Track a Money Order

Find out if money orders have been cashed or deposited

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When you pay with a money order, you may want to know if your payment has been received and cashed by the right person (rather than stolen). Unfortunately, the details are not readily available.

Unlike personal checks, money orders aren’t directly linked to your personal bank account—you often buy them with cash (though some places will accept a debit card). If you pay with cash, you won't see any evidence of the money order clearing in your bank transaction history. However, you can track money order payments by placing a request with the money order issuer.

With MoneyGram, you can check the status of a money order online. For a Western Union money order, you can call a toll free number before taking additional steps. For USPS money orders (or to get more details from any issuer), you submit a form and pay a modest fee for the tracking service.

After about 30 days, the issuer typically sends 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 may 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 receive 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 $6.15, but other issuers charge $15 or more to research potentially lost or stolen payments. You may 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 your 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.
  • Consider waiting: It may be worth waiting at least two weeks after you send a payment before giving up and canceling a money order. Most letters arrive at 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. That said, if anything seems fishy, it's smart to seek answers quickly.

Tracking Money Orders from the USPS

If you used a USPS money order, you need to visit a post office and fill out PS Form 6401 - Money Order Inquiry. To complete that form, you 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 $6.15 for researching your money order. The process takes at least 30 days, and if the money order has been cashed or deposited, you’ll receive a copy of the front and back of the document. With that information, you can learn where the money ultimately went.

If you can’t wait that long, there are supposedly some 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. Call MoneyGram’s automated response line at 1-800-542-3590 or use MoneyGram's online tracking system. You’ll need to provide your money order number and the exact dollar amount; the system should then tell you whether the item has been cashed or not.

If it has been cashed and you want a copy of the endorsed money order, you can request one online or fill out a Claim Card, pay $15, and wait at least 30 days for a mailed response.

If you don’t have your money order number, you’ll need to pay an additional $40 and fill out a different form 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 and links to the forms in Spanish and English, 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 and you have your receipt, you can use the Money Order Tracing/Refund request on 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 may 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 $30 to research your money order. You can submit Western Union requests for refunds in person, by mail, by fax, or by email. For more information, visit Western Union’s money order service pages.

Other Issuers

Many 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 receive a payment by money order, your bank handles the logistics of processing the payment. You can deposit the payment into your bank account just like you would deposit a check, or cash the money order.

If you’re concerned that a money order you 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 turns out to be fake, the bank will require you to repay the amount.

Ideally, you know who you're dealing with when you accept a payment by money order. But money orders make anonymous payments possible, for better or worse. You may need to involve law enforcement officials if you need help researching criminal activity (and they might not be able to help).

Article Sources

  1. Walmart. "Money Orders," Accessed Nov. 20, 2019.

  2. United States Postal Service. "Domestic Money Orders," Accessed Nov. 20, 2019.

  3. MoneyGram. "Money Order Information," Accessed Oct. 1, 2019.

  4. Western Union. "Western Union® Money Orders," Accessed Oct. 1, 2019.

  5. United States Postal Service. "Money Order Inquiry System," Accessed Nov. 20, 2019.

  6. Western Union. "How Do I Request a Money Order Refund?" Accessed Nov. 20, 2019.

  7. United States Postal Service. "Money Orders: The Basics," Accessed Nov. 20, 2019.

  8. MoneyGram. "Money Order Claim Card," Accessed Nov. 20, 2019.

  9. Western Union. "Money Order Research Request," Accessed Nov. 20, 2019.

  10. Office of the Comptroller of the Currency. "Answers About Forgery and Fraud," Accessed Oct. 1, 2019.