How To Fill Out a Money Order: A Step-by-Step Guide
Money orders may seem obsolete in the digital era, but they are still used fairly regularly, having proven to be a reliable and secure method of transferring funds. They were first used in the United States in 1864 by the US Postal Office Department to combat an increase in postal carriage robberies.
Today, highway robberies are pretty rare, but money orders remain. However, even though they have been with us for a long time, they can still be confusing to fill out. Luckily, this article will explain how to fill out a money order step by step.
Where To Purchase a Money Order
The best and probably easiest method of transferring money domestically via money order would be MoneyGram, while Remitly is probably the best for international transfers. Those aren’t the only apps offering money order service. You can purchase money orders from the US Postal Service, Walmart, Western Union, your bank or credit union, gas stations, and drug, grocery, and convenience stores.
Each vendor is free to set its own order minimum, maximum, and money order fees. Fees will also depend on the amount you are sending. In most cases, the minimum is $0.01, and the maximum is $1,000, with fees ranging from $1 to $5 per order.
How To Fill a Money Order
Before you start filling out a money order, you’ll need to have the recipient’s name and address. If you’re sending the money to a business, include the business's name and address. Don’t get confused by the appearance of the money order: It might look different than the last one you used, but they all require the same information.
When you purchase a money order, the date and the amount you are sending will be printed out on it. The information needed to fill out a money order correctly is as follows:
- The recipient's name
- The recipient’s address
- The purchaser's information
- The memo line
- Sign the money order
Fill Out the Recipient’s Name
The first thing you want to do when filling out a money order is to write the recipient's full name carefully. In most cases, it’s added to the “Pay to” field on the order. The name has to be the same, to the letter, as the recipient's full name on their government ID.
If you make a spelling mistake, the recipient won’t be able to collect. The same goes for sending it to a business: Make sure to enter the business name correctly. If you aren’t sure about its exact name, contact the company for clarification.
Fill Out the Recipient’s Address
Don’t get confused by the two address fields: One is for the recipient, and the other is for you. Just below the “Pay to” field, you should see the “Address” field, where you should enter the recipient’s address.
Just like with the name, be sure you are entering the correct information, or the recipient won’t be able to collect the order. If you are sending money to a business, contact them and ask them to provide you with their business address.
Fill Out the Purchaser’s Information
Next, you’ll have to enter the purchaser's address and name. The purchaser refers to the person who bought the money order – i.e., you, in most cases. Enter your full name and home address, as listed on your ID. The field you are looking for will be marked with either “Purchaser” or “From.” The “Address” field should be located just below your name.
Fill Out the Memo Line
Once you fill out the money order with your and the recipient’s information, look for the “Memo” field. Usually, it is located below all the information fields. Here you’ll enter the purpose of the money order. If you are paying a bill or sending it to a business, you should enter the billing account number. As before, if you aren’t sure what to write, check with the recipient company beforehand.
Sign the Money Order
Most money orders have two signature fields, one at the back, and the other on the face of the order. Ignore the one on the back – that one is for the recipient of the money order. You should sign on the front.
If you bought your money order from the postal service, don’t be surprised if you can’t find the signature section, this is normal, as signatures aren’t required with USPS money orders.
Save Your Money Order Receipt
Once you have paid for the money order, you’ll receive a receipt and a blank money order. Hold on to your money order receipt: It’s proof of payment in case you make a mistake, or the money order gets lost or stolen. You can also use it to track your order and confirm it was received by the right recipient.
Also, the receipt will be required if, for any reason, you want to cancel the money order. Be aware that there will be a cancellation fee, and it may take up to 30 days for the money to be refunded.
What To Do if You Make a Mistake
Once you complete all the steps to fill out a money order, check everything one more time for any mistakes. If you see one, don’t try to correct it yourself. Show it to the person at the establishment you purchased the money order form. Depending on their procedure, you’ll have to cancel the current order and buy a new one, or they’ll be able to correct the mistake for you.
You can pay for money orders using prepaid debit cards, regular debit cards, or cash. In some rare instances, you might be able to pay with your credit card, too. You should avoid this because your credit card company may process it as a cash advance, which has higher fees and interest.
Common Money Order Mistakes
While there are some obvious differences between money orders and checks, both are plagued by the same mistakes - spelling errors.
These are the most common money order mistakes:
- Misspelling the recipient’s name and address
- Leaving any of the fields blank
- Not including the account number in the memo when paying a bill
- Losing the money order receipt
- Signing in the wrong place or not signing at all.
The Difference Between a Money Order and a Check
As you probably noticed by now, there isn’t much of a difference if you are filling out a check or money order. Both will require filling out your information, the amount being paid, a reason in the memo, and your signature (unless you’re buying from the post office). Unlike a check, a money order also requires the recipient's info.
This isn’t the only difference between the two, however. A check can be issued to you by banks or credit unions only if you have a valid credit union or bank account, while money orders don’t require any account. Another big difference is that a check can be cashed in by anyone, while a money order can only be cashed by its intended recipient.
Do you have to fill out the front of a money order?
Yes, you must fill out everything on the front of the money order.
What address do you put on a money order?
You’ll have to enter both your and the recipient’s addresses.
What information is needed for a money order?
A money order requires the recipient's and your names and addresses, as well as your signature and the reason for the transfer in the memo field. If you are paying a bill, enter the account number to which you're transferring the money in the memo field. You can find the detailed instructions in our “How To Fill Out a Money Order: A Step-by-Step Guide” article.
Who is the purchaser of a money order?
The purchaser on the money order is the person who bought it or, more simply, the person who is sending the money - if you’re filling it out, that’s you.
I have always thought of myself as a writer, but I began my career as a data operator with a large fintech firm. This position proved invaluable for learning how banks and other financial institutions operate. Daily correspondence with banking experts gave me insight into the systems and policies that power the economy. When I got the chance to translate my experience into words, I gladly joined the smart, enthusiastic Fortunly team.