How to Fill Out a Money Order

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How to Fill Out a Money Order

Are you looking for a safe form of payment when buying or selling something? 

A money order is a popular method of payment as it offers security and convenience to both the sender and the recipient. In addition, it is also one of the best alternatives to checks. 

Read on to learn everything you need to know about this payment method. Moreover, we will provide you with a step by step instructions on how to fill out a money order. 

What is a Money Order and How Does it Work? 

A money order is a paper document that you can use in making payments. Though money orders resemble the appearance of checks, there is a distinct difference between the two.  It is prepaid, so a buyer would need to pay with cash or other forms of guaranteed funds before a money order is issued. Unlike checks, money orders are also limited to some specified figure in maximum face value. For example, money orders are  limited to $1,000.00 as of August 2017 by the United States Postal Service.

Money order provides a safe alternative to cash when you’re sending your payment by mail. It also lessens the risk of theft. How so? First, you would need to specify the name of the person that will receive the money order. In addition, you can also track your money order or cancel them. 

History of Money Order

How did the concept of money order come into existence? 

We can trace it back from late 18th century Britain. The concept was not particularly successful though due to its high fees. A lot of people preferred using the traditional methods of payments such as cash or checks to get away from exorbitant fees. 

The payment system was then sold to another private firm around 1836 and they managed to lower down the fees. The decrease in charges had increased the popularity and usage of money orders. The Post Office took over the system in 1838 and they were able to reduce the fees further. As a result, the usage of money orders skyrocketed along with its profitability. 

Why Should I Use a Money Order? 

money order

There are tons of payment options out there. When is the right time for it to be the best payment method? Here are some of the uses of a money order. 

When you’re looking for a safe alternative to cash

Mailing a cash payment can simply be too risky. When the cash is lost, it is really gone for good. That is why a money order is the safest alternative to cash. If it gets lost or stolen, you can just simply cancel it and get it replaced. In addition, money orders are payable to a specific person or company. This reduces the risk of theft since your name would need to be on the money order in order to cash it in. Moreover, you can track your money order to make sure that it has landed on your recipient’s hands. 

Keeping your privacy

Personal checks contain critical information such as your name, phone number, home address and bank account numbers. You clearly don’t want to hand these pieces of information to someone that you don’t trust. Identity theft is a serious problem and using money orders that have limited personal information on them can help in reducing that risk. This is probably the safest payment alternative especially if you don’t know the person that you’re sending the payment to. 

Having a bank account is not necessary

You don’t need to have an active bank account to send a money order. The money in your money order is not tied to any financial institution. Since you pay in advance, there is no need to have an account. 

You don’t want to receive a bounced check

Receiving a bounced check is truly an inconvenience. Thankfully, one of the most guaranteed ways that will keep you from getting a bounced check is the money order. Since money orders are prepaid, it won’t be rejected for insufficient funds. 

You’re sending money abroad

A money order is a safe and affordable way of sending money internationally. You can send the USPS money orders to about 30 countries. In addition, the recipient can conveniently convert it to their local currency. 

Some sellers preferred money order

There are a few sellers who don’t accept a personal check but would rather prefer a money order payment. 

Pros and Cons of Money Order

Pros and cons

Clearly, a money order is a popular and safe way of making a payment or sending money. Though it comes with several benefits, we should never dismiss its disadvantages and limitations. 

Pros:

  • Money order reduces the risk of fraud or theft. It requires a signature and ID, making it the safest option to send a payment. 
  • It provides security in sending a payment through the mail. You can track your money order as well as cancel and have it replaced if it gets lost. 
  • You can easily access money orders anywhere. Aside from your bank, you can also buy money orders from many retail shops such as Walgreen, CVS or Walmart. 
  • It’s a widely accepted payment method. Some sellers even prefer money order over checks. 
  • They are more affordable compared to bank-issued checks. 
  • The money order provides higher assurance that you will receive the money. Unlike checks, you would need to prepay the money order, hence there is no chance that your payment would bounce. 
  • It’s a good payment alternative when you don’t have a bank or checking account. 

Cons:

  • A money order can be time-consuming. Since you’re sending it through the mail, it may take several weeks before your recipient receives it. 
  • They are not accepted everywhere. 
  • You can’t use money orders in making online purchases. 
  • Though it provides a safer payment method alternative, a money order is still susceptible to fraud. 
  • You would need to pay a fee for every money order that you purchase. 

