If you ever find yourself needing to mail a payment, a money order is a secure way to do just that. It’s safer than mailing cash or a check, since it can be tracked and canceled, and it’s addressed to a specific recipient — it can’t be cashed out by just anyone. Some sellers even prefer them, since they’re paid for in advance, meaning they can’t “bounce” like a check can if there are insufficient funds in the account at the time it’s cashed. Money orders may not be the fastest or most convenient way to send a payment overseas, but they certainly have their place.
However, if you’re making an international money transfer, there may be a better option than a money order. Online money transfer services like TransferWise may be faster, cheaper and easier. It’s important to do your research so you know you’re making the right choice for your money. Read on to learn what you need to know about purchasing, using and sending a money order from the United State Postal Service (USPS).
According to the USPS website, “Money orders are a secure payment method. They are convenient, affordable, and widely accepted. Money orders are a good way to send cash that never expires.” Basically, they act like checks, so they’re more secure to mail than cash. But unlike checks, they’re paid for upfront so they can’t bounce by the time the recipient tries to cash one.¹
Money orders can be delivered by hand or sent through the mail. They can be used to send money domestically or overseas. If they’re lost or stolen, they can be canceled and replaced. In short, they’re one of the most secure ways you can send someone money if you need to send it via mail.
A money order purchased from USPS is very inexpensive, but you’re very limited on how much you can send. You can only send up to $1,000 domestically and $700 internationally (and only $500 to El Salvador or Guyana). Here’s what you can expect to pay for your money order at a post office:
|Amount being sent||Cost of money order ¹ ²|
|Domestic money order $0.01 to $500.00||$1.25|
|Domestic money order $500.01 to $1000.00||$1.70|
|International money order up to $700 ( $700 is the highest amount you can send )||$9.50|
You can also buy a USPS money order at a military facility. Postal Military Money Orders cost $0.45 regardless of the amount being sent.²
You can send money to 28 countries using a USPS money order; the full list can be found here.⁵ If you aren’t sure if your money order will be accepted in the country you’re sending it to, check in advance, because it could take time to have your money order refunded if you need to cancel it. For most of the countries that accept USPS money orders, the limit is $700 per order. The limit is $500 per order for El Salvador and Guyana.² Keep in mind that when you send a money order overseas, it has to be sent via mail, which can take a long time to arrive, depending on the destination.
Should you want to send more money or shop around for good exchange rates, you may want to look around. For example, a newcomer in international money transfers and finance, TransferWise, lets you send money at the mid-market rate in 59 countries. For people with more global needs they also offer a multi-currency account and debit card. You can also generate local account details in the United Kingdom, Europe, Australia and New Zealand — essentially meaning, that you can pay and get paid just the same way a local person would in those countries and easily convert to and from you home currency. It’s all made even more appealing by the fact that TransferWise does not have any sign-up or maintenance fees. If any of that sounds good, you may want to take a look here.
To send a money order from USPS, you’ll need to: ²
- Go to a US Postal Service branch to buy your money order
- Fill out the money order
- Pay for the order with either cash, debit card, or traveler’s check
- Either deliver the money order to the recipient in person or mail it to an address where they can receive it
A USPS money order needs to be filled out the same way as any other money order — there’s not a lot of difference in the information you need based on where you buy your money order. You will need to: ² ³
- Write the payee’s name in the “Pay to” field. Do this first, because that way, if you lose the money order, no one else can find it and cash it. Make sure you have the correct spelling of the recipient’s name because it can’t be changed after the money order is purchased.
- Fill out your information where it says “From” and the field for your address as well.
- Sign the front of the money order. This makes it valid. Don’t sign the back — that’s where the recipient needs to sign in order to cash it.
- Keep your receipt. If the money order gets lost or damaged or needs to be replaced for any reason, you’ll need the receipt to track and cancel it.
On the USPS website, you can enter the serial number of your money order (which can be found on the receipt) to check its status, track or cancel it or report it lost or stolen.⁴
When sending money overseas, you have a lot of options. It’s important to choose the one that’s going to be best for you, taking into account the convenience, the speed and the cost of the transfer. Hopefully, this guide helped you get closer to a decision.
All sources checked 15 July 2019
This publication is provided for general information purposes only and is not intended to cover every aspect of the topics with which it deals. It is not intended to amount to advice on which you should rely. You must obtain professional or specialist advice before taking, or refraining from, any action on the basis of the content in this publication. The information in this publication does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from TransferWise Limited or its affiliates. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether express or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.
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