Money orders are a secure way to send money. Not only do they contain security features for authenticity, but by law they can only be paid to the listed payee. Although the recipient of a Western Union money order can elect to deposit the money order in their bank account, it's not required. Western Union will pay the money directly.
Find a Western Union Branch
Locate your nearest Western Union branch. Many retailers such as drugstores are authorized Western Union outlets. Western Union also maintains offices it operates directly. The Western Union website has a services locator that indicates which agents cash checks.
Simply select your country/territory from the drop-down list, enter your zip code or city and state and check the money order box. Click the blue "Go" button and a list of the closest Western Union branches will appear. You'll see the address and telephone number and links to the branch's hours, as well as directions to the facility if you are unfamiliar with the location.
Since not all Western Union branches are able to cash checks, it is important to call ahead and confirm that the location closest to you performs this service.
Provide the Appropriate Documents
Present your money order and government-issued photo identification to a Western Union employee or representative after arriving at your local branch. Bring one additional form of identification in case the representative needs further confirmation. Representatives have a responsibility to only pay the payee listed on a money order, so you can expect them to do their due diligence by verifying your identity.
Consider a Check Cashing Service
If no Western Union is within driving distance of your home, you can visit a check cashing service instead. These services typically either charge flat fees or a percentage of the check's value. This is more expensive than receiving money from Western Union, which does not charge to cash a money order. Additionally, fees vary by location. For example, The Check Cashing Store may charge one fee at location A and a different fee for the same service at location B. As with Western Union, you'll need to bring a government-issued photo ID with you to have the money order cashed.
Visit Your Nearest Kroger
Another option is to stop by your local Kroger, which has a check cashing department. In addition to a valid photo ID, first-time users of Kroger's check cashing service will need to fill out a short enrollment form. This can be done the same day the money order is cashed. Bring $3 if the money order is $2,000 or less and $5 if the money order is for any amount over $2,000.01 This will cover the check cashing fee. Kroger can even load your money to a prepaid debit card if you prefer that payment method over the cash.
Eric Feigenbaum started his career in print journalism, becoming editor-in-chief of "The Daily" of the University of Washington during college and afterward working at two major newspapers. He later did many print and Web projects including re-brandings for major companies and catalog production.