How to Fill Out a USPS Money Order

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March 25, 2024

In 2022, the United States Postal Service (USPS) issued an astonishing 66.4 million money orders, processing an average of 219,785 daily.

These numbers convey the significant demand for sending money orders in the United States. Whether paying bills or making online purchases, money orders provide a secure way to transfer funds.

But how exactly do they work, and when should you consider using one? This article will help you understand the world of money orders, explaining what they are, how to purchase and send them, and even how to spot fake ones.

Sending money can sometimes feel like a puzzle, but we’ve got you covered with USPS Money Orders. This article helps ensure your financial transactions are smooth and worry-free.

If you’re looking for a USPS office to fill out a money order, FindPostOffice.org can help you. You can browse over 33,641 USPS offices using FindPostOffice.org’s online search tool.

Money Orders – The Basics

When sending money through the mail, money orders offer a secure alternative to personal checks and cash.

USPS money orders, in particular, offer several advantages: they are cost-effective, have no expiration date, and are accepted at numerous locations.

 Additionally, if you possess a money order receipt, you can track your payment and provide evidence of its value in case of loss, damage, or theft.

What Is a USPS Money Order?

A USPS money order is a document that acts like U.S. currency and can be obtained in different denominations. You can purchase or redeem money orders at any post office branch.

One notable feature of money orders is that they operate much like checks but without the risk of bouncing. You acquire money orders using cash or secure payment methods like debit cards or traveler’s checks.

Most money orders come from MoneyGram, Western Union, or the U.S. Postal Service.

Where to Get a Money Order

You can obtain a money order from USPS locations, select retail banks, certain retailers like grocery stores, pharmacies, big-box retailers, and convenience stores, as well as payday loan and check-cashing stores.

For instance, Walmart, CVS (Consumer Value Stores), Western Union, and MoneyGram outlets within numerous retail locations offer money orders. Additionally, many banks and credit union branches provide money order services.

USPS money orders, often called postal orders, are available directly from the United States Postal Service, making them a convenient option for many.

How to Fill Out a Money Order

To successfully fill out a money order, you must provide essential information on the order. 

This typically includes your full name and contact details as the purchaser, the recipient’s name and address, the money order amount, and your signature.

Additionally, you may be asked to include a memo or account number, especially when using a money order to pay bills. Make sure to double-check the accuracy of the information to avoid any issues with the transaction.

It’s crucial to provide all the necessary information when sending a money order. The following sections will guide you through the required fields that must be filled out before sending the money order to your recipient.

Fill In the Name of the Recipient

In the “Pay to” or “Pay to the order of” section of the money order, you should use ink to write the payee’s name, which can be an individual or a business entity.

This step is crucial as it designates the authorized recipient who can cash or deposit the money order. It’s advisable to complete this field after acquiring the money order to ensure accuracy and clarity.

Add the Payee’s Address

Adding the payee’s address is another step in completing a money order. This field lets you provide the recipient’s address, ensuring the money order reaches the intended person or business.

Include Your Address in the Purchaser Section

Write your address in the address field. Ensuring the accuracy of your address helps establish a clear connection between you, the sender, and the money order, which can be valuable in case of any inquiries or issues.

Write the Account or Order Number in the Memo Field

The memo field on a money order serves as a space to indicate the intended purpose of the transaction. You can use this section to provide a brief description, such as noting that the money order is intended for settling a debt or making a particular purchase.

 Additionally, if you possess the payee’s account or order number, this can be included in the memo field to clarify the nature of the transaction further.

Sign Your Name in the Purchaser’s Signature Section

Affix your signature on the designated area at the front of the money order. This portion may bear various labels, such as “Purchaser,” “Signer,” “Purchaser’s Signature,” “From,” or “Drawer.”

What to Do After Filling Out a Money Order

You should detach the receipt stub once you’ve filled out all the necessary details on the money order. This stub contains your order’s ID number, serving as your payment record and a way to track if someone cashes your money order.

After you’ve finished filling out the money order and have the receipt, you can hand it over to your recipient or send it by mail. Just remember, your recipient will need to show valid identification when they go to cash it.

Keep Your Receipt

Don’t forget to hold onto your money order receipt, as it comes with a handy tracking number. This number lets you check whether your recipient cashed the money order.

If the money order is misplaced or stolen, this tracking number can be a lifesaver. You can use it to request a replacement from USPS, although they may charge a processing fee for this service.

 Additionally, the receipt is your go-to if your plans change and you must cancel the money order.

