Kristina Udice
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For many younger people, the phrase "money order" has never entered their mind. They seemed so obsolete to me when I first learned about it. I mean — who needs a money order when they’ve got Venmo? But there are actually a lot of reasons to use a money order, and once you understand how to do it, it makes a lot of sense.

Money orders are a safe, secure, and reliable way to send and receive money, but the whole process is shrouded in a bit of mystery. Here’s everything you need to know about how to fill out a money order so that the next time you need to send money, you’ll know exactly what to do.

What is a money order?

A money order is a type of verified, pre-paid payment. It’s safer than cash or check because it’s been verified by a third party, so you know the money is real and exists. It is also safer because you and the receiver must sign it to ensure the funds get allocated. These paper documents are a fast and relatively cheap way to send money across the world.

How to fill out a money order. 

Once you understand the basics of what a money order is, filling one out is generally a breeze. 

  1. The first thing you should fill out is the recipient’s information. On the “pay to the order of” line, write their name. This will ensure that they are the only ones able to receive and cash the money order. 
  2. The next section is the purchaser section. This is where your information goes. On this line, you will write the address at which the recipient can reach you in case there are any problems with the money order.
  3. If the paperwork you’re filling out has a “payment for/account number” field, this is where you will put your account number where the funds will be taken from. This is usually only necessary if paying a bill and not using cash.
  4. The last, and most vital, step of the process is signing the money order. If you don’t sign it, it’s unusable. 
  5. Once you’ve filled out the paperwork, paid for the money order, and signed, make sure you save your receipt just in case anything comes up. This is your proof of payment.

Who is the purchaser on a money order? 

The purchaser on a money order — sometimes called the drawer — is the person purchasing the order to send money to someone else (the "payee"). In other words, if you are buying the money order, you are the purchaser. 

Can a money order be cashed without purchaser's signature? 

No. In order to be cashed, a money order needs the purchaser's signature. 

How do I check the status of a money order?

If you bought a Western Union or MoneyGram money order, you can find out if it was cashed by calling a toll-free number. If you got your money order from USPS, you need to submit a form and pay a modest fee to track your order.  About a month after purchasing, your provider will send a copy of the endorsed money order or a notice that it hasn't been cashed. With most services, if the money order is still outstanding after 60 days, you can cancel it and get refunded. 

How to get a money order. 

Where can you get a money order?

Grocery stores, pharmacies, and convenience stores often offer to help you send a money order. If you go to these stores and see signs offering money orders, you’re in the clear. Often times these places will offer money order services at the customer service desks. 

The post office is another place where it’s easy to get a money order. It’s also really safe to send a money order from these institutions as they are accepted around the world. Your local bank or credit union is a reliable option for money orders. They usually cost more when done here, but it’s the easiest choice for many especially if you have a bank account with this bank. 

Western Union was created almost entirely for sending and receiving money, so you know that if you can find a Western Union, your money will be sent safely.

How can you pay for a money order?

The biggest advantage of a money order is knowing the money itself exists, so the best way to pay for a money order is with cash. When using cash, it is obvious that the money exists and it can be verified with ease. Cash is also the easiest form of payment to be accepted from your money order provider.

Writing a personal check is usually not the way to go, but using checks as a form of payment is a possibility. If you’re going to send a check, however, you might prefer going to your bank which can verify the funds exist. Going through a grocery store or post office might be worrisome because they can’t readily verify the funds, and by sending a check the merchant now has access to personal information you might otherwise want out in the world. 

Another way to pay with checks is by filling out a check for cash back. You could go to a grocery store or other big chain and request cash back via a check. This will then give you cash to pay for the money order. Because most money issuers don’t like accepting personal checks, using a traveler’s check might be necessary. 

But using checks can be risky, so it’s best to avoid them if you can. Another way to pay for a money order is through credit card or debit card cash advance. This isn’t ideal either, as you will most likely pay high fees and interest.

What do you need to send a money order?

When it comes to the essentials for filling out a money order, the list is rather short. You don’t need a drivers licence or U.S. social security number. You don’t need financial statement or even a checking account. All you need is the purchaser’s address, the payee address, and some cold, hard cash.

Seriously, that’s all you need and you can send a money order anywhere, to anyone, at anytime. Talk about simpler times.

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