Money Order Fees Compared at USPS, Western Union, and More

Gerald Morales

Updated on Mon Jul 28, 2014

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.

money order fees image

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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.


Post a Comment

  • Guest

    Pretty sure USPS has raised its fees on Money Orders (and everything else) in 2014.

    • Gerald Morales

      Yes they did, domestic money orders were raised 5 cents!

    • Jim

      Walmart in my city charges 70 cents, not 60.

  • Robin

    Bank of America DOES offer Money Orders……. I hate reading articles where the information wasn’t fact-checked.

    • Gerald Morales

      When I chatted with a representative via the Bank of America website I was told otherwise. The truth is Bank of America does offer money orders, but not in every state.

      This was pulled directly from the Bank of America website:
      “We offer money orders in most states. To find the exact fee for your
      account, please call the number on your statement or checks, or the
      number for Bank of America in your local telephone directory.”

      • rollins3490

        be thorough

  • Robert Mauro

    One note that’s probably an important decider for (a) someone purchasing a money order, and (b) a seller accepting one:

    Postal Money Orders, by law, MUST be cleared on the next business day – the whole amount. Inotherwords, no hold times, no staggered clearing (ie: $200 first day, $500 the next, etc).

    In the United States, no other money order instrument has a guaranteed clearing time and are subject to the bank’s whim.

    Of course, if someone has an account with a favorable hold time policy, it might not be an issue… but many banks place a hold on all non cash deposits greater than $500, especially for their base accounts.

  • Guest

    You state that the USPS does not cash money orders, but per their website they cash USPS Money Orders at any post office in the US.

    • Gerald Morales

      I think you may be confused. USPS does cash money orders, but not for high amounts. If anyone has a money order above $1,000, it may be wiser to visit a bank to withdraw cash.

      • Jim

        There’s no such thing as a money order over $1000, as the article clearly states.

        • Stupid Jim

          Can you read English or not? If not, go home and learn before you comment!

          • Karl

            Hi Stupid Jim. You should learn. Jim has a right. Gerald Morales said that the maximum amount of Postal Money Order is $1000.
            Later he said that USPS does not cash Postal Money Orders above $1000. That’s why Jim was surprised. Is that clear?

  • Chaz Jones

    USPS money orders are a bit steep compared to most others that I know about. Last week, I purchased a M.O. from a mini P.O. located inside a nearby Safeway Supermarket here in WA St. and since I didn’t have the time to shop around and needed one ASAP, I was flabbergasted when the clerk told me that my M.O. for just $5.00 would cost $1.25. I gulped and almost said forget it, but decided to pay the buck twenty five anyway b/c I was pressed for time, but I was not in the least bit happy about it I can tell you that. Now I’m not a tightwad by any means, but $1.25 for a $5.00 M.O.?, come on. I expected to pay no more than $0.75 at most.

    The reason I’m here is to check just to make sure I wasn’t being cheated, b/c the fee does seem a bit steep as I said. Turns out the fee is as she stated it according to the info here. This however does not mean that I won’t use other services at the P.O., just means I will shop around the next time I need a M.O. which isn’t that often. As a retired Senior on a tight budget, I have to watch what I spend and ‘am always looking for savings where ever I can.