Money Order Fees

Fees to purchase money orders are based on the following dollar amounts:

Dollar amountFee
$0.01 to $500$2
$500.01 to $1,000$2.90
Postal military money orders$0.65

How to Purchase a Money Order

You can acquire money orders through various means, such as cash or debit card payments at banks, credit unions, check-cashing establishments, the U.S. Postal Service, and certain groceries and big-box stores.

It’s crucial to avoid using a credit card for this purpose since some credit card providers may categorize it as a cash advance, resulting in high fees.

 Moreover, certain issuers do not accept credit cards as a payment method for money orders. Remember that there might be restrictions on the money order’s maximum amount.

For example, the U.S. Postal Service permits money orders up to $1,000 for domestic use, typically accompanied by a small fee on top of the money order’s cost.

Benefits of Using a Money Order

Money orders provide a convenient and secure option for various financial transactions, serving as an alternative to checks and cash.

They are particularly beneficial for individuals who need a checking account, offering a reliable means of payment without the risk of insufficient funds.

Since money orders are prepaid, there’s no possibility of them bouncing. Furthermore, these financial instruments don’t mandate the purchaser to have a bank account. They can be effortlessly obtained with cash.

Money orders are also an excellent choice when traditional mail-based transactions are necessary or preferred, as they don’t disclose sensitive bank account details, ensuring added security. 

Like checks, only the designated recipient can encash the money order, safeguarding your financial transactions.

How Do You Deposit a Money Order?

Depositing a money order into your checking or savings account is a straightforward process, much like depositing a check.

For mobile or ATM deposits, endorse the money order, include your account number below your signature, and follow the instructions for deposit.

However, if you prefer an in-person deposit at your bank or credit union, be prepared to present identification to verify your ownership.

It’s essential to note that the entire sum on the money order may take time to be available for withdrawal.

How to Send Money Using USPS Money Order

Once you’ve learned how to complete a money order, the next step is to send it to the recipient. In the sections that follow, we’ll go over the procedures for sending both domestic and international money orders.

How to Send Domestic and International Money Orders

When sending a money order within the United States using USPS, you should adhere to these instructions:

  • Determine the amount of the money order
  • Head to a post office branch
  • Bring cash, a debit card, or a traveler’s check to pay for the money order (credit cards are not accepted)
  • Fill out the money order form at the service counter
  • Make the payment for the specified money order amount, inclusive of the issuing fee
  • Hold onto your receipt, which will help you track your money order

To send USPS money orders to other countries, follow these instructions:

  • Determine the amount you want to send via the money order.
  • Head to a post office.
  • Bring cash, a debit card, or a traveler’s check to pay for the money order; note that credit cards are not accepted.
  • Fill out the money order form at the service counter.
  • Pay the dollar value of the money order, the issuing fee, and any applicable processing fee, depending on the destination country. As of 2023, the issuing price for international money orders is $49.65.
  • Keep a copy of your receipt to track the money order.
  • Forward the money order using one of these international mailing services: Priority Mail International, Priority Mail Express International, First-Class Package International, or First-Class Mail International.

How to Cash Domestic Money Orders

Domestic money orders have no expiration date and do not generate interest. When cashing a money order, you’ll receive the exact amount specified on the order.

You can go to a post office to cash a USPS money order without charge. Additionally, most banks and certain stores also provide money order cashing services.

In some cases, rural carriers may encash money orders if they have sufficient funds available.

Cashing a Money Order at the Post Office

When you’re looking to encash a money order at the post office, it’s essential to follow these steps: 

  • Add your signature to the back of the money order when you are at the counter, ready to have it cashed. This precaution minimizes risks, especially if the money order is lost or stolen.
  • Visit any post office branch with the money order and ensure you have a primary photo I.D.
  • At the post office, you’ll need to sign the money order in the presence of a retail associate. They will guide you through the process and assist you in completing the transaction securely and efficiently.

Check the Status of a Money Order

To monitor the status of your USPS money order, visit the USPS website and input the serial number, which is located on your receipt, into the tracking number search box.

This will allow you to access information about your order, enabling you to track its progress, initiate cancellations, or report the money order as lost or stolen.

You can check the status of a money order acquired from the U.S. Postal Service at your convenience by accessing the money orders application.

When to Use a Money Order

When cash, personal checks, or mobile payment apps are not viable for making or receiving payments, a money order can offer a practical solution.

Money orders are a widely accepted form of payment, as they are prepaid, mitigating the risk of insufficient funds. A money order also resembles a check, providing an added layer of security compared to cash, as it designates a specific recipient.

