how to fill out a money order 1

How to Fill Out and Use a Money Order

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Today, we have a bewildering array of options when it comes to handing over money: checks, credit and debit cards, Paypal, wire transfers, more cryptocurrencies than you can shake a blockchain at, and of course hard cash. Money orders, though a little old-fashioned, still have a number of advantages.

Making the best use of them, of course, starts with knowing how to fill out a money order. This isn’t complicated at all, but making sure that you know how to complete every important detail can save you money and even time.

The Only Guide You’ll Ever Need: How to Fill out a Money Order

As it happens, money orders are some of the simplest financial documents to use. This doesn’t mean you can do so carelessly, though: getting something wrong can cause a delay in payment, prevent the recipient from cashing it, or even result in a financial loss to the person drawing it. Here’s what you need to keep in mind; just understand that not every place that sells money orders uses the same layout like this sample. The main points are always the same, though.

how to fill out a money order example
Source: Dvirtygirl, Flickr / Example
  1. Go to the teller or customer service counter and simply tell them what amount you need. They will then print this out on the form and accept payment. This may be in cash, with a debit card or from a national bank account you hold there; checks are usually not accepted for money orders.
  2. Fill in the recipient’s name where it says “Pay to the order of”. This can be either a company or a person, but it’s important to pay attention here. Whoever wants to cash it has to positively identify themselves, so writing “Bob Doolittle” when the name on her driver’s license is “Roberta” may cause problems (this rarely happens, though). You can, if you want, write “To cash”, but this will not work out well if the money order is stolen.
  3. Write down your and the recipient’s address. It’s often a good idea to include this information, for example, if the payee needs to contact you, but not all financial institutions that sell money orders require you to do so.
  4. If needed, include something that identifies you on the “Account Number” or “Memo” line. This could be an invoice number, your name or a description of what you’re paying for – just make sure the recipient can figure out who’s trying to send them money.
  5. In case there’s space for a signature on the front of the form, that is for you to confirm that everything is correct. Do not sign the back, though: this is how the payee accepts (endorses) the payment.
  6. Importantly: keep the receipt! You can, with a few restrictions, contact customer support to cancel or replace a money order that’s gone missing. Many issuers also allow you to see whether it has been cashed or not, though you’ll need to use registered mail if you want to see its progress in transit. Without a receipt or at least the money order’s serial number, however, you’ll have difficulty getting anywhere.

The Benefits: Why People Like to Use Money Orders

Money orders have been in common use since the 1830s. What continues to make them so popular?

  • Security

Unlike with checks, you’ll generally write the payee’s name as soon as you receive the document, making theft less of a risk. Money orders also don’t contain personal financial information like account numbers and even home addresses, protecting the payer.

  • Convenience and Cost

With post offices, grocery stores and several other financial institutions all selling money orders, sometimes at a fee of only $1, you don’t need to have a checking account or visit your closest bank branch. Sending a money order by mail instead of doing a wire transfer may save you $20 or more.

  • Generally Accepted

Many sellers, landlords, and companies no longer accept personal checks. Unlike writing a check, the person taking out a money order pays their bank or other organization the full amount when they fill out the money order. This means the funds are already waiting for the payee and the document can’t bounce (money orders can be canceled for a refund by the person who bought them, though this generally takes about a month to happen and has to be requested before the document is cashed). Money orders are seen as reliable, even in foreign countries, while costing less than many other secure options.

how to fill out a money order sign
Source: Studio TDES, Flickr

When You Should Try Other Payment Methods Instead

Money orders are a useful tool, but like everything except kittens, they’re not perfect. In some cases, using a cashier’s check or electronic payment may be safer, cheaper or both.

  • Large Purchases

Most places that issue money orders will not do so for more than $1,000, while only the first $200 will be available the next day. This makes them a good option for buying a new blanket from Etsy, but perhaps not for paying your rent.

  • International Payments to Unknown Vendors

The paper trail for money orders is not long enough for anyone to investigate fraud effectively. Especially with online purchases, Paypal or credit cards offer better protection against scams. Sending money abroad to someone you know is fine, though, as their identity will be verified and they can be paid in local currency.

