Learn How to Fill Out a Money Order

Sample Money Order Filled Out
••• Justin Pritchard

If you need to pay a bill or individual but don't want to carry cash, use a bank check or offer your credit card, a money order is your best bet. Filling out a money order is similar to writing a check, and you'll need to know the payee's name, the amount you wish to pay, the payee's address and any other relevant details such as an account number.

Each money order issuer varies slightly. USPS and Western Union money orders have a different format, for example. When you purchase your money order you'll provide the amount to the vendor. The paper document you receive will have the amount printed on it, so you won’t need to fill in that information.

Filling in the Blanks

1. Enter payee information: Write the name of the person or business you’re paying with the money order. This section might be labeled "Pay to the order of" or "Payee." Avoid making money orders payable to cash, as you risk losing the funds if the money order gets lost or stolen.

2. Address information: Some money orders have space for you to provide your mailing address, in case the recipient needs to contact you with any questions or issues regarding your payment. However, if you’re worried about your privacy, you might be able to leave this information out. 

Ask the money order issuer and the recipient what is required. For USPS money orders, the address section on the left is for the recipient’s address, while other money orders typically use this space for your address, so you’ve got space for both addresses.

3. Additional details: You may need to include additional information on your money order so that the payment is handled correctly. For example, write your account number, transaction or order details, or any other notes that will help the recipient figure out where the payment came from. This section may be labeled "Re:" or "Memo." If there’s no space for additional information, just write it somewhere on the front of the document.

4. Signature: Some money orders require a signature, and some don’t. Look for a section marked "Signature," "Purchaser," or "Drawer" on the front of the document. Do not sign the back of the document because this is where the recipient signs to endorse the money order.

After you’re done filling out your money order, keep any receipts, carbon copies, and other documents you got when purchasing the money order. You may need these if there’s a problem with your payment. You may need these documents to cancel the money order if necessary, and they can be helpful when tracking or confirming the payment.

Why use Money Orders?

For buyers: Money orders are a safe way to pay. You can mail, or provide in person, a document that can be tracked and cashed only by the intended recipient. Compared to checks, money orders help you keep certain information private such as your bank account numbers, home address, and even your name. 

If you need to buy a money order, you can get one at various places including Western Union, Walmart, or a regular bank. They cost about one dollar at most retailers, but you'll pay slightly more at your bank or credit union.

For sellers: Money orders are usually a safe form of payment. Buyers must use a cash equivalent to buy the instrument, so it can't bounce like a personal check. Money orders are sometimes faked and used in common online scams, so it's best to make sure they clear your bank before spending the money.

Drawbacks of Money Orders

While money orders are popular and inexpensive,  you might want to investigate other ways to pay. For large purchases that might require that you use several money orders because of the dollar amount limitations per money order and the fees, a cashier's check might serve your needs.

Money orders can't substitute for a bank account. You can avoid paying a money order fee every time you make a payment if you have an account for storing your money, plus you can write your own checks or use your debit card.