Sometimes a merchant won’t take a check, but will take a money order. That's because check is a promise to pay, while a money order is guaranteed funds because it takes cash up front to buy one. In a sense, a money order is cash converted to check form in order to keep it safe. The recipient later converts it back to cash. To cash a money order, the person presenting it must show identification.
Because a money order is one step away from actual cash, you need to make sure it can only be cashed by your intended payee. As soon as you buy it, fill in the blank line specifying who the money order is for. If you don’t, anyone can fill in his own name and cash it. Also, hold on to the money order receipt.
Money orders can be cashed at banks and check cashing stores. U.S. Postal Service money orders can be cashed at the post office. To cash a money order. the recipient shows identification, proving the person cashing the money order is the intended payee. If you have a money order, but no identification -- say you haven’t yet gotten your license -- you may be allowed to sign the money order over to another person. That person, a parent, for instance, can then cash it for you. Call your bank in advance to see if they’ll work with you.
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