Do money orders expire?

By Izzy M Reviewed by Nooreen B Edited by Sarah R
Modified on February 20, 2024
how long are money orders good for

Money orders are a helpful tool for sending and receiving money. But what happens if you do not cash that money order right away? There are different reasons why a money order may not get cashed. Perhaps you lost your photo ID or haven’t visited the bank recently. So you may ask, “Do money orders expire?”

Keep reading to learn more about money orders, whether they have an expiration date, and to answer the question, “is a money order safe?” 

What Is a Money Order?

A money order is a secured paper check that requires money upfront. Many individuals and organizations request money orders because they don’t bounce and are secure. In a 2022 report from the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, 13% of adults used non-bank check cashing or money orders.1 To buy a money order, you need to use a guaranteed form of payment, such as cash or a debit card

Suppose you intend on sending someone a $200 money order. In that case, you will need to provide that exact amount of money in addition to the service fee. You can obtain a money order at the post office, bank, and certain retail stores. You may also get a money order at check-cashing stores or payday loan stores. 

You will receive a money order receipt once you pay. The money order receipt allows you to track the money and recover funds if you lose the money order or someone steals it. A money order is better than a bank check because it provides more security. A bank check has your account number, but a money order has no personal bank information. 

Many people confuse a money order with a cashier’s check. These two payment options are similar, but a cashier’s check requires an active checking account. A money order is better than a cashier’s check simply because a bank account is not necessary to send money. 

How Much Are Service Fees for a Postal Money Order?

There will be a non-refundable service charge for sending a money order. However, the cost of service fees varies per location. You may get a service fee as low as $1 and as high as $5. The United States Postal Service charges $1.45 for money orders less than $500 and $1.95 for money orders between $500.01 and $1,000. If you buy a postal military money order from a military facility, you will have to pay a small fee of $0.50.

Is There a Limit on United States Postal Service Money Orders?

There are purchase limits for USPS money orders. A domestic money order within the United States has a maximum of $1,000. The purchase maximum for international postal money orders varies by country, but the amount cannot exceed $700. 

Want to buy more than one USPS money order? There is no daily limit on money order purchases, so you can buy multiple. But you must fill out a special form and provide a valid government-issued photo ID if you purchase more than $3,000 in money orders. You can provide a driver’s license, state identification card, or military ID as proof of identity.

Is There an Expiration Date for Money Orders?

You may worry about a potential expiration date if you received a money order and forgot to cash it. Do money orders expire? The good news is they don’t! Money orders retain their face value indefinitely. 

If you do not cash an old money order within a few years of the purchase date, you may have to pay a fee in certain states. For example, Western Union will deduct a non-refundable service charge from the principal amount of the money order. 

Can I Replace a Postal Money Order?

If a money order from the post office becomes damaged, can you get a replacement? Yes! The United States Postal Service issues replacement postal money orders for the following reasons:

A money order becomes damagedWhen a money order is physically harmed, making it difficult to read or process.
A money order is defectiveWhen a money order has an issue with its printing or encoding, which affects its usability.
A money order is spoiled during imprinting or customer completionWhen a money order is rendered unusable or spoiled due to errors during the imprinting process or customer completion, such as incorrect information or mistakes made by the customer.

Suppose you bought a money order for a friend that needed some financial assistance. Can you submit a refund request if that friend already acquired the money after you bought the money order? You can get your money back by replacing the spoiled money order.

To replace a money order, you must provide the original postal money order and the original purchase receipt. You will also have to fill out the PS Form 6401, referred to as the money order inquiry document. There is no fee for a replacement.

What if You Lose a Postal Money Order?

If you have lost a postal money order or had it stolen, rest easy knowing that the post office can replace it! The post office charges a $6.95 processing fee for stolen or lost money orders. Speak to a retail associate at any post office location about a money order inquiry. You can then check the status of your inquiry online by visiting the application webpage. 

The post office will issue a replacement once the money order is confirmed to be stolen or lost. It takes about 30 days for a money order loss or theft to be confirmed. However, investigating a lost or stolen money order can take as much as 60 days. 

Are There Any Downsides of Money Orders?

Money orders are useful financial tools, but there are some cons to consider before buying or sending one. 


To pay with a money order, the purchaser must buy it in person and mail it or physically hand it to the recipient. There are also purchase limits for money orders, so you may not be able to obtain or send as much money as you need. 

If you need to borrow funds from someone through a loan, applying for a private loan on your own may be more convenient than requesting a money order. You can inquire about online quick cash loans and get money in as little as one business day without leaving home!

Paying Fees 

Paying a small fee to send a money order may not be a big deal, but the cost can quickly add up if you constantly pay with money orders. Having a checking account can be more affordable than money orders. If you do not have a bank account, you can quickly sign up for free to take advantage of various payment methods. There are plenty of checking account options without a monthly service charge. 

Potential Scams

Scammers often use money orders. An advance-fee scam is a common fraud tactic to be wary of. A scam artist may promise a significant loan in exchange for a small upfront fee through a money order. If you receive a money order, look out for signs of tampering or misspellings. You should also be cautious of a money order if the sender is desperate for you to cash it.


What’s the difference between domestic money orders and international money orders?

Domestic money orders are used for transactions within the same country, while international ones are designed for sending money overseas. The fees may vary, and there could be different maximum amount limits for international money orders compared to domestic ones.

How can I cash a money order?

To cash a money order, you typically need to go to a bank or a place that cashes personal checks and money orders, like grocery stores, check-cashing stores like Western Union, or convenience stores. Bring a valid photo ID with you. Some places may charge a fee.

Can I buy a money order with a debit card?

Yes, you can purchase a money order using a debit card at many locations, including banks, post offices, and retail stores. However, it’s advisable to check the accepted payment methods at the location where you intend to buy the money order.

What are the alternatives to cash money orders when it comes to sending money?

Other options for sending money include bank transfers, electronic payments like PayPal or Venmo, cashier’s checks, personal check options, or wire transfers. Each of these methods has its own set of advantages and drawbacks, so the right one for you depends on your particular needs.

Do retail stores sell money orders?

Yes, many retail stores sell money orders, often at a customer service desk. Some of the retail stores also have the capability to cash money orders. It’s a good idea to call ahead to your local stores to see if they provide these services and what the associated fees are.

Conclusion About Money Orders With CreditNinja

A money order is a valuable and secure financial tool for sending and receiving money. A bank account is not necessary to buy a money order, so just about anyone can get one. There are also no expiration dates for money orders. You can hold onto a money order for years and still claim the payment, although some states may charge a service fee.

To learn more about checks, banking, loans like payday loans, unsecured loans vs. secured loans, and more, check out the CreditNinja Dojo. 


  1. Banking and Credit | Federal Reserve
  2. What Is A Money Order And How Does It Work? | Forbes
  3. Money Orders – The Basics | USPS
  4. Sending Money Orders | USPS

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