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3. US Postal Service
Head to any post office with your cash, debit card or traveler’s check. You will not be able to pay for a money order by charging it to a credit card. You’ll pay a processing fee of $1.45 for amounts ranging from 1 cent to $500 and $1.95 for amounts ranging from $500.01 to $1,000.
You can also get a money order at many retail locations you visit on a regular basis, such as any of the following options.
After purchasing a money order, you might need additional services from the issuer. For example, you can find out if and when the item was cashed (and see who endorsed the back). If the money order gets lost or you decide not to use it, you may need to request a refund or replacement. Those services could cost extra.
5. CVS Pharmacy
CVS owns and operates thousands of drugstores across the U.S. Cash is the only form of payment accepted for a money order at CVS, and you must have a valid ID with you.
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Limit: $500 per money order; $2,500 maximum per day
Pros and Cons
- They’re a commonly accepted method of payment, and often preferred over checks.
- They’re usually less expensive than bank issued checks, like certified or cashier’s checks.
- Because you pay for a money order before it’s issued, there’s no chance it will bounce. That will provide higher assurance to you if you’re receiving a money order, and to a party you’re sending one to.
- They’re safer than carrying cash.
- If you don’t have a checking account, money orders can be sent through the mail. Cash cannot.
- Money orders are not accepted everywhere.
- They’re much slower than online payments, and thus not warmly welcomed by the majority of merchants.
- They can’t be used to make online purchases.
- Money orders are time-consuming. You’ll need to visit an outlet where you can make a purchase each time you need one.
- While money orders are generally safer than cash or checks, they are susceptible to fraud.
- You’ll have to pay a fee for each money order you purchase. Most banks don’t charge a fee for either checks or online payments.
Availability and Pricing
Prices for money orders vary from store to store and town to town. You might find that some stores in your area don’t even sell money orders at all, while they sell inexpensive money orders in other regions.
Verify availability and cost before you need your money order.
Call ahead and ask if money orders are available 24/7, or if you need to visit a service desk with limited operating hours. You’ll also need to ask the maximum issue amount.
It might pay to shop around, but if you can find money orders for less than $1, you’re doing well. Note that many convenience stores, grocery stores, and check cashing stores outsource their money orders—thus you’re getting the same money order (at the same price) from numerous locations. MoneyGram and Western Union are commonly used at those stores.
Also, check with your bank or credit union. In some cases, those money orders are more expensive, but you never know until you ask.
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