In this era of ultra-speedy transactions, many adults rarely send a money order. But sometimes it's smart to slow it down and play it safe. Money orders resemble that other slow-and-steady method of payment – a personal check – right down to the "memo" line in the lower-left corner. It takes mere minutes to fill out a money order, but it's smart to consider if it suits your purposes first.
Money Orders Make Sense and Cost Cents
A money order can be a fine alternative to sending someone a personal check, debit card and especially cash through the mail, Checking Expert says. You may be limited to sending no more than $1,000, but a money order could be a good choice if:
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You must make a large payment (such as for an out-of-town apartment lease) and cash isn't an option.
You don't have a checking account.
You do have a checking account but prefer to keep your account information private or don't want to keep enough money in your account to cover the amount of the money order.
You like the security of knowing that the recipient must validate the money order with his signature, which reduces the risk of theft.
You want to send money to a foreign country. (But check first since money orders aren't good everywhere. U.S. Postal Service money orders are accepted in about 25 countries.)
You can purchase a money order with cash or a debit card at a bank, post office, currency exchange and some department and grocery stores. The actual transaction won't set you back much, either. For example, post offices set their fees based on the amount of the money order. For one up to $500, the fee is $1.45; for money orders ranging from $500 to $1,000, the fee is $1.95.
Memo on Money Order Offers Guidance
Like checks, money orders are designed to be straightforward to avoid confusion – and mistakes. Since some money orders require both the name and full address of the sender (you) and the recipient, be sure to have this information with you before you leave the house. Use ink, not pencil, and fill out the date and "pay to" or "pay to the order of" field with the full name of the recipient (be it a person or a company). If your handwriting leaves something to be desired, then print this information for the sake of clarity.
The line for a memo on money orders is there for you to tell the payee what the money should be used for, Bankrate says. If you have an account number from the payee – through a utility company, a credit card or a store – the memo line is the place to provide it. For example, a good memo for a money order sent to pay a bill would read "Payment for account #454545."
If you do not have an account number, provide some direction on the memo line. If the money order is meant to pay a tuition bill, a good memo might read: "Payment for spring 2022 tuition." If the money order is more personal in nature, you may wish to write something like, "High school graduation gift" or "Wedding gift." In this way, it helps to adopt an anticipatory mindset. In other words, the memo line is intended to eliminate the chance that the recipient will open the envelope, see the money order and wonder, "What's this for?" The memo line explains the purpose.
Memo on a Money Order Can Remain Blank
On the other hand, there's nothing to say you have to use the memo line. In fact, Policygenius says you can leave it blank. Just be sure to sign the money order where you see the words "purchaser," "purchaser's signature," "drawer" or "signer." However, you won't see these words on USPS money orders; they do not require a signature.
Depending on the type of money order you purchase, you will get a receipt. It's smart to hang onto it – just in case. The tracking number can help you find out if the money order has been cashed. And if it becomes lost, the number can help you secure a refund or replacement.
All things considered, getting a money order isn't the speediest transaction you'll undertake. But the process is simple and straightforward, and in this era of identity theft, the security factor is worth noting in a "memo to self."