Money orders are a fairly budget-friendly and safe way to send money — better than handing off wads of cash. You don’t need to share personal details (except your name) and the funds are guaranteed, so there’s no worrying about whether the recipient will face a bounced check.
Keep in mind that money orders aren’t the best choice if you need to send a large amount—most places only allow you to purchase one for $1,000. It is, however, a fine option if you want to send a cash equivalent and to be able to track the payment and don’t want to do it via your bank account.
If you choose to go this route, we outline some places where you can buy them, and how to do so correctly.
Where You Can Buy Money Orders
The best place for you to buy a money order most likely comes down to a combination of service, fees, convenience and location. No one place will be the right fit for everyone.
Banks and Credit Unions
Most banks and credit unions will offer the purchase of money orders for their customers or credit union members.
If you’re not a customer, some major banks may allow you to purchase one, but you could be charged a higher fee. For those who have an ongoing relationship with the bank or you’re a premium customer (such as if you have premium accounts or a certain amount on deposit with them), you may have those fees waived.
Typically, banks may be a convenient way to purchase a money order since you can simply pay using your information and account details on file. However, some banks offer cashier’s checks instead — check with the recipient if they care whether you pay them using this option or money order. In either case, the money is available whenever the recipient wants to make a deposit, and it offers a paper trail.
Though not always the case, purchasing a money order at a bank or credit union could be slightly more compared to other options below. It might not be a big deal if you’re getting money orders every once in a…