What Is a Money Order? | Sending Money Orders 101

In this article we’re answering “what is a money order?” and sharing all of the important factors you need to consider before deciding if money orders are the best transfer option for you.

This article is part of our free series on how to send a bank transfer, which you can get full access to right now by clicking here.

Feel free to use the table of contents to jump ahead to the sections most relevant to you.

Table of Contents

  1. What Is a Money Order?
  2. How Does a Money Order Work?
  3. Cashiers Cheque vs Money Order
  4. Frequently Asked Questions
  5. Ready to Explore Your Options?

What Is a Money Order?

A money order is a guaranteed method of payment that can be used to send funds around the world. In addition to being reliable, money orders also offer flexibility in how the funds are received. In most cases, money orders can be cashed or deposited, depending on the country where the recipient is located.

Additionally, it’s important to note that money orders are available in most major countries. Including Canada, India, the United Kingdom, the United States, and elsewhere. In most cases, money orders can be purchased from banks. But also, post offices, retail locations, and specialist money order service providers like Western Union or MoneyGram.

However, it’s important to note that each of the available money order options does charge fees on top of the amount being sent. Not to mention, the fees charged by each of the options mentioned above can vary widely.

So, if you are planning on sending money orders regularly (or you plan on sending large amounts of money), you should compare the applicable fees before deciding which option is best for you.

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How Does a Money Order Work?

A money order works in a similar way to a personal cheque. However, money orders are guaranteed and can be cashed (almost) anywhere in the world, depending on the money order provider. In fact, international money order services have representative agents in over 200 jurisdictions.

When cashing a money order, it’s important that the recipient brings government-issued photo identification, the names of the sending party, and the money order reference number. With this information, an individual will be able to receive their funds almost immediately in cash.

Now, let’s look at a few of the options for sending money orders.

How to Send Money Orders in Canada

To send money orders in Canada, the sending party will purchase a money order from the post office, a financial institution, a retail location, or a money service provider. Depending on the service you choose to purchase a money order, you can use cash, debit, traveler’s cheques, or credit to make your purchase.

That said, if you are sending money orders internationally, you will need to consider where the recipient is located and which services they can use to pick up the money order. While most money order services offer international pick-up, using an international money order service may be better suited to your needs. That said, if MoneyGram does not have locations in a particular country, you may want to consider sending a money order from Canada via Western Union instead.

How Much Money Does a Money Order Cost?

The amount of money that a money order costs depend on where you purchase the money order. For example, the post office typically offers competitive rates for money orders while financial institutions generally charge higher rates. With this in mind, we suggest that anyone planning on purchasing a money order compares the fees at all of the available options. This is especially important when sending money orders internationally as the rates vary from country to country.

Cashiers Cheque vs Money Order

The main difference between a cashier’s cheque and a money order is that a cashier’s cheque is typically used for larger values and domestic transfers while money orders are often for lower values and are frequently used both domestically and internationally.

That said, both cashier’s cheques and money orders are guaranteed by the issuing institution, whether that is a financial institution, a post office, or a commercial entity.

With this in mind, let’s take a look at the defining features of cashier cheques and money orders below.

Cashier Cheques

  • Available from major financial institutions
  • Guaranteed by the issuing bank
  • Fees are generally higher than money orders
  • Typically used for domestic transactions
  • Available for both small and large transfers
  • Often required for down payments and security deposits

Money Orders

  • Available from banks, post offices, and commercial providers
  • Guaranteed by the issuing entity
  • Fees vary depending on the issuing entity
  • Can send money domestically or internationally
  • Often capped at 1,000 USD or the local equivalent
  • Funded with cash, debit, credit, or cash equivalents
  • No bank account is required to purchase
  • No bank account is required to cash

Frequently Asked Questions

Below are four of the most common questions we receive from people asking “what is a money order?”. If you have further questions you would like answered, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us directly.

What Are Money Orders in Canada?

Money orders in Canada refer to guaranteed forms of payment that are purchased at the post office, financial institutions, retail locations, or commercial entities that specialize in sending money orders. Money orders offer both the sending and receiving parties flexibility in how the transaction is funded and received.

How Can I Get a Money Order?

You can get a money order by visiting a post office location, financial institution, money order service provider, and most major retail chains. You can then purchase a money order for the benefit of a specific recipient and pay the corresponding fees. Then the money order can be retrieved by the recipient in their desired location.

Why Would You Use a Money Order?

You would use a money order anytime you want to send funds to someone that does not have a bank account, or when sending funds internationally, or when you would like an added layer of privacy. Money orders offer all of these benefits and more, which is why they continue to be a popular form of sending money domestically and internationally.

How Can I Get a Financial Money Order in Canada?

To get a financial money order in Canada, you can visit any financial institution or commercial entity that issues money orders. Alternatively, you can visit any post office location and directly purchase a money order in Canada.

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