If you don't have a bank account yet but still want to pay your bills through the mail, money orders offer a valid payment option and are welcomed by many businesses. To make your money order payments process without a problem, follow the order's instructions for completion and keep your paperwork in case a problem occurs.
Money Order Basics
The safety of a money order is enhanced when you fill it out entirely with accurate information. Each money order issuer requires the input of different details on the face. A postal money order features spaces for your name and address and the recipient's information. Both Western Union and MoneyGram orders contain a line for writing in the receiver's name or business name and additional blanks for your details. By fully completing the order, you reduce the chances that a person other than the recipient can cash it.
Including Your Account Information
Using the memo line on a money order offers additional protection by ensuring a payment is credited to your account. List your account number with a business in this space. A utility or credit card company may offer services to numerous men named John Smith, but your account number belongs to only you. If you are paying an amount due without an associated account number, list alternative identifying information in the memo space. For example, if you receive a parking ticket from the university police, write the ticket number and citation date to further identify yourself.
Additional Payment Protection
While including your information on the memo line helps ensure a payment credits to your account, you still need to send the money order with the bill's payment coupon if possible. When you mail a money order for a large bill, consider investing in a shipping service that provides conformation upon delivery or offers insurance protection. Keep your original purchase receipt for the money order as well as the detachable stub for your records. If your money order is lost or damaged, the issuer needs this information to send a replacement.
As of September 2013, money orders vary in price from less than $1 for most Western Union and MoneyGram orders to between $1.20 and $1.60 for postal orders. If you purchase a money order from a bank, the charge may be even higher. Over the long term, the costs of using this payment method add up. Opening a checking account and setting up regular bill pay offers security and timely payments and is a free service through most financial institutions. Many utility companies and creditors also allow you to schedule automatic withdrawals from your checking account when payments are due.
- United States Postal Service: Money Orders and Other Services
- Washington City Paper: Jeff Thompson’s Masseur Among “Suspicious” Money Order Donors
- United States Postal Service: Replacing Money Orders
- United States Postal Service: Domestic & International Money Orders
- Walmart: Bill Pay and Money Order
- United States Postal Service. "Sending Money Orders." Accessed Jan. 13, 2020.
- Western Union. "Do Money Orders Have an Expiration Date?" Accessed Jan. 13, 2020.
- Western Union. "How Do I Request a Money Order Refund?" Accessed Jan. 13, 2020.
- United States Postal Service. "Money Orders - The Basics." Accessed Jan. 13, 2020.
- United States Postal Service. "Money Order Inquiry System." Accessed Jan. 13, 2020.
- MoneyGram. "Money Order Information." Accessed Jan. 13, 2020.
- MoneyGram. "Money Order Claim Card." Accessed Jan. 13, 2020.
- Western Union. "All About Money Orders." Accessed Jan. 13, 2020.
- Western Union. "Money Order Research Request." Accessed Jan. 13, 2020.
- Office of the Comptroller of the Currency. "Answers About Forgery and Fraud." Accessed Jan. 13, 2020.
Ashley Mott has 12 years of small business management experience and a BSBA in accounting from Columbia. She is a full-time government and public safety reporter for Gannett.