  • Purchasing Investments, or Any Time You’re Unsure

While it may seem like knowing how to do a money order is all a payer or payee needs in most cases, they are not totally immune to fraud. Using them to make several large deposits is frowned on since their cash-based, somewhat anonymous nature makes it possible to use them for money laundering. Also, if anyone you’re dealing with tells you an implausible story, or wants to send you a money order for more than they owe and ask you to return the balance in cash, it’s best to be cautious. Money orders are sometimes forged, too; if anything seems fishy, you can try to confirm their authenticity by phoning up the issuing company.

Filling out a Money Order Is Something Everyone Can Do

Some people find the simple act of walking into a bank a little intimidating, and filling out multi-page forms they don’t quite understand is the last thing they want to do. Others, for various reasons, have trouble getting a bank account. Still, others prefer to deal in cash but don’t want to take the risk of it getting lost or stolen in the mail. For many online shoppers and sellers, reasonably secure alternatives are just too expensive.

Anyone who finds themselves in one of these situations can benefit from learning how to use a money order. Simply understanding your financial options better can often save you money, and we here at ProMoneySavings always strive to help you with the best advice possible.




    18 thoughts on “How to Fill Out and Use a Money Order

    1. Tolledo says:

      Thanks for the sample… That’s more useful than just words without visual explanation.

      1. David says:

        Thank you!

    2. User says:

      Sorry, but is it the best method now?
      I just wanna know.

      1. David says:

        Yes, it’s the best method. The most important thing – it’s a working method.

    3. Robert says:

      This is a useful guide on how to fill out a money order. I had to use one to make a purchase on behalf of my company earlier this year, and I wish had an article like this on hand at the time. Alas, I’m back to make sure I do it correctly a second time. Many sellers and companies seem to prefer them, so this knowledge is good to have.

      1. David says:

        Thank you!

    4. Danny says:

      Everything you wanted to know about how to fill in a money order but were afraid to ask! That’s just what this excellent article provides, along with tips on alternate methods of payment, the benefits of money orders, and even info on banking, banks (, and budgets. Will definitely recommend to my friends and family.

      1. David says:

        Thank you very much, Danny!

    5. Melinda Wingerd says:

      I can remember the first time I had to get a money order filled out. Couldn’t help but wonder why completing a money order was so difficult lol. Your article really takes the time to break down the process and makes it easy for anyone to get a mo made out. Being able to easily get certified funds, through a bank or other payday service can really takes care of emergency bills or a deposit for any reason.

      I’ll have to say that your money order guide really helps take the guesswork out of it. It’s easy completing a money order when you follow your simple steps. Thanks a ton

      1. David says:

        From the bottom of my heart, thank you!

    6. TJ says:

      When I closed a bank account awhile back, there were a couple of years in which I used money orders to pay my rent and bills. And there were definitely a couple of times when I did it wrong! This is a helpful guide. The great thing about using a money order is that you don’t have to wait for a check to clear your account, and you can cash it where you bought it – or alter the amount – if something changes.

      1. David says:

        You have my gratitude. Thank you!

    7. jimp says:

      I think the good AND bad thing about money orders is that they’re as good as cash. No waiting for a check to post to your bank, but if you lose it- or fill it out wrong- and you can’t find the receipt, it’s as good as gone! I pay my rent this way, and I’ve learned that if I fill out a money order wrong, I could render it useless to my landlord. Good step-by-step guide!

      1. David says:

        My thanks and appreciation!

    8. Robert Rob Blake says:

      People who know how to do this stuff laugh at those who don’t know. Nobody was born with all the knowledge. So, I think it’s great that you’re providing this money order example to help us. Bless you!

      1. David says:

        Warmest thanks, Robert!

    9. Erica says:

      It’s crazy how simple this is but nobody is willing ot give you the assistance when filling out money orders. I’m so lucky to find this website. We need more people like you in the world.

      1. David says:

        I thank you most warmly!

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