August 23, 2017 in Banking
Courtesy of Smithsonian National Postal Museum

If you don’t have a checking account or would rather not use a personal check to make a payment, sending money orders is a safe alternative to paying with cash.

These certificates are readily available from banks for a small fee, and they offer the same security that checks provide.

In addition, if a money order goes missing, you have a better chance of tracking it down, and because the intended recipient is the only person who can cash the money order, there is less risk of theft or fraud.

Still, you should learn how to fill out a money order correctly before sending one out.

Initial steps in filling out a money order

Money orders are easy to use as long as you fill out all of the essential details accurately. By following a step-by-step guide to completing a money order and writing clearly, you minimize the risk of delayed or rejected payments.

Before filling in your details, take a moment to confirm the accuracy of the money order. When you take out a money order, the issuer generates the new order with the amount printed on it, so check that this amount matches the amount you want.

Also, make a note of the time and location of your purchase in case you misplace the money order later. Finally, make sure you have a pen with black ink that is easy to read and difficult to alter.


Write in your name and the receiver’s name

In the “pay to the order of” field, write in the name of the person or business you are paying. Make sure the spelling is accurate. Never make a money order payable to “cash.” If you do, it allows anybody in possession of the order to cash it, increasing the chances of theft.

Now, locate the field labeled “from,” “sender,” “purchaser” or “remitter.” Write in your full legal name.

Write in your address

Some money orders have an address field. The address you use should be your current mailing address. If there are two address fields, the second one is for the recipient’s address.

In some cases, you may be able to leave an address field blank, but you should check with the money order issuer to make sure.

Sign it and add notes, if necessary

Sign your name in the signature field on the front of the money order. The recipient signs on the reverse of the money order, so make sure you leave that side blank.

If a money order has a “memo” field, you have the option of adding some additional notes. For example, you may want to include your account number or special instructions to the recipient.


Keep your receipt

Money orders have a detachable receipt for you to keep for your records. The receipt includes tracking information, making it easier to track a misplaced money order or to confirm when the recipient deposits it.

How to buy a money order

You can’t buy a money order online, but they are available in person from:

  • Banks.
  • Credit unions.
  • Post offices.
  • Some retail stores.

To buy a money order, you can use cash, traveler’s checks or your debit card, and you may purchase one with a credit card for an additional transaction fee.

In addition to paying the amount on the money order, you’ll have to pay a small service fee.


Money orders are a convenient way to make payments, especially if you don’t have a checking account.

However, you need to complete the money order correctly and clearly, and you should keep the detachable receipt in case the money order goes missing.