In our first article on money orders, How to Get Money Orders Near Me, we covered how and where to get them.
In this article, we’ll focus on the downside of this agreement – cashing and depositing money orders in locations near where you live.
However, in case you haven’t read this first article, let’s start with a brief overview of money orders. They’re not as popular as they used to be and rarely used by the majority of people.
However, there are situations when sending or receiving a money order may be a preferred method of payment.
What are money orders and how do they work?
Money orders are negotiable instruments, similar to checks. They can be used to make payments when cash, checks, or debit or credit cards are either unavailable or undesirable.
They are widely used by people who do not have regular banking relationships. But also in situations where you need to make a payment but don’t want to provide any of the personal information that appears on checks or credit cards. Money orders are not tied to bank accounts, so no account numbers are displayed.
On a practical level, money orders work much like checks. You can buy them at thousands of different outlets across the country. They can be purchased in denominations of up to $ 500 or $ 1,000. If you need to make a payment that exceeds these limits, you will need to purchase multiple money orders.
They can typically be purchased for fees between $ 1 and $ 5. You can buy them with cash, credit, or debit cards. You can also use wire transfers from a bank account when purchasing from an account you have an account with.
Since money orders are funded at the time of purchase, the amount transferred is virtually guaranteed. This makes them equivalent to certified checks or checks for payment security. And since they’re pre-funded, they can’t ricochet.
Although money orders are widely used, it is important to check with the payee first as the acceptance is not universal. In addition, money orders generally cannot be used for online purchases.
Please read our article again How to get money orders near me to see where to buy money orders, and the fees and terms for each.
Money orders or deposits
Often (but not always) when you receive a money order, you can cash it anywhere that money orders are sold. Cashing a check is very similar to cashing a check, except that you have more options in where to cash it. (We’ll cover these options later.)
To redeem a money order, you must sign the back of the document like a check. However, do not sign until you are with the institution that is going to redeem it as some will require a signature of your signature for validation purposes.
Regardless of the institution to which you cash the money order, be sure to bring proper ID with you. The ID requirements vary from institution to institution. You can generally assume that a government-issued driver’s license, recent passport, permanent resident card, or military ID will be acceptable.
WARNING: Make sure the money order issuer includes your name and address on the document exactly as it is written on your ID documentation. If there are discrepancies, the redemption process can either be more complicated or even be rejected by the institution.
Some institutions may require you to pay a small fee to redeem a money order.
If you’d prefer to deposit a money order into a bank or credit union account, you should be able to do so in the same way as you would a personal check. The bank or credit union may not ask for ID information because they (in theory) know who you are.
If you deposit the money order into a bank or credit union account, access to the cash is subject to the availability policy of the institution’s fund. Funds are generally fully available the next business day. However, some institutions allow you to make a small portion of the deposit – usually $ 200 – on the day of the deposit.
Watch out for fraudulent money orders!
Since they are fully paid at the time of purchase, it can be hard to imagine how fraudulent a money order can be.
But just like with personal checks – or any tradable instrument – a money order can be fraudulent. Chances are even greater if the money order is payment for an item you sold on eBay or another online platform. The fact that the sender is so far from you and completely unknown to you increases the possibility.
There are usually a few simple steps you can take to minimize the risk of money order fraud.
Initially, only accept them from local people, preferably people you are familiar with.
Second, you will be given a copy of your driver’s license or other form of identification – just in case the money order turns out to be fraudulent. And sometimes just asking for ID can short-circuit a fraud situation before it happens.
Signs of a fraudulent money order
Once you’ve received a money order, look out for one of the following options:
- Visible watermarks: Money orders usually contain watermarks that are only visible when the document is held up to the light or at certain angles. However, if there is a watermark on the money order, the money order might be nothing more than a photocopy.
- Changes: Money orders are not only prepaid, but also preprinted. If information in the document is changed or handwritten, it is likely a fraud.
- Machine-printed issue date, dollar amount and serial number: Machine-printed numbers look clear. If the numbers on the money order look too ordinary, it may be a fake.
- The money order should contain multi-colored reflective threads: This feature is added specifically for money orders to distinguish them from copies and forgeries.
- The amount of the money order exceeds the requested payment: The payer will then ask you to reimburse the difference in cash or electronically. This is a dead giveaway for a scam. The money order moderator is trying to get money back from you with a totally wrong money order.
If you are not sure about any of the above, go online and find a copy of a money order from the issuing institution. If there are significant differences between what you are presented with and what you see online, it may be a fraudulent document.
On a more practical level, consider cashing or depositing a money order immediately upon receipt. In addition to the fact that money orders usually include an expiration date, the sooner it is discovered, the more options you have to choose when it comes to fraudulent fraud.