 To encash a money order, the recipient must endorse it and present identification, enhancing its traceability and security. This makes money orders particularly useful for individuals who don’t have a checking account or prefer not to accept personal checks.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Money Orders

Here are some of the advantages of using money orders:

  • Locating a source to buy money orders is a straightforward process.
  • Buying or cashing a money order does not necessitate having a checking account.
  • The money order can only be cashed or deposited by the designated recipient.

Despite these advantages, it’s important to be aware of some constraints and drawbacks associated with money orders:

  • The maximum limit for a money order is $1,000.
  • In case of loss or cancellation of a money order, the reimbursement process can extend to 30 days or more.
  • If you fail to specify the recipient’s name and lose the money order, it becomes susceptible to being encashed or deposited by anyone.

How to Cancel or Replace a Money Order

If you find yourself in a situation where you need to cancel or obtain a replacement for a money order, it’s crucial to get in touch with the issuing entity promptly.

They will provide you with a cancellation request form, so be prepared to present your receipt.

A fee will be applicable for canceling a money order. You have the option to request a replacement money order or a cash refund as well.

Replacing Lost, Stolen, or Damaged Money Orders

In the event of a lost, stolen, or damaged money order, promptly contact the issuer to initiate the process of obtaining a replacement. Ensure you follow their guidelines and provide the necessary information to facilitate the replacement request.

Lost or Stolen Money Orders

You cannot halt payment on postal money orders, but it is possible to request a replacement for a lost or stolen money order.

The confirmation process for a lost or stolen money order might extend to approximately 30 days, and investigating its status could take up to 60 days.

Be aware that there is a processing fee of $17.30 associated with replacing a lost or stolen money order.

Requesting a Refund

To request a refund for a lost or stolen money order, visit any post office and bring your money order receipt.

Engage with a retail associate at the counter to initiate a money order inquiry. Once you have inquired, you can monitor the status of your money order and the progress of your inquiry through the money orders application.

 If your money order is confirmed as lost or stolen, the issuing entity will provide you with a replacement money order.

Damaged Money Orders

USPS will issue replacements for money orders that have defects or are damaged. Bring the damaged money order and receipt to your nearest post office to request a replacement. 

Money Orders Between USPS and Japan Post

Japan Post Bank made an announcement on November 29, 2019, stating that they would cease issuing postal money orders for mail-in passport renewals outside of designated U.S. military installations in Japan.

 It’s important to note that this alteration has no bearing on USPS money orders, as the U.S. embassy and consulates in Japan confirmed their continued acceptance of USPS money orders.

How to Spot a Fake when Receiving Money Orders

Before acknowledging a money order, there are several essential measures you should take to verify its authenticity. There are specific critical indicators you should examine to identify counterfeit money orders.

Examine the Paper

Authentic USPS money orders incorporate distinct designs and security features to deter fraudulent activities.

 You can easily observe these features by holding the money order up to the light.

 You should be able to identify Ben Franklin watermarks on the left side. On the right side of the watermark, there should be a vertical, multicolored thread bearing the letters “USPS.”

Check the Dollar Amounts

To detect potential fraud, inspect the money order carefully. Look for any signs of alteration, especially if the dollar amount appears discolored, which could indicate erasure.

Ensure that the dollar amount is printed twice, and be cautious if the value appears unusually high. Bear in mind that domestic money orders cannot exceed $1,000. International ones are limited to $700 (with exceptions for El Salvador or Guyana, where the limit is $500).

Suspect a Fake?

If you have concerns about the authenticity of your money order, contact the U.S. Postal Inspection Service at 1-877-876-2455. If you believe you’ve been given a fake money order, call the Money Order Verification System at 1-866-459-7822 for verification.

Money Order Mistakes to Avoid

Filling out a money order can be straightforward when you have a clear understanding of the required information and its proper placement. However, it’s important to be cautious and avoid these common errors:

  • Providing the incorrect payee name or address
  • Inaccurately writing your name or address
  • Misspelling the recipient’s name
  • Leaving the recipient field empty
  • Failing to sign the money order or signing it in the wrong location
  • Omitting an account number in the memo line, if applicable, for bill payment
  • Misplacing or losing the receipt

General Recommendations for Writing a Check or Money Order

When using a check, your name and address must be pre-printed on the top left corner. If your check lacks an address, it’s advisable to opt for a money order as an alternative.

It’s important to note that checks or money orders from foreign banks should not be used. Your check or money order should be included with your other application materials and not sent separately.

Typically, having a checking account with a U.S. bank is a prerequisite for writing a personal check or requesting a cashier’s check.

Money orders can be purchased at different locations, including United States Post Office branches, pharmacies in Philadelphia, and other U.S. cities like CVS and Walgreens, as well as many convenience stores such as 7-Eleven. Your bank may also offer money order services.

