Exactly How to Sign and Cash a Money Order

Exactly How to Sign and Cash a Money Order
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A money order is a form of payment similar to a personal check. It’s made out for a certain amount of money and can be cashed or deposited into the recipient’s bank account. The difference is that a check is paid from money that’s been deposited into a bank account, while a money order is acquired in exchange for cash.

This makes it a pretty secure form of payment. The odds that it will bounce are virtually nonexistent. Money orders can be a good payment option in certain situations if you understand how they work and how to fill out a money order.

How to Endorse a Money Order for Cash or Deposit

Endorsing a money order is much the same as endorsing a personal check. A space should be provided on the back of the money order where you can sign your name. You can add a note that it’s “for deposit only” and your account number beneath your signature if you want to deposit the money order into your bank account.

Where to Cash a Money Order

You’re not limited when it comes to where you can cash a money order if you’d rather not deposit it or if you don’t have a bank account. Western Union indicates that you can usually do so at the following places:

  • A bank, credit union or other financial institution
  • A grocery store, convenience store or other retail store, such as Walmart
  • A check-cashing store
  • The location that issued the money order, such as a post office

Call ahead to make sure and to ask about any requirements. For example, not all Western Union locations can cash money orders even though they sell them, and banks may require that you hold a checking account or savings account with them in order to cash a money order there. You’re probably best off going to the place that issued the money order, such as USPS.

You may be able to deposit the money order online or through mobile deposit, but check with your bank before you try. That's because the institution may require that you show an ID that proves you’re the individual to whom the money order is payable.

There may also be a processing fee, but it’s usually minimal, no more than ‌$2‌ or so unless the money order is made out for a significant amount of money. The fee can increase with the amount.

How to Cash a Money Order

Take the money order to the location where you’ve determined they’ll cash it. You’ll have to provide photo ID as well, so be sure you have it with you.

SoFi cautions that you should wait to endorse the money order at the location. You’ll probably be required to do it in front of the teller or employee who’s cashing it for you. Then, you’ll turn over the money order and receive cash for its amount.

Do You Need to Sign a Money Order to Cash It?

You’ll most definitely have to sign or endorse the money order in order to cash it, just as you would a check. And, again, you’ll likely have to provide valid ID that proves you’re the individual to whom the money order is made out. In fact, Huntington National Bank requires that it be a government-issued ID.

Who Signs a Money Order: The Payer or Payee?

Two signatures are required on a money order: that of the payer and that of the recipient or payee. Lines and areas are provided for each.

You’ll sign the front of the money order if you purchase one for payment to someone, typically in the purchaser section. However, it may also be labeled as “sender,” “remitter” or “drawer.”

Take care ‌not‌ to sign the back if you’re purchasing the money order. This area is provided for the signature of the recipient.

How to Purchase and Fill Out a Money Order

You can typically purchase a money order at all the same places where you can cash one.

Money orders must be prepaid, according to Western Union, and you must purchase them in person. You would have to hand over $100, typically in cash, with a traveler’s check or by debit card, plus any applicable fee. You might also be able to take a cash advance on a credit card, but you generally can’t charge the purchase to your card, according to Annuity.org, although this can vary by issuer. The issuer will then provide you with a money order in that amount.

You’ll also need to provide some information:

  • The recipient’s name (the individual or entity to whom you’re going to give the money order)
  • The recipient’s address
  • Your name and your address
  • The reason you’re making the payment (not always required) along with an account or order number where the payment should be applied

The payee name (the person or entity you’re paying) will appear on the “pay to the order” line, just as you would enter it on a check. Your name will also appear on the front as the purchaser, and some issuers require the purchaser’s address as well. Use your official mailing address, such as a post office box if that’s where you have your mail delivered. Some money orders provide a memo line where you can enter the reason for payment, and most also require the purchaser’s signature.

You can provide much of the necessary information to the money order issuer, and they’ll fill in pertinent sections of the money order for you, such as the date and dollar amount. You may have to enter the name of the payee yourself, and you should do this immediately because anyone can cash it if no payee is named. Do it in ink and print it; this is one of those times when cursive writing is neither necessary nor a good idea.

Most issuers place limits on the amount of money a money order will be issued for. It’s ‌$1,000‌ at Huntington National Bank and at most Western Union locations. Huntington indicates that you’ll need multiple money orders or a cashier’s check instead if you want to make a payment larger than this.

What if a Money Order Is Lost or Stolen?

Most money orders come with a detachable receipt that will include a tracking number. You can use this information to confirm whether the money order has been cashed if you’re the payer and to stop payment on it if it hasn’t. The receipt should also include information regarding how to alert the issuer if you should lose the money order and how to get a replacement.

Reach out to the person who paid you if you’re the recipient of a money order and you’ve misplaced it or if it’s been stolen. You’ll want to give them every opportunity to prevent it from being cashed. This can be very important because money orders never expire. You’ll also want the payer to give you a new replacement money order, or they can use another option to make payment.

Can I Sign a Money Order Over to Someone Else?

Signing a money order over to someone else makes it a “third-party” money order just as with a check. It may or may not be possible depending on where the money order is being cashed. Assuming the location is willing to do so, both you (as the initial recipient) and the third party will have to sign it, most likely in front of the teller or store employee who’s accepting it for cash or deposit. You should also write “pay to" and the new recipient’s name.

You might have the most success if you accompany the third party to the location at which they’re going to try to cash it so you can provide your own ID.