Have you ever sent a friend or loved one a money order, only for it to get lost or stolen somewhere along the way? Did you frantically search “how to cancel a money order” and wonder if your cash was gone for good?
Chances are, you did everything correctly. But unfortunately, this sometimes happens, which is why there’s an entire system in place to help senders track and cancel their money orders.
If you recently sent a money order and now want to cancel it, or if you are planning to and want to prepare for the worst, this guide covers everything you need to know. We will review what a money order is, how it works, how to cancel one, and some alternative payment methods.
What is a money order?
Like a check, a money order is a paper form of payment. Great Britain first established this system, later introduced in large American cities by the U.S. Postal Service in 1864. It allowed people to pay bills, buy items from catalogs, and help loved ones in need of quick money.
How are money orders different from personal checks?
The difference between a personal check and a money order is that the latter is a guaranteed form of payment. When the recipient receives a money order and tries to cash it, it can’t bounce because the sender has already paid for it upfront.
What are the benefits of money orders?
Money orders are ideal for some because they can be paid for in cash and thus don’t require a bank account. They also don’t include the same fees associated with wire transfers. However, they don’t come without a cost.
Where can you purchase money orders?
You can get a money order in several places, so your first step will be to contact or visit the issuing vendor. For some, that may be the USPS or a financial institution like Chase, Bank of America, Wells Fargo, or other banks.
For others, that location may be a payday loan store or a retailer, such as a grocery store or a pharmacy.
How do you purchase money orders?
Money order requirements vary by the financial institution, but in most cases, you will need:
- Payment amount
- Recipient’s name and address
- Sender’s name and address
- Purpose of payment
- Form of payment (such as debit card, cash, or check)
How to cancel a money order
If you’re currently in a situation where you need to cancel a money order you’ve already placed, don’t panic. There are systems to ensure you keep the money you sent. There will likely be a fee to cancel and process a replacement, but this is often the preferred choice compared to losing the balance entirely.
As long as the money order hasn’t been cashed, you can likely cancel it for a fee.
Here are the steps to take to ensure the smoothest possible cancellation process.
Making a money order cancellation request
Step one: Contact the issuer
For example, if it was a postal service, visit the post office and fill out a cancellation request form. The goal is to stop payment. In some cases, you can email, fax, or mail your request. This option is also possible when Western Union is the issuer.
Step two: Be prepared with all relevant details.
When did you purchase the money order, at what location, and for what dollar amount? You may also need to include the recipient’s name, address, and a brief description of the lost money order, including how you paid for it.
Step three: Attach the money order receipt
If you have the receipt, attach it to the form. This will provide a more concrete source of information, making it easier to confirm the status of your money order.
Step four: Submit the request and pay the fee
Submit a request to cancel the money order and pay the fee.
What are the fees to cancel a money order?
The cancellation fee will depend on the issuer.
If you sent the money order with the U.S. Postal Service, the cancellation/replacement fee is $6.25 when sending domestically and $9 when sending internationally at the time of this writing.
For vendors like MoneyGram, the cancellation fee is $18 at the time of this article. At Western Union, it is $15. However, if you don’t have your receipt, this charge increases to $30, and the processing time increases to approximately 6 to 8 weeks. Now, you can decide whether to send a new money order or get a refund.
What if the money order has been cashed?
Unfortunately, there are cases where money orders are cashed fraudulently. In this case, you may not be able to get your money back. However, you can take steps to get law enforcement involved by filing a police report.
Money order tips
If you’re buying a money order, follow these tips to have the best possible experience.
Get to know the issuer’s refund policies
Since each money order issuer has its own refund policies, be sure to find out what the terms are before you purchase. Find out what fees may be deducted from a money order refund, how long you may have to complete a cancellation request form, and how you can make a request.
Shop around before you purchase
Money order issuer’s fees vary greatly. Before you buy, shop around to find out the rates in your area. Remember to check with your bank or credit union as well as other issuers.
Double-check the details
When you receive a money order, look at all the details before leaving the issuer’s location. Make sure that the date and amount are correct. If you point out errors while still at the counter, most issuers will immediately issue a replacement money order.
Keep a record of your money order purchases
Keeping a record of your money order purchase can help you if problems arise. In addition to retaining the original receipt, jot down the money order’s serial number for your records. Or, photocopy or take a photo of the money order before giving it to the person or company you’re paying.
Fill out the “pay to order of” line as soon as possible
In some cases, the issuer may fill out the “pay to the order of” line when you make your purchase. If they don’t, fill in the information yourself as soon as possible. It is more difficult to fraudulently cash money orders if they are already filled out completely.
Money order FAQs
If you still have questions about money orders, check out our answers to these FAQs.
Will a financial institution replace money orders for free?
In the event of an error, the issuer of the money order will typically provide a replacement money order at no charge.
When it comes to issuing a replacement money order if you cancel, providers have different rules. In most cases, you’ll need to pay a fee to get a replacement money order after you complete a cancellation form.
What do you do if someone cashes a money order fraudulently?
If an unauthorized person cashed your money order, contact local law enforcement. You will need to provide the officer with information about the cashed money order, such as the serial number and amount.
You should also notify law enforcement if you sent a money order due to a scam. In addition, you should report phone and online scams to the FTC. You can find out how to do so on this website.
What is the process for cashing money orders?
To cash a money order, you need to visit a financial institution or retail location that offers money order cashing services.
You’ll typically need to present a photo ID like a driver’s license, passport, or state-issued identification card. At a bank or credit union, you may need to provide your savings and checking account number or show your ATM card, as some financial institutions will only cash a money order for customers.
After presenting your identification, you’ll sign the back of the money order in front of the teller or customer service representative. This is known as endorsing the money order.
How do you report a stolen money order?
The proper way to report a lost or stolen money order varies from issuer to issuer. Here’s a quick look at the policies of popular issuers. Contact the customer service number for other providers to get information on what to do about a stolen or lost money order.
United States Postal Service (USPS)
Unfortunately, you can’t place a stop payment or cancel a postal money order. However, you can request a replacement from USPS if the money order is damaged or defective. To do so, bring the original receipt and money order to a post office location. You will then fill out a money order inquiry form and receive an immediate USPS money order replacement.
With a Western Union money order, you must complete a money order research request form and have it notarized. Western Union assesses a $30 charge for this service. When you submit the form to a Western Union location or mail it in, they will place a stop payment on the money order.
If no one has cashed the money order, Western Union may refund the full face amount of the money order after investigating the claim.
To report a lost or stolen money order, visit the Moneygram website by clicking here. If the stolen or lost money order has yet to be cashed, Moneygram will place a stop on the money order and send a replacement. As noted above, they will charge you $18 for replacing the money order.
What are alternative ways of sending money?
If you regularly send money to loved ones back home, you’re no longer limited to money orders as your form of payment, even if you don’t have a traditional bank account. Depending on the country, you can choose cash pick up, bank deposit, mobile money, or home delivery and initiate transfers on your mobile device using an app like Remitly.
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- How to Void a Check in the U.S.: Everything You Need to Know
Remitly is on a mission to make international money transfers faster, easier, more transparent, and more affordable. Since 2011, millions of people have used Remitly to send money with peace of mind. Visit the homepage, download our app, or check out our Help Center to get started.