money order payable to? When issuing a money order, the specific name of the person or organization will need to be known up front when you’re making the purchase for this transaction. Know this information beforehand because it will make for a speedier process.

Finally, get a receipt for your money order. If you’re mailing your money order through USPS, ask for tracking, and be sure to keep that with the receipt in a safe place until its delivery has been confirmed. If you decide to cancel the money order for whatever reason, you’ll need the receipt. Also, if the money order should go missing, the receipt will be required for confirmation and refunding purposes.

Alternative Methods of Payment

Aside from money orders, there are a few other ways to pay that have the same “guaranteed” money. Money orders can be a hassle if you aren’t near a location that issues them, or if the only one close by that does happens to have the highest fees. You could issue a check from a checking account - banks and credit unions usually don’t have fees associated with their free checking, and a check is more secure than other methods of payments. Prepaid cards are another alternative, and with the money already loaded on the card, there’s no fear about insufficient funds.