How to Buy a Money Order

There is no scarcity when it comes to the resources where you can buy a money order. You will find multiple available sources near you. You can purchase a money order from these resources:

US Postal Service 

Money orders purchased from USPS have a good and safe reputation. They can even be sent to about 30 countries outside of the United States. On the other hand, not all postal offices have available money orders. Before you go to the nearest post office, make sure to call ahead and confirm its availability. There might be a long line as well so make sure that you bring tons of patience. USPS charges you as little as $1.20 for each money order. 

Banks and credit unions 

Your bank is also an excellent choice to purchase a money order from. Though banks often charge a higher amount of $5-$10, you can feel more secure because of the customer service it provides. They can help track your money order for your convenience. If you’re buying a money order just occasionally, this fee should not have a huge impact. However, it’s a wise option to look for a more affordable alternative if you’re always using a money order. 

Grocery stores, pharmacies and convenience stores

These resources offer the most convenience and affordability. While you’re out running an errand, drop by on these stores to buy a money order. 

7-Eleven: They have more than 8,500 locations in the U.S, hence convenience would never be an issue. The minimum fee is $0.65, though fees vary per location. The maximum money order amount available is $500.

Walmart: It’s more likely that you have a Walmart store near you as they have 4,769 stores across the U.S. They charge $.70 per money order and the maximum money order amount that you can purchase is $1000.

CVS: If you’re thinking that money orders are only available in grocery and convenience stores, think again. Pharmacy stores like CVS issue money orders too. They may charge higher though at $1.25 per money order. 

Meijer – This grocery store is another good choice. They have more than 240 stores, mostly located in Indiana, Ohio, and Michigan. Meijer charges $.65 per money order and you can purchase a maximum amount of $500.

Kmart: Fees vary per location, from $.69 to $1.25 per money order. Not all Kmart stores sell money orders though, so make sure to call your local store ahead. 

Publix: You will have to pay $.85 per money order and the maximum amount is $500.

Kroger: Fees may vary by subsidiary and location but it’s approximately around $.70 per money order. The maximum money order amount is $500 – $1000, depending on location.    

How to Fill Out a Money Order

Money orders have different formats, depending on who issued them. What they have in common though is that you don’t need to fill in the money amount. Upon purchase, you inform the vendor of the amount that you would like to buy. You will then be given the paper document of the said amount. 

Regardless of where you purchase the money order from, here are the pieces of information that you would need to fill in. 

Payee Information

In this field, you write the name of the person or company receiving the payment. Some money order says this field as “Pay to” while others have “Pay to the order of”. It’s important that you write this piece of information clearly and accurately. Your recipient can only redeem the funds if the name on the money order exactly matches the name on their identification. So check your spelling!

Address Information

Most money orders have space for you to enter your mailing address. Some money orders would say Drawer, Remitter, Issuer, Sender or From. Entering your mailing address would enable the recipient to contact you should there be an issue with the money order or a need to verify some information.  USPS money orders add a section on the left for the recipients mailing address. You should include your address as well as the recipient’s address.

Additional Details

To avoid any issues with sending a money order payment, you have to make sure to include all the necessary additional information. You should include details such as transaction details and account number. If you’re paying a bill, it’s important that you write the account number so that the payment is reflected on your account. Adding notes is also helpful for the recipient to recognize what is this payment for. Some money orders don’t provide space for additional information so you can write in the front instead. 

Signature

Some money orders don’t require your signature. For instance, you don’t need to sign a money order purchased from USPS. 

Others have a line that says Signer, Drawer, Purchaser’s signature, or just Purchaser. When a money order has this field, make sure that you sign to make the money order official. Sign on the front since the back section is allocated for the recipient’s signature. 

Important Things to Remember

things to remember

After you purchase a money order, make sure that you keep the receipt as this will serve as proof of purchase. You would also need the receipt in tracking your money order. Take note of the serial number, money order number and the tracking number along with the exact amount of the money order. Some instances may also call for the cancellation of your money order, so it’s important to keep the receipt handy. 

We live in a world where sending money anywhere and anytime is convenient. Despite the tons of payment options available, money order still ranks high when it comes to safety and convenience. With so many vendors that sell money orders, it’s more likely that you can buy one around the corner. 

Despite its reputation for being a safe payment method, you should not let your guard down. There are still a number of money order scams reported. Always take extra measures to protect yourself. Accept payments only from the people that you trust. It’s also important that you call the money order issuer and verify that you have received a legitimate document. You can never go wrong with being extra cautious. 

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