Money orders can be a convenient way to pay bills or make payments to individuals. For example, if you plan to buy a car, you could pay the seller using a money order. Or if someone owes money to you, they might use a money order to pay.
A lost or stolen money order, however, can be a source of financial stress if you're worried about how to get the money back. While a lost money order may be an inconvenience, there are some things you can do to try to recover your cash.
Here's more on how to track a money order and what your options are when one is lost or stolen.
What Is a Money Order?
A money order is an alternative form of payment you can use in place of checks or cash.
You can purchase money orders at a variety of places, including the postal service, Walmart and money order issuers such as Western Union. It's also possible to get a money order at your bank or credit union.
The maximum dollar amounts allowed for money orders and the fees you pay to purchase them can vary based on where you buy them.
Can You Cancel a Money Order?
The short answer is yes, you can cancel a lost money order. The issuer should have a cancellation process that outlines what steps you need to take to recover your cash when a money order goes missing.
But there's a catch.
Typically, you can only cancel a money order if it hasn't been cashed yet. This is similar to how a stop payment works with a checking account.
If the money order has been cashed already, then it could be more difficult to get your money back or get a replacement money order. The only way you might be able to get your money back then is if you can prove that someone cashed the money order fraudulently.
You need to try and get a copy of the cashed money order and report it to law enforcement. If the money order was stolen and the authorities are able to track the person down, that might give you a better shot at getting the cash back.
How to Cancel a Money Order
If you need to cancel a money order because it's lost or stolen, there are certain steps to follow. The cancellation process can vary based on where it was purchased. But generally speaking, here's what you need to do:
1. Contact the issuer of the money order
The first thing to do if you're sure that your money order is lost is to contact the issuer. The issuer will be able to tell you how to cancel a money order and what to do next.
Again, this can vary based on where the money order was issued. For example, if you purchased a USPS money order, you'd need to visit your nearest post office location to request a cancellation.
If you purchased a MoneyGram money order at Walmart, you can't place a Walmart cancel order directly. Instead, you have to request a cancellation or replacement money order through MoneyGram.
If you need to cancel a Western Union money order, the way you can do it depends on how the money was sent. You can cancel your money order:
- In person at a Western Union location (if you purchased a money order in person)
- Over the phone
- Through the Western Union mobile app (for an online money order)
When you contact the issuer, explain that you need to cancel a money order and why. It helps to give as much detail as possible explaining how the money order was lost or stolen.
2. Fill out the cancellation request form
Unless you have the option to cancel a lost or stolen money order over the phone, you typically need to complete a cancellation request form with the money order issuer.
Depending on the issuer of the money order, you may need your original receipt to submit a cancellation request. The cancellation request form will ask you for specific details, including:
- The date the money order was purchased
- The money order amount
- The location that the money order was purchased
- The money order's tracking number
All of this should be included on your receipt. If you don't have the original receipt, you can still submit a cancellation request form using the information you can remember. The money order issuer may also ask for the name of the person or business that you intended to send the money order to.
3. Pay the money order cancellation fee
If you need to cancel a money order, the issuer of the money order may charge a cancellation fee to do so. This fee can vary based on from where you purchased the money order.
Here's a quick breakdown of what you can expect to pay for money order cancellation fees at some of the top money order issuers:
- Walmart (MoneyGram): $18
- Western Union: $15 if you have your original receipt; $30 if you do not
- USPS Money Order: $6.25
Different fees may apply if you purchased a money order at your bank or credit union. If you want to get a money order refund from your bank, first contact customer service to find out whether that is possible. Then, ask what you might pay for a cancellation fee and how to submit a cancellation request form.
4. Allow your cancellation request time to process
If you have to cancel a money order, you may not be able to get the money back right away. A money order refund could take several days or even several weeks to process.
Western Union, for example, can take up to 30 days to give you your money back if you canceled a money order and had your original receipt. Without your receipt, on the other hand, processing could take up to six to eight weeks.
Once your request is approved, you can receive a replacement money order. Depending on the issuer, you may receive an online money order or be mailed a paper one.
Or you could ask for a money order refund if you just want the cash back. There may be a separate fee you have to pay to get a lost or stolen money order refunded. The processing times may be about the same, depending on the issuer's refund policies.
How to Track a Money Order
If you're worried about a money order that you've sent to someone being lost or stolen, or you're due to receive a money order, you should be able to track it through the issuer.
- Western Union Tracking
You can track Western Union money orders online, either as the sender or the receiver. You just need to enter in the Western Union tracking number that's assigned to the money order to find out where it is.
- Walmart (MoneyGram) Money Order Tracking
If you want to track Money Gram money orders purchased at Walmart or another location, you can do so through the MoneyGram website. You need to have the serial number and the dollar amount to track Money Gram money orders online.
- USPS Money Order Tracking
If you want to track a money order USPS issued, you can also do that online. You need to have the money order's serial number, the post office number where it was purchased and the dollar amount to track it.
The options for tracking money orders purchased elsewhere can depend on where they were purchased.
Money Order FAQs
Yes, you can use a credit card to purchase a money order at certain issuers. Walmart and the post office, for example, do not allow you to purchase money orders with a credit card - but Western Union does.
Yes, they do. Like Walmart, CVS offers money orders through MoneyGram. This means if a money order purchased from CVS is lost or stolen, you'd need to contact MoneyGram to cancel it or have it replaced.
Money orders can be a safe and secure way to send money. For example, if someone is sending you a money order instead of a check, you don't have to worry about its bouncing because it's already been funded. But if you're sending or receiving a money order, it's important to make sure you're tracking it to minimize the risk of its being lost or stolen.
If you're worried about a money order being lost or stolen, there are other ways to send money. Opening a checking account, for example, can make it easier to write checks, schedule ACH payments or make person-to-person payments online.
When comparing checking accounts, be sure to research the fees, features and benefits, as well as the other products and services a bank or credit union offers. This can help you find the right checking account for your needs and budget.