Track a Money Order

Find out if money orders have been cashed or deposited

Steps to Fill out a Money Order
••• Justin Pritchard

When you pay with a money order and would like to know if your payment's been received and cashed by the right person rather than stolen, there’s no easy way to tell unless you speak with the recipient.

Unlike personal checks, money orders aren’t directly linked to your personal bank account, so you won't see any evidence of the money order clearing. However, you can track money order payments by placing a request with the money order issuer.

With most Western Union and MoneyGram, you can find out if a money order was cashed by calling a toll-free number. For USPS money orders (or to get more details from any issuer), you’ll submit a form and pay a modest fee for the tracking service.

After about 30 days, the issuer will either send a copy of the endorsed money order (showing who cashed or deposited it, and when) or a notice that the money order has not yet been cashed. If the money order is still outstanding, you should still have the option to cancel it and get a refund. The exact process varies from issuer to issuer.

© The Balance, 2018

Making Your Request

Details needed: When you buy a money order, you should get a receipt with details about the money order. To do any tracking, you’ll need to provide the money order number and the amount of the money order. If you don’t have that information, look for any photos or copies of the money order and keep that information the next time you buy a money order.

Service fees: Tracking a money order is time-consuming, and it can be expensive. The USPS is most affordable at $5.95, but other issuers charge $15 or more to research your payment. You also have to fill out forms, sometimes in person, and you might not get an answer (much less a refund) for 30 days or more.

Contact the recipient: If possible, communicate with whoever you sent payment to. Sometimes people and businesses don’t process orders immediately, and they take even longer to deposit payments they’ve received. Getting information directly from your payee may be easier than filling out forms.

Wait: Money order issuers suggest waiting at least two weeks after you send a payment before giving up and canceling a money order. Most letters get to their destination within a few days, but for some reason payments seem to move slower. Especially with holidays and weekends, that process can take even longer. What’s more, your recipient may have been busy or out of town when the payment arrived.

Tracking Money Orders from the USPS

If you used a USPS money order, you’ll need to visit a post office and fill out PS Form 6401 - Money Order Inquiry. To complete that form, you’ll need the receipt from your original purchase showing the money order number, amount, and information about the post office you purchased from.

Currently, the USPS charges $5.95 for researching your money order. The process takes at least 30 days, and (if the money order has been cashed or deposited) you’ll get a copy of the front and back of the document. With that information, you can find out where the money eventually went.

If you can’t wait that long, there are reports of unofficial “workarounds” that might help you determine whether or not the money order was cashed or deposited. For example, you can try the post office inquiry line or use the Money Order Inquiry System, and see if the item “does not match.” However, the information you get might not be reliable because that system was not designed to do what you’re trying to do. The only way to know for sure is to use Form 6401 and wait.

MoneyGram Tracking

Tracking MoneyGram money orders is a bit easier – if you only need to know whether or not the money order was cashed. Call MoneyGram’s automated response line at 1-800-542-3590. You’ll need to provide your money order number and the exact dollar amount, and you’ll learn whether or not the item is still outstanding.

If you want a copy of the endorsed money order, you have two options with MoneyGram:

  1. Fill out a Claim Card, pay $18, and wait at least 15 days for a mailed response, or
  2. Request an Expedited Photocopy. That service costs $24 and takes two business days, and the response will come to you by fax or email.

If you don’t have your money order number, you’ll need to pay an additional $40 for MoneyGram to dig up the information you need. You can also request these services in person with a MoneyGram agent to ensure that the process goes smoothly.

For more information, visit MoneyGram’s money order service pages.

Western Union Process

Western Union’s process is similar to MoneyGram’s. Before filling out forms and paying fees, verify that the money order was cashed by calling 1-800-999-9660.

If you need a copy of the paid money order, you’ll need to fill out a form or use the back of your money order receipt. Don’t submit your request until your money order has been processed by the recipient — unless you want to cancel the money order. The cost is $15, and the process should take around 30 days.

Again, it’s best if you keep your receipt when you buy a money order. If you don’t, Western Union charges an additional $30 to research your money order. Western Union requests can be submitted in person, by mail, by fax, or by email. For more information, visit Western Union’s money order service pages.

Other Issuers

Most money orders issued at grocery stores, convenience stores, and check cashing stores are Western Union or MoneyGram money orders. If your money order was issued by an organization not already covered here (such as your bank or credit union), there’s still a good chance that you can trace it. It might even be easier – especially if you bank at a small institution. Instead of filling out forms, a simple phone call might be all that’s needed.

Tracking and Cashing Money Orders You've Received

If you've received a payment by money order, your bank will handle the logistics of processing the payment. You can deposit the payment into your bank account just like you’d deposit a check, or cash the money order.

If you’re concerned that a money order you’ve received may be fraudulent, contact the money order issuer and discuss your concerns. It may be possible to verify funds on the payment or at least find out if it’s a known fake.

Don’t spend the money until you’re certain that the funds have cleared. That process can take a few weeks, even if your bank’s funds availability policy allows you to use the money immediately. If you use the funds and the money order's fake, the bank will require you to repay the amount.

If you want to know who provided the money order to you, issuers won't tell you who purchased the instrument. In most cases, it should be obvious who is paying you. But money orders make anonymous payments possible, for better or worse. If you need help from law enforcement, money order issuers might be able to provide information about the purchase of a money order.