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Can You Buy a Money Order With a Credit Card?

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Christy Rodriguez
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Christy Rodriguez

Travel & Finance Content Contributor

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After having “non-rev” privileges with Southwest Airlines, Christy dove into the world of points and miles so she could continue traveling for free. Her other passion is personal finance, and is a cer...
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Most money orders are purchased using cash or debit cards. But what if you don’t have the cash in your account and need to send your family member money or pay for something on Craigslist? You might be wondering if you can use your credit card to purchase a money order.

You can use your credit card to purchase a money order by getting a cash advance … but should you? We’ll tell you how to use your credit card to purchase a money order, what fees you might encounter, and give you some other great options to consider.

What Is a Money Order?

A money order is a secure alternative to paying by cash or check. Money orders are often used when you need to send money internationally, want to pay someone you don’t know, or need a guaranteed way to make a payment. Here are some things to consider before purchasing a money order.

Pros

Money orders don’t include personal banking information, which is normally included on personal checks. Paying with a money order can be a great option if you don’t have a banking account or if you’re paying someone you don’t know.

You have to pay a money order in full when you purchase it, so money orders are not at risk of bouncing when cashed. In addition, they are made out to a specific person or business, and a valid ID is required when they are cashed, so the risk of theft is low.

Money orders also have tracking information, including when it was bought, the amount, and banking code. If a money order is lost or stolen, it can be replaced for a fee.

You can cash money orders at a wide variety of locations and send them using foreign currency, making sending money to relatives internationally very simple.

Cons

First, you’ll need to go in person to get a money order. Also, you need cash on hand to purchase a money order. If you use a credit card to get cash, you may be hit with fees from your credit card company to process a cash advance, which comes with a higher cash advance fee and APR.

The actual purchase of a money order costs money to process as well. This varies by retailer but is usually between $1 to $3 per money order. Fees will be higher if sending the money internationally.

Retailers also limit the money order to a maximum amount, so it might require multiple orders to complete your transfer.

How Do Money Orders Work?

When you go to a location that offers money orders, you will need to provide the money upfront. This is normally done via cash or debit card. Since personal checks and credit cards can bounce for insufficient funds, retailers don’t normally accept these options.

You will give the location the amount you’d like to send via money order in addition to any fees associated with the transaction.

How Do You Purchase a Money Order With a Credit Card?

There isn’t a direct way to purchase a money order with a credit card. Western Union and 7-Eleven used to allow money order purchases with credit cards, but don’t any longer.

To use your credit card for a money order, you’ll need to get money from your credit card in the form of a cash advance. Once you have the cash, you’ll be able to pay for the money order. Cash advances can be costly, so we encourage you to read up more on the fees you’ll get charged when you get a cash advance in our detailed article.

How Do You Fill Out a Money Order?

When you fill out a money order, you’ll need to put the name and address of the person (or business) you are sending the money order to. Double-check that you have this information correct before sending it!

If you make an error, you can typically get a refund, but not without hassle. For example, Western Union notes it may take as long as 30 days to process a money order refund and this may cost anywhere from $3 to $20, depending on the value of the money order.

Bottom Line:

Writing down the correct information is incredibly important as the recipient will need to verify their identity to cash a money order.

You’ll write down the amount you’d like to send, which can also be noted in a foreign currency. You’ll also need to include your own information, such as your name and address. The “memo line” is optional, but can reference the purpose of your transfer.

Finally, you’ll sign the money order and get a receipt. Be sure to keep the receipt until it has been cashed as a record of the purchase in case it is lost or stolen.

USPS money order
This is a sample money order issued by USPS. Image Credit: USPS

What Are Money Order Fees?

Each money order has processing fees, normally between $1 to $3. USPS, for example, charges $1.75 for money orders up to $500 and $2.40 for money orders between $500.01 to $1,000.

If you’re planning on sending money internationally via USPS, there is an additional $49.65 issuing fee.

The other big companies that issue money orders include Western Union and MoneyGram. Western Union offers a money transfer price estimator for your convenience. MoneyGram offers a cost estimator as well.

If you use a bank to get a money order, fees can run anywhere from $5 to $10, but could be free if you have a personal checking account.

If you use your credit card, you’ll also get hit with a cash advance fee. These generally run 3% to 5% of the cash advance in addition to the interest you’ll immediately start accruing — yikes! The average cash advance APR is around 24%, so interest can add up quickly.

