There are plenty of reasons to buy and cash money orders. But what if you need to get a money order refunded? Is this even possible? What are the refund policies for the major money order issuers?

In this article, we’ve compiled all key information to help guide you through the refund process for a money order that was purchased from a bank or credit union, MoneyGram, USPS, or Western Union.

In This Article:

  • What to Know Before Asking for a Refund

  • An Overview of How Getting a Refund Works

  • Rules for Each Issuer:

    • Banks and Credit Unions
    • MoneyGram
    • United States Postal Service (USPS)
    • Western Union

What to Know Before Asking for a Refund

The good news is, yes, it is possible to obtain a refund on a money order. The bad news is that the process can be expensive and time-consuming. Remember that when you request a refund, you are still liable for the original money order made out to someone else, until a stop payment is issued.

Therefore, attempting to ensure that the original money order isn’t cashed, while your refund request is being processed, is extremely important.

Be sure to also keep an eye on the money order expiration dates (for more information on money order expiration dates, please go here).

Some providers may not have expiration dates or may still issue a refund after an expiration date assuming that the purchaser still has the original money order and receipt. This policy varies though and you should confirm the company’s policy on expired money orders before sending them any paperwork and fees.

An Overview of How Getting a Refund Works

When trying to obtain a refund, having your original money order receipt will make life a lot easier. While Western Union does issue refunds without a receipt, the USPS and MoneyGram do not issue refunds without the original receipt. Bank/credit union rules vary per institution. If you have the original money order and receipt and it is still blank (you haven’t made the order out to anyone yet) then simply make yourself the recipient of the order and cash or deposit it at a bank or other location that accepts money orders (for more information on how to cash a money order, please go here).

In the remainder of this article, we will specifically outline the money order refund/replacement process for the most common money order establishments:

  • Banks & Credit Unions
  • MoneyGram
  • United States Postal Service (USPS)
  • Western Union

Let’s dive in and help you get that refund!

Rules for Each Issuer:

Banks & Credit Unions

  • Receipt necessary to obtain a refund: Varies by institution
  • Type of Refund: Varies by institution
  • Time it takes for refund to be issued: Varies by institution
  • Cost of requesting a refund: Varies by institution

If you purchase a money order from a bank or credit union, ask about their refund policies before you buy.

If you have the original money order and it has not been cashed then you can follow these steps to obtain a refund:

  1. Go to the bank or credit union where the money order was purchased.
  2. Bring your money order and receipt (which will contain the money order number, amount, date, and payee information).
  3. With the  teller/cashier watching, turn the money order over and write on the endorsement line: “Not used for purpose intended”, followed by your signature.
  4. With government-issued ID, you’ll then be able to deposit the funds into your account.

If you no longer have the original money order, or it is lost, damaged, or stolen, follow these steps:

  1. Go to the bank or credit union where the money order was purchased.
  2. Bring your receipt (which will contain the money order number, amount, date, and payee information).
  3. If the money order was made out to someone else, the bank or credit union representative will first check to ensure that it was not already cashed.
  4. If the money order was not cashed, the bank or credit union representative can initiate stop payment procedures (stop payment usually takes at least 24 hours to complete).
  5. Following successful stop payment, you’ll be able to obtain a replacement money order on the following business day, and then cash it or deposit it into your account to recover the funds.

Please keep in mind that the processes for applying for a refund or reissuance from banks or credit unions can vary according to the financial institution.

MoneyGram

  • Receipt necessary to obtain a refund: Yes
  • Type of Refund:  Refund Check
  • Time it takes for refund to be issued: 15 to 20 days
  • Cost of requesting a refund: $18

As mentioned earlier, a receipt is essential to receive a refund from MoneyGram. If you have lost your receipt, unfortunately, you will not be granted a refund (neither will recipients).

If you have the original money order and it has not been cashed then you can follow these steps to obtain a refund:

  1. Do NOT alter the money order in any way.
  2. Bring your money order and receipt to a bank or check cashing store and ask if they will refund it for you.
  3. Once you have found a location that will accept the money order, with the teller/cashier watching, turn the money order over and write on the endorsement line: “Not used for purpose intended”, followed by your signature.
  4. The bank or check cashing store will then issue a refund.

If you no longer have the original money order, or it is lost, damaged, or stolen, follow these steps:

  1. Start the process by filling out this form, contacting them by phone (1-800-542-3590), or returning to the originating place of purchase.
  2. Receive or print the Money Order Claim Card.
  3. Fill out the Money Order Claim Card, following instructions carefully.
  4. Make sure you sign the card; MoneyGram will not reissue your money order if you don’t.
  5. Keep the top half of the form for your records.
  6. Attach a copy of your money order receipt.
  7. Include processing fees ($18.00).
  8. Make and keep copies of all the paperwork and payment for your own records.
  9. Return the signed claim card, receipt, and payment to MoneyGram by mail to MoneyGram International (address provided on the form).
  10. If the money order has not been cashed, a refund check may be issued.
  11. If the money order was already cashed, MoneyGram will send you a photocopy of the cashed money order. Claims are processed within 15 days of receipt (with an additional five days for mailing).

