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- A money order is a method of sending money that’s more secure than a personal check or cash.
- To cash a money order, you’ll want to confirm the amount that’s been sent, verify that it’s legitimate, find a location, and cash it quickly.
- Bring proper ID when you cash a money order, and expect to pay a fee in most cases.
If you’re receiving a payment from someone you don’t know — especially through the mail — you might want to consider a money order rather than taking a personal check or cash payment.
“A money order is a method of sending a prepaid amount of money to somebody,” explains Chane Steiner, chief executive officer of Crediful. “It’s considered very secure and is an excellent way to send money quickly in situations where a personal check is not appropriate. In some instances, money orders are even preferred to cash in hand.”
Here’s how to cash a money order quickly and securely. The best banks also allow you to deposit money in a bank account if you prefer. Select financial institutions may also allow you to make a mobile check deposit, too.
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How to cash a money order
1. Double check the info on the money order
The first thing to do when you receive a money order is double-check its value to make sure the amount is correct; money orders are prepaid, so you should know in advance how much you’re receiving. Also, make sure the name on the money order matches the name on your ID.
You’ll also want to verify that the money order is legitimate. If you know the sender, this might not be a concern, but if you aren’t completely sure of the person sending it, you’ll want to confirm it is what it’s supposed to be.
2. Research the location where you will cash your money order
Locations include a bank, credit union, grocery store, post office, retail store, or some convenience stores.
Many retail locations have a money transfer outlet like Moneygram or Western Union counter to make the process convenient. Many consumers send money orders from the United States Post Office, and a local post office will cash USPS money orders.
Bring your money order to a location that will cash it. If you receive a USPS money order, you can cash it out for free. However, at other locations, you might have to pay a fee. If you go directly to the place that issued your money order (again, that could be a place like Western Union, Moneygram, or Walmart) you might be able to minimize your fees.
Going directly to the issuer is also a way to verify the money order. If you’re cashing with a bank or credit union where you’re an account holder, you might not have to pay fees at all, and you also might be able to skirt the fees by cashing a USPS money order at a USPS location.
3. Plan to cash your money order in a timely fashion
The longer you hold on to the money order, there’s a chance it can be lost, damaged, or misplaced.
Plus, cashing a money order quickly is a way to protect yourself against possible fraud, since the sender can cancel their money order. If you’ve already cashed it with the issuer, they won’t be able to cancel.
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4. Make sure you have proper identification with you to cash the money order
This will include a picture ID: a driver’s license, passport, or other government-issued ID. You will need an ID to cash a money order.
5. Sign the back of your money order to endorse it
Don’t sign the money order in advance; add a signature to the back of the money order when you are at the counter.
“Sign your money order only once you are handing it over to be cashed. Signing it beforehand can be risky if it is stolen,” says Steiner.
6. Understand you will need to pay service fees, which will be deducted from the amount you collect
The fees tend to be low — a few dollars, or a percentage of the total.
7. Put the cash you receive away before you leave the counter, and keep your receipt
Count the money that you receive, and make sure to get and save your receipt.
Put the cash away securely before leaving the location, to keep it safe.
8. Notify the sender that you have successfully cashed their money order
You don’t have to tell them, but you might want to consider updating the sender that your transaction is complete.
Cashing a money order FAQs
Yes, you may cash a money order at a financial institution, post office, or select retailers like Walmart.
Yes, you may deposit a money order at a bank.
Some financial institutions let you make a mobile money order deposit, but not all do. For example, the U.S. Bank mobile app lets you deposit money orders.