Places where money orders are near me
Here, too, you can usually redeem a money order where it was issued. And there are thousands of such emitters across the country, many of which are likely to be in your own community.
Here are some of the best examples:
Your bank or credit union
You should be able to cash or deposit a money order at any bank or credit union that you have a banking relationship with.
In addition, you should be able to redeem or deposit the money order free of charge. (You may be able to cash a money order at a bank that you don’t have an account with, but you will likely be charged a fee.)
Using your bank or credit union has several advantages:
- You can either cash or deposit the payment order.
- After the deposit, the money is available for online payments and later withdrawals.
- As mentioned earlier, you should be able to redeem or deposit the money order for free.
- Since you are likely to have other business with your bank or credit union, you don’t need to take a special trip to cash or deposit the money order.
- Your bank or credit union acts as a “second pair of eyes” to check the money order for potential fraud. And since you are a customer, he may be able to help you resolve it.
United States Post Office
The U.S. Post Office is one of the most common places to buy money orders and pay with cash.
Under the U.S. Postal Service Fee Schedule, you pay $ 1.25 to redeem a money order up to $ 500 and $ 1.70 for a money order up to $ 1,000. The fee is only $ 0.45 for military postal orders from military facilities. However, if the money order was issued by the U.S. Postal Service, there is generally no charge for redemption.
One of the main advantages of cashing a money order at the Post Office is that they have locations in virtually every community across the country.
Western Union and MoneyGram
Western Union and MoneyGram are two of the most common money order issuers. Many of the outlets where you can buy and cash money orders have the service through either of these companies.
Western Union is a frequent money order issuer and is widely used in retail locations across the country. However, not every location that sells money orders will redeem them. You will need to search for a Western Union agent on the Western Union location page and then call to make sure they will honor money orders as well.
The fees for redeeming a money order vary by location. However, you may not need to pay a fee to a Western Union agent if the money order was provided by Western Union.
MoneyGram works in a similar way to Western Union. They have many thousands agent locations across the country and will generally – but not always – execute money orders where they will be offered for purchase. Look for a MoneyGram location again, contact that location and ask if they also cash orders.
The fee situation is the same as with Western Union. There may be no fee to redeem a money order issued by MoneyGram, but fees will apply to other issuers. Check with your local MoneyGram agent again to see if there are any charges for the particular money order you are trying to redeem.
Note, however, that just because a retail location sells money orders, it doesn’t have to cash them. There is a long list of companies that sell them, but the list of those that cash them is much shorter.
Some of the key local agents that work with either Western Union or MoneyGram to buy and cash money orders include the following:
Many people ask, can you cash a money order at Walmart? The good news is that Walmart both sells and cashes MoneyGram money orders (they don’t state whether they can cash money orders from other issuers, so call the store to verify before you try).
They charge a $ 4 fee to redeem a money order. This, of course, applies to each money order that you present if you have been paid in multiple money orders.
Most Walmart stores will process MoneyGram money orders in cash. However, be sure to check out each place you plan to visit to make sure it is.
Grocery stores – Kroger
Not only are grocery stores a common source for purchasing money orders, but you can often cash them at one too. Be careful though, as many stores that sell money orders will not cash them. Safeway and Publix are two examples.
However, a frequently asked question is “Does Kroger handle money orders?” For your benefit, Kroger, the largest grocery chain in the country, is a major source of money order redemption. They work with Western Union money orders. You will need to check with the local store as fees and limits vary by state.
There may be other grocery chains that cash money orders as well. However, before trying, first call the store and see if it does. Also, make sure they honor the type of money order you have. If they work with Western Union they are unlikely to be cashing MoneyGram money orders.
Check cashing services
Check cashing services specialize in providing banking services to those who do not have regular banking relationships. This includes both issuing and redeeming money orders.
However, the main disadvantage of using check cashing services is that they charge the highest possible fees. When attempting to cash a money order with a check cashing service, you must pay 10% or more of the money order amount. Many also have a minimum fee for smaller money order amounts that can easily exceed 10%.
As a general rule, check cashing services should be viewed as a last resort, and only if you are willing to post a substantial portion of the money order to pay the fees.
Final thoughts on where to cash money orders near me
If you are paying by money order, your bank or credit union should be your first choice for cash. Since you have an account relationship with them, you have the option of making the money order either in cash or by deposit. This is usually free of charge.
The next best option is to redeem a money order at an agent location that works with that particular issuer.
For example, if you are paid using a Western Union money order, you should cash it with a Western Union agent. The same should apply to MoneyGram money orders. If so, you should be able to cash the money order without paying a fee. Same situation with a US Post money order. When you receive one, it should be redeemed at the post office.
Only use check cashing services as a last resort as the fees are ridiculously high.