United States Postal Service (USPS)

  • Receipt necessary to obtain a refund: Yes
  • Type of Refund: Refund Check or Replacement Money Order
  • Time it takes for refund to be issued: 60 days
  • Cost of requesting a refund: $5.95 by mail or $10-$19 online

The USPS offers refunds on money orders up to two years from the original date of purchase within the United States, and 90 days internationally.

They will not issue a refund without a receipt.

If you no longer have the original money order and you want to obtain a refund, you must first initiate a payment inquiry with the USPS either in person at a physical USPS location or online via the USPS website.

If you have the original money order and it has not been cashed then you can follow these steps to obtain a refund:

  1. Do NOT alter the money order in any way.
  2. Bring your money order, receipt and identification to the Post Office.
  3. Go up to the customer service desk and endorse the Money Order according to what the service representative tells you to do.
  4. The Post Office will then cash the money order for you.

If the original money order is damaged or destroyed, follow these quick steps:

  1. Go to the Post Office and bring “the negotiable portion of the money order and the matching customer receipt.”
  2. After verifying the order, the Post Office will issue a replacement money order.
  3. You can now write your name as the recipient
  4. Take your new money order to be cashed or deposited (for more information on how to cash a money order, please go here).

If you no longer have the original money order, or it is lost, or stolen, follow these steps:

  1. Go into your local post office branch with your money order receipt.
  2. Request and fill out PS Form 6401 Money Order Inquiry Form.
  3. Give the form to the clerk for verification.
  4. Pay the $5.95 processing fee.
  5. Keep your receipt, with inquiry ID, in a safe place.
  6. Wait for the USPS to process your payment inquiry (this takes approximately 60 days) and mail you a resolution letter with their findings and further instruction.

If you would like to initiate the search yourself via the USPS website to determine if your money order was cashed (this is the more expensive method), follow these steps:

  1. Go to the USPS website.
  2. Fill out the USPS Money Orders Search – Secure Order Form.
  3. Select a type of search: a USPS database search ($10.00) or include a search of your state’s unclaimed funds database (extra $5.00, per state included).
  4. Decide if you want the results delivered by email (included) or by USPS First Class Mail (extra $4.00).
  5. Provide your credit/debit card information.
  6. Submit your search.
  7. Wait for the USPS to research your claim.

Next steps will depend on if the money order was cashed by the payee or not, and if it was cashed fraudulently. If the money order was not cashed or was cashed fraudulently, the ultimate outcome will most likely be an issuance of a blank replacement money order for the original amount.

Western Union

  • Receipt necessary to obtain a refund: No
  • Type of Refund: Refund Check
  • Time it takes for refund to be issued: 6-8 weeks
  • Cost of requesting a refund: $15 with receipt or $30 without receipt

Like most issuers, Western Union refunds purchasers and recipients of money orders for those that are lost, stolen or destroyed.

They also process money order refund requests without a receipt.

In addition, if the money order is already cashed, they will mail the requestor a photocopy of the cashed money order.

If you have the original money order and it has not been cashed then you can follow these steps to obtain a refund:

  1. Do NOT alter the money order in any way.
  2. Bring your money order and receipt to a bank or check cashing store and ask if they will refund it for you.
  3. Once you have found a bank that will accept the money order, with the teller/cashier watching, turn the money order over and write on the endorsement line: “Not used for purpose intended”, followed by your signature.
  4. The bank will then issue a refund.

If you no longer have the original money order, or it is lost, damaged, or stolen, follow these steps:

  1. Contact Western Union online or by phone (1-800-999-9600).
  2. Receive or print the Money Order Customer Request (have receipt) or Money Order Research Request (do not have receipt) form.
  3. Fill out the request form.
  4. When using the Money Order Customer Request form: signature is required or your refund will not be processed. When using the Money Order Research Request form: signature is required and you must have it notarized.
  5. Attach your money order receipt.
  6. Include processing fees ($15.00, with receipt or $30.00, without receipt).
  7. Make and keep copies of all the paperwork and payment for your own records.
  8. Return the signed claim card, receipt and payment to Western Union by mail, email (RMO@westernunion.com), or fax (1-720-864-0477).

Western Union takes six to eight weeks (longer end of the spectrum is for those without a receipt) to process requests.

In Summary

And that’s how to refund a money order for each of the most popular types of money orders. It’s a bit of a dance. Often, it’s a bit of a wait. But at least you can refund a money order and the process has been laid out for you up above. Enjoy getting your money back where it belongs.