If you bought a money order, but now you don't need it, you undoubtedly will want that money back. Cashing a money order that you didn't use depends on the issuer of the money order and whether you have endorsed it to the intended payee.
Understanding Money Orders and Checks
A check is an instrument written off the balance of your bank account. A money order is a financial document that you paid to purchase up front. It carries the same value as cash. A primary difference between the two is that if you write a check to a recipient and then change your mind about completing the transaction, you simply can run the check through the shredder to discard it. It isn't that easy with a money order.
Unlike checks that can come back for insufficient funds, a money order provides guaranteed funds. This is why money orders often are preferred over checks by some businesses. However, not every company accepts money orders.
Take it to the Bank
If you have a bank account, you can deposit the money order into your account, provided you haven't written on it. If the money order is blank, put your name in the recipient's area and endorse the back of the money order. Then you can either present it to a teller. If you don't have a bank account, many banks such as Chase, Wells Fargo and Bank of America will cash a money order for a fee.
Each bank has its own set of criteria for cashing money orders, so check with the bank to find out what exactly you need to do. Each location also has its own set of requirements for cashing money orders that are made out to someone else, so you will need to visit the bank and inquire what the exact procedure is.
Head to the Original Location
Take the money order back to its place of purchase to try to cash it. Many sellers of money orders, such as the U.S. Postal Service, cash them if they have the cash on hand, while some sellers might not cash them at all. However, calling the location and asking can't hurt. Also, it would be beneficial to take both portions of the money order with you: the money order itself and the tab that serves as your receipt.
Visit Grocery or Department Stores
Your local grocery store might be an option for cashing a money order. Check with the store to determine the requirement for cashing a money order. For example, a grocery store might cash a money order only up to a certain limit, such as $500, or might only cash orders issued from that store.
Use Check Cashing Stores
If check cashing stores are in your area, this is another option for cashing a money order. Just like banks, each check cashing location sets its own rules and fees for cashing money orders. Beware, though, that if you go this route, the cost most likely will be much higher than at a bank. Western Union, for example, requires purchasers to fill out a form and pay a fee of $15 to get a refund. It also takes 30 days for Western Union to process that request.
K.A. Francis has been a freelance and small business owner for 20 years. She has been writing about personal finance and budgeting since 2008. She taught Accounting, Management, Marketing and Business Law at WV Business College and Belmont College and holds a BA and an MAED in Education and Training.