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. Take a look at some fees you can expect to pay to process money orders.
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. Banks such as Bank of America may not offer money orders, only cashier’s checks, so it is best to call a representative to learn your options. The same can be said about many other banks, therefore it’s best to call to find out whether or not you can obtain a money order from a bank.
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 percent 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. For instance, 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. Each bank is different, so do not get discouraged if your bank does not offer a money order for free or at a reduced price.
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 it is suggested to 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: $0.55 fee for money orders between $0.01-$500, and $1 fee for money orders between $500.01-$1,000
- Location 2: $0.80 fee for money orders between $0.01-$500, and $1 fee for money orders between $500.01-$1,000
- Location 3: $0.75 fee for money orders between $0.01-$299.99, and $1 fee for money orders between $300-$1,000
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 fee associated with cashing money orders from Western Union ranges between 1.10 percent to 3 percent, depending on the amount. A representative informed me to go into a local branch to find out how much will be taken out. This is because the rates fluctuate so much from location to location. To find the best rate on where to cash your money order, it is best to call several locations in your area so you can get the most money back after your deposit.
USPS domestic and international money orders
The current price for domestic money orders at USPS are as follows:
- $1.25 for an amount of $0.01 to $500
- $1.65 for an amount of $500.01 to $1,000
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 $2.90 for the money orders through the United States Postal Service. The first money order would cost $1.65 since it is $1,000 and the other would cost $1.25 since it is $500. In the instance that Joe Money would have to send $1,750 to his brother, it would cost him $3.30 since both money orders would each cost $1.65.
International money order rates include:
- $4.50 for any amount
International money orders from the United States Postal Service can be cashed in 29 countries. So be aware of where you can send money orders to avoid setbacks.
If you are going to attempt to cash a money order at a USPS location, you may run into difficulty. USPS may not be able to help you cash a money order if the amount exceeds $1,000. Someone attempting to cash a money order worth tens of thousands of dollars or more should consider visiting a bank or another location instead.
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.
Be wary of money order scams
If you receive a money order in the mail from someone who you are not familiar with, chances are it is a fake. Educate yourself on how to detect a fake money order, that way you’re never tricked into cashing a fake money order. If you do end up cashing a fake money order, you may be liable for the money spent when it comes back rejected. It could take up to a couple of weeks for your bank to determine whether or not a money order is fake.