Can You Buy a Money Order With a Debit Card? Or a Credit Card? Answered

Short Answer: You can buy a money order with a debit card at select locations. USPS, certain banks, and some grocery and convenience stores accept debit cards for money orders. Some locations also allow you to pay for a money order with a credit card, though the transaction will likely be processed as a cash advance. Cash advances carry high fees and are generally not recommended. For more details on buying a money order with a debit or credit card, see below.

In This Article

What You Need to Know About Money Orders

A money order is a secure, guaranteed payment backed by a bank. Both parties — you and your payee — must sign the money order in order to complete the payment. You can get a money order from an actual bank (or credit union), a check cashing store, most grocery or convenience stores, or the post office. For a list of over 50 places where you can get a money order, see our article.

There is usually a small fee to purchase a money order and a limit to the amount you can buy per money order. This limit often ranges from a few hundred dollars to $1,000. If you need more than that, you’ll need to purchase multiple money orders. While traditional bank checks expire after six months or so, most money orders don’t. Some do, however; so see our article for details on how long money orders are good for.

Money orders are considered a safe way to send money through the mail or make payments if you’re worried about a check bouncing. They are also a good option for those who need to pay bills without a checking account.

Western Union, MoneyGram, and the United States Postal Service (USPS) are the most well-known issuers of money orders outside of banks. To buy a Western Union or MoneyGram money order, you’ll have to visit one of their agents — often found in grocery stores, convenience stores, and check cashing stores. At your local bank or post office, just ask an employee if you can purchase a money order. It’s that easy.

Can You Buy a Money Order With a Debit Card?

The most widely accepted payment method for a money order is cash. However, you can usually use a debit card to buy a money order, too. USPS accepts cash, debit cards, and traveler’s checks. At banks and credit unions, you can usually pay with cash or a debit card. You may also be able to have the money withdrawn directly from your account if you are an account holder there. Walmart and some grocery stores — like Albertson’s, Giant Eagle, and more — also accept debit cards when purchasing a money order. It’s best to call ahead to where you’d like to buy your money order and ask if debit cards are an accepted payment method.

Can You Buy a Money Order With a Credit Card?

Fewer places let you buy a money order with a credit card, but it is possible. Many banks accept a credit card for money order purchases, as do many grocery stores, including Albertson’s, King Soopers, and Fred Meyer. Before buying a money order with a credit card, there is one important caveat you must note: Since money orders require guaranteed, upfront cash, a credit card transaction will often be processed as a cash advance.

Cash advances carry hefty added costs. Credit card companies typically charge a cash advance fee of a percentage of the transaction or a flat dollar amount, whichever is greater. For example, if you have a 5% transaction fee on $1,000, you will need to pay $50. That will be on top of whatever fees the money order comes with. A cash advance also results in a much higher APR on the transaction — as high as 27% — for which interest begins accruing immediately. It will also increase the amount of money you owe on the credit card in general. It’s advised to pay for a money order with cash or a debit card whenever possible.

In Summary

You can usually buy a money order with a debit card or, of course, cash. USPS accepts debit cards, as well as some banks and grocery stores that sell money orders. You may also be able to buy a money order with a credit card, but the transaction will be processed as a cash advance, which will cost you more money in the long run. If you’re looking for another way to pay for a money order, our article explains how to buy a money order with a gift card.

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4 comments

  • Hi, I don’t know if you’re still monitoring comments here, but if so might you know the answer to this:

    A few years ago, all the places nearby (convenience stores, tobacco stores, etc.) that sell money orders put in a policy that they’d no longer allow customers to buy money orders with debit cards. This includes longtime customers. So to buy a money order, customer must pay extra fees to get cash from the ATM, often not in the denomination they want, and then buy the money order with cash. I can’t get a straight answer on the reason.

    • Laura Bachmann says:
      First Quarter Finance logostaff

      Hi CAS,

      One of the main reasons some stores stopped accepting debit cards for money order purchases was to stop “manufactured spending.” Manufactured spending is when people use a credit card to buy prepaid debit cards (like Visa Gift Cards, which run as debit) to get a bonus on their credit card, then use the prepaid debit card to buy money orders and effectively get their money back, as if they’d never spent anything. You might also see stores saying they don’t allow money order purchases with debit because of fraud. And, one last hurdle is that when buying a money order with a debit card, the card must run as a PIN based purchase. If you pay with a debit card but the machine runs your card as credit and you don’t enter a PIN, you won’t be able to buy the money order. Many debit card networks automatically run debit cards as credit.

    • William Lipovsky says:
      First Quarter Finance logostaff

      Hi Jennifer,

      Bank money orders typically expire within 90 days but most banks will let you get a refund at any time if you don’t get around to using one before it expires.