Money orders are similar to checks, except that they're prepaid. The U.S. Postal Service sells money orders for a small fee, and you can cash them at a post office, deposit them at a bank or cash them at a check-cashing store. You can also check the status of a postal money order online.
At the Post Office
The USPS sells money orders at its post offices for a small fee. You can also purchase them from letter carriers in certain rural areas. Similar to checks, the orders are addressed to a particular recipient. Unlike ordinary checks, they are prepaid with cash or a debit card when purchased.
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If someone gives you a postal money order as payment, you can take it to a post office to cash. Rural carriers can also cash money orders if they have the funds on hand. If a money order is damaged, you can take it and the receipt for its purchase to a post office, and they will replace it. If it's lost or stolen, they'll replace it for a fee.
At the Bank
You can also cash or deposit money orders at many banks, similar to cashing or depositing a check. Some banks even allow customers to deposit money orders through ATMs or simply by taking a picture of them with a mobile banking app.
At Check-Cashing Stores
Check-cashing stores, often handy for people without banks, can also cash postal money orders. You'll usually have to show a government-issued ID to verify you're the person named on the money order. You'll typically have to pay a fee to cash anything at a check-cashing store.
In Another Country
The USPS offers international money orders that you can send to people in other countries. Agreements with other countries make it possible to cash money orders in banks and post offices in those countries, and the USPS will, in turn, cash money orders originating in those countries.
Checking Money Order Status Online
You can check the status of a money order, or report it lost or stolen, using the USPS website. You can also call to verify a money order. This can be handy if you're being paid by money order and want to make sure the order is real and valid.
The USPS also provides a guide for examining money orders and detecting counterfeits. If you suspect money order-related fraud, the USPS advises you to contact the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, a federal law enforcement agency.