Money orders are a solid form of payment that is accepted just about anywhere. Do not get them confused with a cashier’s check, which is only obtainable from your bank.
You can get a money order from the post office, a bank, Western Union, and grocery store. There is a small fee for purchasing a money order. This fee can range anywhere from $0.50 to $10 and up, depending on where you get one.Finding the right place for your money order purchase depends on the amount you are willing to pay, where you need to send it, and when the money order needs to reach its destination.
The problem with figuring out the cost for money orders is that there is no set amount from most financial institutions to help you determine the cost. Most banks inform you to get into contact with your local branch to figure out if they provide money orders or not. Banks such as Bank of America do not offer money orders, only cashier’s checks.
Take a look at some fees you can expect to pay to process money orders.
Money order fees from banks
Since many financial institutions do not list an amount for money order fees, the best way to determine how much your local bank charges is to find a nearby branch. Most banks charge $5, $10, or 10% of the total amount on the money order. The local (Los Angeles) Wells Fargo, Chase, and U.S. Bank charge a flat rate of $5 and only offers domestic money orders.
Money orders are waived by some banks if you have a special account. Wells Fargo waives money orders if you have a preferred checking or Wells Fargo At Work Checking Account. Chase will waive the fee if you have a premiere or private account with the bank. U.S. Bank waives the fee for those that have a platinum checking account.
Anyone that has a special checking account should check if their bank offers free money orders. You might as well take advantage of any perks that you have with your checking account.
Western Union fees
Just like with banks, Western Union does not provide a set amount for a money order. A representative explained the rate varies by location. However, in general, these fees could range anywhere from $0.50 to $1.50 and more. International money orders are available, but verify with the financial institution where the funds will be deposited to ensure the transaction can be completed.
As an example, three local Los Angeles Western Unions were contacted by MyBankTracker. Here are the rates:
- Location 1: $0.50 fee for money orders between $0.01-$500.00, and $1.00 fee for money orders between $500.01-$1,000.00
- Location 2: $0.69 fee for money orders between $0.01-$500.00, and $0.89 fee for money orders between $500.01-$1,000.00
- Location 3: $0.75 fee for money orders between $0.01-$299.99, and $1.00 fee for money orders between $300.00-$1,000.00
The major benefit of obtaining money orders from Western Union is that you do not need an account to create one. Western Union also allows customers to deposit money orders in order to withdraw cash. Most banks require that you have an account with them to get a money order. An additional upside is that Western Unions in your area are usually open every day, including weekends, whereas most banks and the post office are closed on Sundays.
The post office does not cash money orders. The fee associated with cashing money orders from Western Union ranges between 1.10%-3.00%, depending on the amount of the money order. A representative informed me that in order to determine the amount that would be taken from the cashed money order it is suggested to go into a local branch. This is because the rates fluctuate so much from location to location, so it is hard to determine how much it would cost to cash a money order from Western Union.
USPS domestic and international money orders
The current price for domestic money orders at USPS are as follows:
- $1.20 for an amount of $0.01 to $500.00
- $1.60 for an amount of $500.01 to $1,000.00
Domestic money orders only come in the maximum amount of $1,000. Anyone that needs to send more than $1,000 will need to get two separate money orders. For example, if Joe Money needs to send $1,500 to his brother, he would pay a total of $2.80 for the money orders through the United States Postal Service. The first money order would cost $1.60 since it is $1000.00 and the other would cost $1.20 since it is $500.00. In the instance that Joe Money would have to send $1,750 to his brother, it would cost him $3.20 since both money orders would each cost $1.60.
International money order rates include:
- $4.50 for any amount
International money orders from the United States Postal Service are only cashable in 29 countries. So be aware of where you can send money orders to avoid setbacks.
Other places to get money orders
Grocery stores and department stores also offer inexpensive money orders so be sure to check with them and their rates. Walmart money orders are only $0.60 for a value of up to $1,000. CVS Pharmacy also offers money orders for $0.99 each with a maximum value of $500.00.