Best Places to Get a Money Order

Need to get a money order but don't know where to get one, how they work, or how much it'll cost you?

We're here to help!

We'll explain how money orders work, why you might want one, and then explain the best places to buy a money order as well as the best place to cash them in if you've been paid with one.

Either way, you will leave here knowing everything you need to know about money orders!

How Do Money Orders Work?

Money orders are really simple. You go to a store that offers them and you “buy” them. In most cases, you want to find the places nearest you to buy it because the prices are so very similar.

You are essentially paying a company, like Western Union, to hold the money and give you a “money order.” You can then take this money order and give it to someone else as a form of payment. The money order is backed by the company that issued it.

You can buy a money order using cash or a debit card. Sometimes you can use a credit card, but that's rare unless you're willing to pay an extra fee (plus sometimes it's coded as a cash advance, which is more expensive).

With a money order, you have to put in the name of the person you're paying as well as your own. In this way, it's a lot like a personal check. You may also have to provide your address and phone number. Since you are making a purchase, you will also get a receipt for your money order as well as a tracking number, which you can use to check on the order.

There are only three companies that produce money orders.

When you buy the money orders at different stores, you're usually buying from one of these issuers of money orders:

  • MoneyGram,
  • Western Union,
  • and the United States Postal Service (not technically a company, but you know what I mean)

Do You Really Need a Money Order?

Sometimes someone will ask for a money order because that's all they know as a form of payment.

Money orders are a “secured” type of payment (more on this when I explain how they work below). If you're buying something and the buyer wants a secured type of payment, you could always go with cash. A money order costs money but cash is “free” in the sense that you don't have to pay, you just have to carry that amount.

Generally speaking, if the price is over $1,000 (often the limit on a single money order, cashier's checks usually have no limit) then you may want to use a cashier's check.

If it's under $1,000, then you'll probably want a money order or cash. Money orders are cheaper than cashier's checks.

Why Would You Use a Money Order?

There are a lot of situations where you might use a money order. It operates a lot like a personal check so it's good for those situations where the person doesn't have a checking account (like paying a utility that doesn't accept credit cards) or if you want to pay someone but not reveal your checking information.

If you want to send money through the mail, a money order is much better than cash. If you're concerned the letter might be lost or stolen, you can avoid revealing your checking information if you used a personal check.

Finally, since you prepaid the money order, the recipient doesn't have to worry about whether the funds are there. If you use a personal check, you don't have that assurance.

Best Places to Get a Money Order

Every place you get a money order will issue it from one of two places – MoneyGram or Western Union. The Postal Money Order is issued only by the post office.

This means the pricing is very similar and differ only by what the store adds on as their own fee. That's why I recommend finding the one nearest you.

In most instances, the best place will be the closest one since the fees are often less than a couple dollars. You could use that up in gas driving around!

Wal-Mart

Wal-Mart MoneyCenters charge up to $0.88 per money order, based on the location of the Wal-Mart. They issue MoneyGram and require a valid government ID for purchases over $1,000. If you want to cash a money order at Wal-Mart, it'll cost you a fee and the money order had to have come from a Wal-Mart.

(Wal-Mart is listed first, rather than alphabetically, because they have locations practically everywhere – you probably live near a Wal-Mart)

7-Eleven

7-Eleven Financial Services offers money orders issued by both companies, depending on the location. You can't cash money orders at 7-Eleven.

  • Type of Money Order: MoneyGram or Western Union (depends on location)
  • Fee: $1-5
  • Amounts: Up to $1,000.00
  • 7-Eleven Store Locator

CVS

CVS Pharmacy sells MoneyGram money orders with a $500 limit and $0.99 fee – CVS Pharmacy will not cash a MoneyGram money order though.

Giant

Giant sells Western Union money orders at the customer service desk with limits and fees that vary based on location. There are some reports that some stores have limits in the thousands of dollars, though we have yet to see that in person. Giant does not cash money orders.

  • Type of Money Order: Western Union
  • Fee: $1-2, depending on location
  • Amounts: Up to $1,000
  • GiantStore Locator

K-Mart

Not every K-Mart sells money orders, you need to call and find out if your particular location offers them. If they do, it's a Western Union money order with a $500 limit and a fee that ranges from $0.69 to $1.25 depending on the location.

  • Type of Money Order: Western Union
  • Fee: $0.69 – $1.25, depending on location
  • Amounts: Up to $500
  • K-Mart Store Locator

Kroger

Kroger has their own Money Services that are included in all of their Kroger Family stores (City Market, King Soopers, Fry's Food, FredMeyer, Owen's, Baker's, Ralphs, Dillons, Pay Less, Gerbes, Smith's, QFC) and offer money orders powered by Western Union.

