Money orders are an inexpensive option for bills and purchases. They cost about a dollar at most retail locations, and you’ll pay $5 or so at your bank or credit union. Scroll down to see a price list from popular issuers.
Retail locations: The least expensive way to get a money order is usually at a Western Union or MoneyGram desk (try the Customer Service desk). You can often find these at the following locations:
- Grocery stores
- Convenience stores
- Check-cashing stores
USPS: U.S. Post Offices are another good option. These money orders are considered especially safe, they can be used overseas, and they’re relatively inexpensive. USPS Money Order pricing works as follows:
- $1.45 for $0.01-$500
- $1.95 for $500.01-$1,000
- $0.50 for Postal Military Money Orders
- International money orders charge an issuing fee of $10.50 and a processing fee based on the destination country.
Banks and credit unions: At financial institutions, money orders generally cost more (don’t be surprised if it’s $5 to $10) but may be free if you have a checking account.
Money Order Maximums
Keep in mind that the cost refers to a single money order, and money orders typically have a maximum limit. For example, a money order issuer may only offer money orders up to $1,000. If you need to pay $2,000, you’d have to buy two money orders and pay two fees.
For large purchases, consider a cashier’s check. Banks and credit unions issue cashier’s checks (which are similar to money orders in terms of safety) for larger amounts. They typically cost between $1 and $10 but may also come free of charge depending on your financial institution and level of service. A cashier's check might cost you more than a single money order but less than multiple money orders.
Availability and Pricing
Prices for money orders vary from store to store and town to town. You might find that some stores in your area don’t even sell money orders at all, while they sell inexpensive money orders in other regions.
Verify availability and cost before you need your money order.
Call ahead and ask if money orders are available 24/7, or if you need to visit a service desk with limited operating hours. You’ll also need to ask the maximum issue amount.
It might pay to shop around, but if you can find money orders for less than $1, you’re doing well. Note that many convenience stores, grocery stores, and check cashing stores outsource their money orders—thus you’re getting the same money order (at the same price) from numerous locations. MoneyGram and Western Union are commonly used at those stores.
Also, check with your bank or credit union. In some cases, those money orders are more expensive, but you never know until you ask.
Money Order Locations
Need some ideas on where to shop and what to expect? Below are popular locations for money order purchases.
|7-Eleven||May vary by location||$500|
|Fifth Third Bank||$1 (may vary based on level of service with bank)||$1,500|
|Kroger (King Soopers, City Market)||84 to 88 cents (may vary by location)||$1,000|
|MoneyGram||70 cents (may vary by location)||$1,000|
|TD Bank||May vary per account (only open to bank customers)||$1,000|
|USPS International||$10.50 + issuing fee of country (no Japan)||$700|
|Walmart||88 cents (may vary by location)||$1,000|
|Western Union||May vary by location||$1,000|
After purchasing a money order, you might need additional services from the issuer. For example, you can find out if and when the item was cashed (and see who endorsed the back). If the money order gets lost or you decide not to use it, you may need to request a refund or replacement. Those services could cost extra.
Costs To Cash a Money Order
If you received a money order, how much will it cost to convert it to cash?
You can almost always deposit a check—as well as a money order—for free at your bank or credit union, so do that if you don’t need cash immediately. You’ll then be able to spend those funds once they clear in your account as you would with any other money in that checking account—with your debit card, online bill payment, or a cash withdrawal from an ATM at a later date.
If you truly want to cash a money order, it may cost you. Your bank will probably do it for free, but you might only be able to get the first $200 of the money order (you’d then wait a few more days, depending on your bank’s funds availability policy—although you can get more on a USPS money order). You can also try to cash the money order with the money order issuer. For example, take it to a Western Union location if it’s a Western Union money order. USPS money orders are free to cash at post offices, but they might not have all of the cash you need. Other issuers may charge a fee of $3 to $20 or so. Finally, check cashing stores will often cash money orders for a modest fee.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How does a money order work?
A money order works like a check but is more secure because it's guaranteed by the issuer and can't bounce. You purchase a money order with cash or check from the issuer, and you will receive a paper check that you will then make out to your payee. If you receive a money order, the best way to cash it or deposit it is to take it to the issuing institution.
How do you track a money order?
Always keep your receipt when you purchase a money order, as this has the transaction or serial number for your money order. In order to track a money order and see if it has been deposited, contact the issuer and give them the information on your receipt.
How long is a money order valid?
Money orders don't have an expiration date, but the issuer might deduct a fee from the value if you fail to cash it within a few years. This is only allowed in some states.