What Happens If You Let a Money Order Expire?

by Owen Pearson ; Updated September 11, 2015

If you received payment from a person or company via money order, you likely cashed the money order soon after you received it. However, if you have an old money order, you may wonder if it expired, and what happens to the money. Whether or not a money order expires depends on the bank or other financial institution that issued it.

Perpetual Money Orders

Money orders issued by some banks and financial institutions do not have an expiration date. For example, Western Union states that money orders it issues do not expire. Likewise, Fidelity Express states that there is no expiration date on money orders issued under its name.

Service Fees

Although money orders issued by some financial institutions do not expire, you must cash them within a certain time frame to avoid penalties. At the time of publication, Fidelity Express states that if you do not cash a money order within 2 years of the date of issuance, a fee of $2 will be deducted for each month from the date of purchase. However, your state's laws may limit service fees to a smaller amount. Western Union states that the time frame to avoid service fees varies from 1 to 3 years.

Expiring Money Orders

Although money orders issued by some financial institutions never expire, some financial institutions may impose expiration dates where permitted by state law. If a money order expires, the financial institution may remit the balance of the money order to the state as abandoned property.

Reclaiming Funds

If a financial institution has turned over funds from an uncashed money order, call the financial institution to determine which state holds the funds. You can then locate the unclaimed property administrator in that state by visiting the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators. Fill out and submit the claim form required by the state's division of unclaimed funds. In some states, if the amount of the claim is above a certain monetary threshold, you must have the claim form notarized.

About the Author

Owen Pearson is a freelance writer who began writing professionally in 2001, focusing on nutritional and health topics. After selling abstract art online for five years, Pearson published a nonfiction book detailing the process of building a successful online art business. Pearson obtained a bachelor's degree in art from the University of Rio Grande in 1997.