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How to Use a Money Order

Make Payments Using Money Orders


Mailboxes inside post office, Wakefield, Quebec, Canada
MECKY/ The Image Bank/ Getty Images

Have to make a payment with a money order? Rest assured -- the process is easy. If you don’t know how to use a money order you’ll be an expert in just a few minutes.

Where to Go

First you need to decide where to get your money order. Your bank or credit union is a good place to start. Ask if they offer money orders and what the fees are. Note that money orders may come in increments smaller than you need (for example, $1,000 maximum per money order), so you may have to purchase multiple money orders. If your bank doesn’t do money orders, they probably do cashier’s checks -- and whoever you’re paying may not care which you use.

You can also get money orders at US Postal Service branches, convenience stores, grocery stores, and money transfer outlets.

Pay, Pay, Pay

To get a money order, you’ll have to pay with cash or something like it. Cash is almost always accepted, but you may be able to use debit cards, travelers checks, and possibly even credit cards.

Fill it Out

When you get a money order you’ll have to fill it out. Provide information about the person or organization you wish to pay. Write their name on the line that says something like "Pay to the order of." The process is similar to writing a check.

Be sure to use pen and write in ALL CAPS so it’s difficult to alter your writing. Sign the money order if there’s a place for your signature, and fill out any other details. Sometimes there’s room for your address, your payee’s address, and more. Keep your receipt and any documents you get with the money order -- you may need them later.

Whatever you do, don’t leave payee information blank. If the money order is not payable to anybody in particular, it’s as good as cash. If it’s lost or stolen, anybody can use the money order.

Away it Goes

Send the money order just like you’d send a check. Depending where you get the money order, you may be able to track the money order’s progress and even stop payment. Ask your money order issuer (your bank or the convenience store) what your options are and if there’s any cost.

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