  • Type of Money Order: Western Union
  • Fee: Around $0.70 but will vary based on location
  • Amounts: $500 or $1,000.00, based on location
  • Kroger Store Locator

Kwik Trip

Kwik Trip sells MoneyGram money orders up to $500 for just $0.99 each with a limit of two $500 money orders per person (cash is the only accepted form of payment). Kwik Trip does not cash money orders.

  • Type of Money Order: MoneyGram
  • Fee: $0.99 each
  • Amounts: $500 per money order, $1,000 limit per person
  • Kwik Trip Locator

Meijer

Meijer sells Western Union money orders up to $500 for $0.65 each. Meijer doesn't cash money orders at any of its locations.

Rite Aid

Rite Aid sells Western Union money orders with a $500 maximum and a fee of just 99 cents. Rite Aid doesn't cash money orders though.

Royal Farms

Royal Farms sells MoneyGram money orders up to $300 for $1.50 each and cash is the only accepted form of payment. Royal Farms doesn't cash money orders at any of its locations.

Vons

Vons sells both MoneyGram and Western Union money orders. For the MoneyGram money orders, you can buy up to $500 and the fee is $0.89 each. For Western Union money orders, there is no limit but there is the standard $1,000 per money order limit set by Western union – the fee will range from $0.99 to $1.50 based on the value of the money order. They only accept cash as payment. Vons doesn't cash money orders at any of its locations.

  • Type of Money Order: MoneyGram and Western Union
  • Fee: $0.89 for MoneyGram, $0.99-$1.50 for Western Union
  • Amounts: $500 limit for MoneyGram, no limit for Western Union
  • Vons Store Locator

USPS

The United States Postal Service is one of the most expensive places to get a money order. They charge based on the value of the money order. The fee is $1.25 for money orders valued $500 and below. The fee is $1.70 for amounts above $500 up to $1,000.

  • Type of Money Order: United States Postal Service
  • Fee: $1.25 – $1.70
  • Amounts: $0.01 – $1,000.00
  • USPS Locator

Local Check Cashing

Many local check cashing operations, like Advance America and Ace Cash Express, have partnerships with MoneyGram or Western Union.

For example, Ace Cash Express issues money orders with fees starting at $0.89 each. The pricing and availability vary by location so you'll always want to call them to find out specifics.

This is the case with many check cashing places too.

Where to Cash a Money Order

When you want to cash a money order, you can bring it to:

  • Your bank or credit union (you can also cash it with an ATM)
  • A check cashing store
  • A grocery store

Generally, but not always, you can cash a money order at places where you buy money orders. So if you buy a money order from Wal-Mart, you can often cash it at a Wal-Mart. There are exceptions, like CVS and 7-Eleven, where you can't. That's because they are smaller places that don't carry a lot of cash on hand (or don't want to), so they won't cash them.

Otherwise, the best places to cash a money order is at a bank. If you are an account holder, you may be able to cash it for free or a reduced fee. If you aren't, they will still cash it but charge you a $5-$10 fee depending on the bank. Call up your nearest bank and ask about the fee. Since a money order is a secured form of payment, they will happily do this for a small fee (unlike trying to cash a personal check, which is not secure).

You can also go to a check cashing store but they will usually charge a much higher fee, sometimes a percentage of the money order, and that's often a very bad deal because money orders are secured.

Good luck!

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Jim Wang

About Jim Wang

Jim Wang is a thirty-something father of three who is a frequent contributor to Forbes and Vanguard's Blog. He has also been fortunate to have appeared in the New York Times, Baltimore Sun, Entrepreneur, and Marketplace Money.

Jim has a B.S. in Computer Science and Economics from Carnegie Mellon University, an M.S. in Information Technology - Software Engineering from Carnegie Mellon University, as well as a Masters in Business Administration from Johns Hopkins University. His approach to personal finance is that of an engineer, breaking down complex subjects into bite-sized easily understood concepts that you can use in your daily life.

One of his favorite tools (here's my treasure chest of tools,, everything I use) is Personal Capital, which enables him to manage his finances in just 15-minutes each month. They also offer financial planning, such as a Retirement Planning Tool that can tell you if you're on track to retire when you want. It's free.

He is also diversifying his investment portfolio by adding a little bit of real estate. But not rental homes, because he doesn't want a second job, it's diversified small investments in a few commercial properties and a farm in Illinois via AcreTrader.

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