What is a Money Order?

9/23/2014 by D. Cammarota

For over a hundred years, money orders have been a safe, convenient way to send money or pay bills. Money orders gained widespread popularity when the postal service took them over in the mid-19th century and lowered the cost significantly. There were still a few kinks in the system, but by the end of World War II, the postal money order system was in full-swing and used by people all over the world as legal tender.

If you have ever wondered why a person or business will take money orders but not personal checks, it is because like a certified check, money orders are a guaranteed form of payment. Since the money - either with cash, debit or credit card - is paid in advance to the money order supplier, the payment is ensured. While it may seem in this day and age of immediate electronic verification that personal or business checks should be accepted by anyone, anywhere - it is still not that simple for a payee to verify the legitimacy of any given bank check. And, while good old U.S. currency would appear to be the most direct and safe form of payment, many establishments simply do not wish to keep cash in house.

Whether you do not have a checking account, or you are sending money to a business that does not take personal checks or cash, money orders are an excellent option. The post office is still the most popular and affordable place to purchase money orders, but many check cashing locations, mail box shops and even drug and grocery stores offer money orders at a competitive rate. Most places have signage on the outside of the stores or near the registers to indicate that they are sold there, making them very easy to locate.

It is very important, when purchasing a money order, to keep the stub that is attached. Unlike bank checks that can be traced easily, without proof of purchase it is almost impossible to figure out if a money order has been cashed without the stub. Keeping the register receipt is also a good idea, as it adds another form of proof of purchase. Filling out the payee information on the stub you keep may seem pointless, but it can come in very handy if you find yourself sending multiple money orders.

If a money order should get lost or damaged, all establishments offer replacements for a fee. Even when the stub and receipt are intact, it is still a bit of a process for money orders to be recovered, so it is really a good idea to keep them safe and make sure you have the payee information correct.

If you are at a distance from even your local post office, performing a simple search using your zip code will yield a variety of check cashing or other locations where money orders are available.


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