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How Long Is A Money Order Good For?

Last modified: Nov 24, 2022

If you're looking for a safe way to pay recipients, money orders are a much better option than other payments (personal checks, cash, and credit cards). This is because they're prepaid, disconnected from your bank account, and don't ask for personal information.

But how long is a money order good for? In general, it doesn't have an expiration date, but there are some requirements to look out for.

Do Money Orders Expire?

Unlike traditional checks, money orders last forever. It's possible to cash them out anytime. So naturally, it would be best to keep an eye on some guidelines, laws, and obligations.

Issuer Guidelines to Observe

Before receiving a money order, remember that the sum must be prepaid with the issuer's charge. Remember to fill out a form and give it back to the sender. Here's the information you'll need to provide:

  • Full name of the beneficiary
  • Your address
  • Additional information (account number and transaction details)
  • Signature

Only in this instance the designated recipient can receive the payment.

In most cases, money orders have a set limit of $1,000. So, consider placing more orders if you want to send a more significant sum. You can pay for it with cash, debit card, credit card, or traveler's check. However, not all issuers accept credit cards as a payment method.

Important Bank Obligations

Besides the US Postal Service, pharmacies, and grocery stores, even retail banks like Wells Fargo sell money orders.

If you purchase a money order from a bank, you'll be required to pay for the face value of the order and the fee for using the funds from your checking or savings account.

If you're the beneficiary, you can cash your money order into your bank account without paying any additional fee. But first, you must endorse it on the back. Sometimes, you'll need to sign the order before a bank employee and provide your government-issued picture ID.

Service Fees Changes

In terms of fees, you'll be charged depending on the location and amount of your money order.

For example, the US Postal Service charges $1.45 for orders up to $500 and $1.95 for transactions between $500.01 and $1,000. At a retail bank, the same fees can cost you up to $5.

What Can I Do if I Have an Old Money Order?

Even though we've already replied to the question, "How long does a money order last?" you still want to know how to cash out an old and unused one.

Indeed, money orders never expire, but issuers will start to apply some fees to uncashed ones after a year has passed. For example, WesternUnion takes a $2 fee per month for money orders that exceed a year of life. Those issued by the US Postal Service are an exception to the general rule—they never lose their value.

MoneyGram could ease some of your pressing issues if you're concerned about these additional costs. This service includes terms and information on the back of its money order. Alternatively, you can contact the issuer and request a refund.

International Money Order

Money orders are usually used to send funds to other countries. International orders are relatively cheap and quick to move funds across borders. However, there are two factors to be aware of: the limit of your international order and the tracking procedure.


International money orders come with a colossal downfall: extremely tight sending limitations. For example, the US Postal Service will allow sending a maximum of $700 per each money order and $10,000 for multiple ones.

There are better options than this kind of payment if you want to send large quantities of cash and avoid high fees.


Monitoring your money order can tell whether or not your funds have been cashed out, especially if you're sending it to another country.

All you need to provide is the following:

  • Your serial number (available on the receipt you got from the issuer)
  • Dollar amount
  • Location (for example, the Post Office number)

Scams and Important Warnings

Money orders are relatively secure, meaning that identity theft and fraudulent activity are uncommon. But it would help if you never let your guard down.

The most common scam is the bogus buyer. The criminal sends a forged money order to acquire products from you. Unfortunately, they've already received your items when you realize their payment needs to be validated.

You should also be aware of bogus buyer's remorse, rental reversal, overpayment ploy, and deposit assistance.

What Are Some Pros and Cons of Money Orders?

First, does a money order expire? The good news is—no, you can cash it out anytime. But the benefits don't stop here.

As money orders can be paid only by the designated recipient and hide personal information, they're much safer than other payment methods.

Furthermore, money orders can be purchased at various locations, including your local post office, bank, pharmacy, grocery, and retail establishment—to mention a few. Most stores charge only a few dollars for your orders. Banks and credit unions, however, can ask for a higher rate.

In some cases, money orders might not be your top choice. Not when cheaper and faster alternatives like Zelle and Venmo made their way into the market.

Especially when you have to deal with large sums of cash and frequent transactions, money orders aren't recommended. Also, considering that the limit is $1,000 per transaction, you'll need to pay a charge every time you issue a new payment, which could be inconvenient compared to a personal check or debit card transaction.

Alternatives to Money Orders

If money orders aren't exactly your cup of tea or you want to avoid the drawbacks that come with them, there are other similar payment methods you can choose from.

Peer-to-Peer Payment App

If your recipient has an account with PayPal, Venmo, Zelle, or Cash App, you can transfer money easily, quickly, and without having to pay lots of fees. But, unfortunately, you can't pay businesses via a peer-to-peer payment app.

Cashier's Check

A cashier's check is comparable to a money order as they're both prepaid. The main difference is—cashier's checks are issued by banks only. So, in this case, you'll need a bank account to use during the process.

Furthermore, cashier's checks have far more significant limitations than regular money orders. Nevertheless, despite their pricey fees, many people prefer them for large transactions.

Wire Transfer

If you're looking to send money abroad, wire transfers are the go-to option for international buyers. Although wire transfers are a much more expensive choice, the receiver will get their funds faster than traditional money orders via mail.

Bottom Line

How long is a money order good for? A money order can last forever. It's fast, simple, and can be purchased in various financial institutions.

As a result, money orders are a common means to make medium-sized payments when cash or personal checks are impractical. However, unlike cash, you cannot replenish or bounce the amount on your money order.


How do you cash a money order?

Many establishments that commonly accept checks (banks, credit unions, grocery stores, etc.) also cash out money orders. You must endorse the money order, provide your identification document and pay a small fee.

Can you get a refund on a money order?

If you own the purchaser's receipt and your money order hasn't been cashed yet, here's what you should do to ask for a refund:

Fill in the "Money Order Refund Request" form.

Provide your receipt.

Accept the terms and conditions and click the "Submit" button.

Can you cash an old postal money order?

In short, yes. But how long is domestic money good for? They never expire and never accrue any interest. In the US Postal Service, you can cash out the amount specified on your order anytime.


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