Credit Card Basics

Can You Buy a Money Order with a Credit Card?

Yes, you can buy a money order with a credit card and you can also use cash, check or a debit card to purchase a money order. Banks and credit card issuers view this as a cash advance which can make it an expensive purchase that includes a fee depending on the amount of the money order.

Why Should I Use a Money Order?

A money order is an easy prepaid alternate form of payment to send money through the mail or to use instead of cash or a check. Money orders also can be used to avoid sending a large amount of cash through the mail which is not the best choice to make.

If you don't have a bank account you can use a money order to make a payment. Money orders also alleviate any identity theft concerns of sharing a personal check with someone as they can't see your bank account number.

How Do You Fill out a Money Order?

You can fill out a money order the same way you write a check. Once you confirm the amount you need the money order for, you fill out your contact information on the front of the money order along with the contact information for the person who will receive the money order.

Just like a check you can write in what the money order is for if you want to note that. Once all the information is added, you sign the front of the money order and then send it or give it to the intended person or business.

Where Can I Buy a Money Order?

You can buy money orders at several places these days like the Post Office, grocery stores, retail stores, banks, credit unions, check cashing stores and more. Money orders require a fee that you pay upfront when you purchase a money order based on the amount you need it for.

The fees can vary from places like Chase Bank or Wells Fargo, the Post Office or you can buy money orders at stores including Rite Aid, 7/11, Publix, Walmart, Meijer, Albertsons, Kmart, CVS, Kroger, Fred Meyer, MoneyGram or Western Union. The fees can range from as little as $.60 to nearly $2 so it pays to compare prices. You can't buy money orders online yet as issuers want purchases to be made in person.

How Do You Cash a Money Order?

You can cash a money order the same as a check by signing the back of it and taking it to a bank, credit union or check cashing store. You can also take it to the same place it was issued from such as the Post Office, Western Union, MoneyGram, Amscot or even Walmart.

You have to endorse a money order just like you do for a check by signing the back of it and showing the proper identification. If you don't have a bank account you can try to go to the same places above or where the money order was issued.

Do Money Orders Expire?

No, money orders do not expire. However, depending on the state you purchased the money order in and where the money order was purchased there could be a cost to cash it if you wait too long.

This can be the case if you don't cash the money order within 1-3 years of the purchase date it could get reported to the state and considered to be abandoned property or unclaimed money. The US Post Office had more than $26 million a year in uncashed money orders in 2016.

Make sure to read the conditions described on the back of the money order listing any possible service charges. Any cost charged to cash your money order will come out of the total amount of the money order.

If you know that you won't be cashing a money order for a while then you should consider purchasing your money order from the Post Office as they will never expire from there. You can also visit the place that issued the money order and ask what their rules are when it pertains to cashing an older money order.

Money orders are a fairly inexpensive alternate payment option and still popular. The US Post Office reported that over 6 million American households purchased about 100 million money orders with a face value of roughly $21 billion in 2015.

Before you purchase a money order, make sure you understand the pros and cons and choose an issuer that fits your financial needs best.