Most financial institutions have ATMs where you can deposit money orders into your checking or savings account. To do this, use your bank card to access your account and insert the signed money order into the ATM. However, be sure to check that the ATM you wish to use accepts deposits, as some only dispense cash.
It’s important to understand what to do with a money order once you’ve received one. How do money orders work? Do you need to deposit money orders at an ATM? Does it matter if you go to a bank or credit union to deposit a money order? Will your money order expire?
If you’re curious, keep reading to learn more about how to properly cash money orders.
What is a money order?
First issued by American Express in 1882, a money order is a certificate that enables the payee — the person receiving — to cash in the money order for cash right away.
Aside from the fact that both checks and money orders are paper forms of payment, they don’t have much else in common. Money orders cannot bounce — the money used to purchase a money order is guaranteed. Those who purchase a money order either use cash or another form of payment (such as a traveler’s check) where the money can’t fall through. So personal checks and credit cards aren’t accepted when trying to purchase, for example, a Western Union money order.
Financial institutions and governments usually issue money orders to transfer money for people who don’t have access to a traditional checking account. However, you can also deposit money orders into a checking account. If you’d like to open a new account, consider some of the options below.
How to deposit a money order into an ATM
You can deposit a money order at most any financial institution’s ATMs. A bank’s ATM may treat money orders differently, and they may not allow you to deposit money orders. Before going, double-check on the policy for the specific ATM you plan on going to. Also, check to make sure the ATM will take a deposit — some are only meant to dispense cash.
If the ATM does accept money order deposits, follow the steps below:
- Once at your local bank or financial institution, first use your ATM card (or debit card) to access your checking or savings account.
- From there, the process is much like if you were to deposit a check. Sign the money order, insert the money order into the ATM, and wait for the system to read the check. Take your receipt after the transaction finishes processing.
- If you were taking out cash and not depositing the money order into an account, take the cash when you leave. However, if you did deposit the money order, keep in mind it may take a business day or two for your bank account to process the money order.
What happens if the ATM eats your money order?
On the off chance that the bank or credit union’s ATM eats your money order, don’t fret. Start by calling your bank or credit union and explain the situation. Most ATMs have cameras and will be able to see the interaction.
Also, reach out to the person who purchased the money order. It’s likely they will have a receipt of the transaction.
How to deposit a money order in person
After receiving a money order, don’t endorse it until you’re at the credit union or bank, ready to cash it — just like when you deposit checks.
- Go to one of the many financial institutions (a bank or local credit union), a Walmart (MoneyGram money orders), or a postal service location.
- Show the teller the money order.
- Provide a government-issued ID with a signature (if it’s your financial institution where you have a savings account, provide your debit card).
- Endorse the money order (usually on the back).
- Wait for the teller to hand you the receipt (with your cash if you didn’t deposit the money).
Does it matter when you deposit a money order?
Since money orders do not expire, it doesn’t matter when you deposit them. That being said, the locations that deposit money orders do have their own policies about processing them. The general rule is to cash money orders as soon as possible to avoid any issues with financial institutions and potential fees. If you have access to a mobile banking app, it’s best to deposit the money order when you receive it and get access to the cash faster.
If you prefer to hold a money order, double-check with your bank or credit union to make sure you are up to date on the policies in place.
Why would someone pay with a money order?
Despite much of the world being tech-forward, there are still reasons why money orders and other paper payments can still come in handy.
- Those without a checking account are able to cash checks without becoming account holders and navigating the world of banking.
- Money orders protect both the payee and the payer. Payees are guaranteed payment, as no one else can steal the check since their information is listed on the check. For the payer, their account number is not at risk of being compromised and potential thieves can’t use a money order immediately as they could with cash.
- To protect against bouncing checks after a sale is made, certain transactions in various industries request money orders or cashier’s checks.
That being said, money orders can still be stolen, lost, or destroyed. While you can order a replacement, your best bet may be to use a money transfer service instead.
Where can you buy a money order?
If you want to buy a money order, you’ll need to go to a check-cashing store (MoneyGram), a retail bank branch (Wells Fargo, TD bank), the USPS, retail stores, convenience stores, grocery stores, or pharmacies.
Before going to a local financial institution, post office, or any of the convenience stores nearby, it’s advised that you check both the bank’s policies on money orders and which of their locations offer the service.
How to purchase a money order at a post office
Fortunately, buying a money order isn’t just a process reserved for credit unions and banks. You can also go to the postal service to purchase money orders.
- Go to a post office location.
- Pick an amount for the money order (under $1,000 for each money order).
- Fill out the money order in front of the post office worker.
- Pay for the money order in cash, with a debit card, or with a traveler’s check.
Can you deposit money orders at the post office?
Yes, you can deposit a money order at the post office if it’s a USPS money order. However, remember not to sign it until you’re at the post office with an associate present.
Can you deposit a money order into your account?
Yes, you can deposit a money order into your savings account or other bank accounts. When you deposit the money order either in person or through a mobile banking app, you should have the option to choose where the funds will be deposited.
What does it mean to cash a money order?
When you cash a money order, you exchange the paper check for cash or add it to your bank account. In short, you’re extracting the money from the money order to your own personal accounts.
Is mobile deposit an option for money orders?
Most banks or credit unions have online banking with mobile deposits as an option. Just as you would deposit checks online, you can deposit money orders online.
With that in mind, not every financial institution offers this service. On the chance that your local branch or credit union account does accept mobile deposits, they may ask you to bring in the original money order for the deposit to be processed fully.
How can you cancel a money order?
If you aren’t able to exchange money orders before they end up lost or stolen, it’s best to reach out to the issuer of the money order. Most organizations have procedures in place to cancel a payment or refund the uncashed money orders.
If you try and cancel a money order after it’s cashed, the issuer (bank or credit union) will not replace the lost funds. The next move from that point on is to request a copy of the signed money order from the financial institution who the purchaser bought the money order from. Then reach out to law enforcement and allow them to open an investigation.
Is it possible to avoid a money transfer scam with a money order?
Since the majority of money transfer scams involve a wire transfer, money deposited from a money order into a savings account or checking account can then be wired. It’s important for everyone to be conscious of who they speak with, what information they give away (like a bank account number), and what they are asked to do.
- Make sure you can pay for the money order cost using a debit card or cashier’s check.
- Money orders are preferable for people who don’t have checking accounts and aren’t able to complete a mobile deposit but still want to have a guaranteed payment from the person paying them.
- Some money orders are able to be processed via ATM deposits, but it depends on the ATM and the institution processing the money order.
- You can deposit money orders into a savings account, cash them out, or place it into another account at a bank or credit union.
View Article Sources
- I deposited a USPS Money Order, Cashier’s Check, Certified Check, or Teller’s Check. When can I access this money? — Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
- Procedures for Processing Postal Money Orders — Treasury Financial Manual
- Can You Buy a Money Order with a Credit Card? — SuperMoney
- What Is a Money Order and How Does It Work? — SuperMoney
- How to Open a Checking Account — SuperMoney
- Money Transfer Scams: What Are They and How Can You Protect Yourself? — SuperMoney
- Best Savings Accounts | June 2022 — SuperMoney
- Best Checking Accounts | June 2022 — SuperMoney