Key Takeaways

Money orders are a straightforward and convenient option for those who don’t have checking accounts. After filling in the recipient’s name, only the designated payee can encash the money order.

When using money orders to pay bills, including an account or invoice number is essential to ensure proper crediting. It’s important to note that canceling a money order may take up to 30 days or even longer to receive a refund.

FAQs

1. Whose address do you put on a money order?

Both your address and the recipient’s address should be included in a money order.

2. Do you have to sign a money order?

Yes, you have to write out your signature on a money order.

3. What happens if you fill out a money order wrong?

 Rectifying a mistake on a money order can be challenging. If you incorrectly write the payee’s name or misspell it, the remedy may involve requesting a refund, which could take up to 30 days, as Western Union indicates.

4. Can a blank money order be cashed?

If someone discovers an unfilled money order with a specified value, it has the potential to be completed and encashed.

5. Can anyone cash a money order?

A money order can only be encashed by the payee with valid identification.

6. Who is the purchaser of a money order?

The purchaser of a money order is the individual who acquired it and is using it to transfer funds. For instance, if you’re using a money order to settle a bill, you would be considered the purchaser since you are the one who made the purchase.

7. Is it possible to use a USPS money order for international money transfers?

USPS money orders are applicable for sending money to different countries. If you’re uncertain whether your money order will be accepted in the recipient country, it’s advisable to conduct advance verification, as the refund process for a canceled money order can be time-consuming.

In most cases, countries accepting USPS money orders have a per-order limit of $700, except for El Salvador and Guyana, where the limit is $500.

It’s important to remember that when sending a money order overseas, it must be dispatched via mail, and delivery times may vary depending on the destination.

8. How long does a USPS money order take?

Typically, money orders are expected to reach the recipient within a few days. Nevertheless, delays may occur during weekends or holidays.

It’s advisable to allow a minimum of 14 days before raising concerns about the money order’s delivery.

9. How do you track a USPS money order?

Through the USPS website, you can input your money order’s serial number, which is located on the receipt. This allows you to review the money order’s status, track, cancel, or report it as lost or stolen.

When it comes to sending money internationally, you have many choices. It’s crucial to select the best method with your preferences, considering factors such as convenience, speed, and cost.

10. Does a postal money order need to be filled out?

If you accept a USPS money order, you can cash it without any fees at a post office. Simply take the money order to a post office, show valid identification, sign it at the counter, and you’ll receive the cash.

Alternatively, some banks and select stores also provide money order cashing services. However, if you’re claiming payment on behalf of organizations, multiple individuals, or a minor, USPS may have additional requirements.

For instance, if the money order lists two or more payees connected with the “and” conjunction, all the specified payees must endorse the money order.

11. Does a USPS money order need an address?

Yes, a USPS money order requires the sender’s and recipient’s address to be filled out on the money order. This information is essential for the identification and proper processing of the transaction.

12. What is the difference between a money order and a USPS money order?

At a glance, money orders and USPS money orders may seem quite similar in their function as instruments for personal finance, but there are some subtle distinctions between them. Independent financial service providers typically issue money orders.

Conversely, a USPS money order is essentially a postal order, which can be purchased directly from a national postal system like the United States Postal Service.

Certain creditors prefer accepting postal orders instead of money orders from independent financial service providers because they believe they are more secure and less susceptible to forgery.

References

  1. 219,785 money orders
    https://facts.usps.com/306930-money-orders/
  2. How to Fill out a Money Order: Step by Step
    https://www.investopedia.com/how-to-fill-out-a-money-order-step-by-step-4589636
  3. Sending Money Orders
    https://www.usps.com/shop/money-orders.htm
  4. Money Orders – The Basics
    https://faq.usps.com/s/article/Money-Orders-The-Basics
  5. Chapter 7000: Procedures For Processing Postal Money Orders
    https://tfm.fiscal.treasury.gov/v2/p4/c700
  6. Money Orders: When, Where, and How
    https://www.investopedia.com/money-orders-can-be-a-simple-safe-and-cheap-way-to-transfer-money-here-s-how-to-avoid-the-pitfalls-4589635
  7. 509 Other Services
    https://pe.usps.com/text/dmm300/509.htm
  8. What Is a Money Order, How Does It Work, and How Do I Get One?
    https://www.investopedia.com/terms/m/money-order.asp
  9. MESSAGE TO U.S. CITIZENS: JAPAN POST BANK TO STOP ISSUING INTERNATIONAL RENEWALS BY MAIL
    https://jp.usembassy.gov/message-to-u-s-citizens-japan-post-bank-to-stop-issuing-international-renewals-by-mail/