Bottom Line:

Since interest starts accruing immediately when you take out a cash advance, be sure to pay off your cash advance as quickly as possible to avoid accruing high interest fees. You don’t need to wait until your statement date to pay!

What Is the Limit for Money Orders?

Money order limits vary by retailer. For example, with USPS, $1,000 is the maximum allowed, per order. If you were hoping to send $5,000, you would need to get 5 money orders processed, resulting in $12 in fees.

There may also be a daily limit, such as $10,000 for the USPS.

Where Can You Get a Money Order With a Credit Card?

No retailers allow you to purchase a money order with a credit card directly. You’ll need to first take out a cash advance and pay for your money order with cash.

Here’s a look at the payment methods accepted by several popular money order merchants:

  • 7-Eleven — Cash or debit card
  • CVS — Cash or debit card
  • Kroger — Serviced by Western Union with cash, debit card, or traveler’s check
  • Post Office — Cash, debit card, or traveler’s check
  • Walgreens — Serviced by Western Union with cash, debit card, or traveler’s check
  • Walmart — Cash or debit card
  • Western Union — Cash, debit card, or traveler’s check
Walmart Money Order Cashing
Walmart accepts cash and debit cards for money orders. Image Credit: Walmart

How Do You Cash Out a Money Order?

If you have a bank account, you will cash a money order the same way you’ll cash a personal check. Otherwise, you can go to the location that sent it, such as Western Union, USPS, or Walmart, to get cash.

Wait to sign your money order until you get to the place where you are cashing it. You’ll be required to show a valid ID that matches the information on the money order.

How Long Is a Money Order Good For?

Money orders never expire and retain their value forever, though they may be subject to fees.

Some money order companies, such as MoneyGram, charge a service fee that will reduce the value of the money order. These monthly service fees generally kick in after a year after the issue date. Be sure to read the back of your money order to check if there are any fees.

Money Order Alternatives

After reading this, maybe you’re hoping to find some different options that you can use instead of a money order. We have a few alternatives that might work for you!

  • Pay with a credit card. For expenses such as rent, utility bills, or even taxes, paying directly with a card is an option. You might need to pay a small fee (2% to 3%) to use your credit card, but that’s still going to be less than the fees and interest for buying a money order with your credit card.
  • Take out a personal loan. According to the Federal Reserve, the average APR for a personal loan is 11.48% as of April 2023. This is significantly lower than a cash advance APR of around 24%. This can be a good option if you have good (or better) credit, but if you don’t qualify for these rates, a secured loan might be a good option.
  • Use PayPal to transfer money. This is a good option since PayPal can be sent internationally, however, there are (sometimes significant) fees associated with sending/receiving money. Try using a “fee calculator” to see if it makes sense. This option also requires both the sender and receiver to have bank accounts as well.

Final Thoughts

Should you use your credit card to purchase a money order? It’s not a great option because of the fees. We definitely don’t recommend using your card to purchase a money order if you can use one of the other alternatives we’ve listed above.

Money orders are already expensive, but a money order paid for using your credit card can really hurt your pocketbook. If you don’t have the cash and need to send a money order quickly, it is an option, but be sure to pay off your cash advance on your card quickly to minimize the fees you’ll pay.

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I find a 7-Eleven where I can buy a money order with a credit card?

Use 7-Eleven’s store locator to find the closest store that offers money orders. You will also be able to see the store hours to ensure the location is open when you need to purchase your money order.

How do you get a money order at Walmart using a credit card?

You’ll need to get a cash advance from your credit card first. Walmart only accepts cash or debit cards as payment options when purchasing a money order. 

Do money orders expire?

Money orders do not expire, but some companies charge a service fee if they have not been cashed after a set amount of time (normally a year). This fee reduces the amount of the money order and can even bring it down to zero if not cashed timely. See the details on your money order for information about this fee.

Can I run my debit card as credit for a money order?

While you can use your debit card as a credit card to get cash to pay for a money order, it makes more sense to use your debit card to take out cash instead. With a debit card, the cash you take out won’t be subject to any fees or higher interest payments since it is just coming directly out of your bank account. It will cost you far less to use your debit card instead of your credit card when purchasing a money order.

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About Christy Rodriguez

After having “non-rev” privileges with Southwest Airlines, Christy dove into the world of points and miles so she could continue traveling for free. Her other passion is personal finance, and is a certified CPA.

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