Money Order Expiration Policies Explained (Western Union, etc.)

When life gets busy, errands like cashing a money order are sometimes pushed aside.

It's helpful to know when and if old money orders that were previously lost, forgotten, or delivered to you much later than expected expire.

Woman marking a money order reminder on her calendar

Each money order issuer has a unique policy regarding expiration, but in most cases, your money order will depreciate rather than expire.

The depreciation timeline and amount for your money order will depend on the issuer. It usually takes one to three years for a money order to begin losing value.[1][2][3][4]

I detail each major money order issuer’s policy below — plus your options for what to do with an old money order.

Do Money Orders Expire?

Money orders typically don’t expire, but one to three years after purchase, most issuers will charge service fees when you attempt to cash or refund the money order, meaning it’ll be worth less than it was at the time of purchase.[1][2][3][4]

Service fees typically accrue monthly,[1][4] so the longer you wait to resolve the issue, the less your money order will be worth.

Policies by Issuer

I detail the depreciation policy for each of the major money order issuers below.

I’ve listed the issuers alphabetically so you can easily find the one that matches your money order.

Amscot

  • Depreciation policy: Money orders begin depreciating monthly after one year. Amscot will deduct a monthly service charge of $2 from the face value, with a maximum fee of $144.[4][5]

MoneyGram

  • Depreciation policy: Once the money order is a year old, MoneyGram will charge a monthly service fee (in the amount displayed on the back of your money order). It will deduct the accumulated service fees from the face value.[1]

United States Postal Service (USPS)

  • Depreciation policy: No depreciation; the USPS will pay the exact, full value of the money order, regardless of the original purchase date.[2]

Western Union

  • Depreciation policy: Within one to three years of the original purchase date, the money order will begin to depreciate. The exact service fees will appear on the back of your money order.[6][3]

Note that many banks also sell money orders that don’t expire but do depreciate. Policies regarding depreciation and refunds may vary depending on your relationship with the bank, so it’s best to visit a branch for assistance.[7][8][9][10]

What to Do With an Old Money Order

You can cash an old money order to prevent it from depreciating further.[11] See the list of places that cash money orders.

If you were the original buyer, you also have the option to request a replacement or refund.

If you don’t have the original money order in hand, you should first track it to be sure no one has cashed it.

Assuming no one has cashed it, you can get a replacement. This will allow you to resend the money order or fill it out to yourself and cash it.

If you don’t need to resend the money order, you can request a refund.

Note that you’ll need the original receipt or stub to receive a replacement or refund.

Tip: If you have a money order that’s filled out to you or blank, cashing it will be the easiest and least expensive option. If you refund or replace the money order, you’ll pay an additional processing fee — usually anywhere from $12 to $25.[12][2][13][14]

FAQ

How long are money orders from stores like Walmart good for?

Stores don’t issue their own money orders. They serve as authorized agents for MoneyGram or Western Union. The standard MoneyGram or Western Union expiration policy will apply.[15]

Do money order expiration policies vary by state?

The same expiration policy applies nationwide — whether you’re in Maine, Texas, Washington, or anywhere in between. However, the exact amount you’ll pay in service charges does vary by state.[16]

Do money orders have expiration dates or purchase dates printed on them?

Your money order won’t include an expiration date or an exact date when depreciation will begin. However, the front of your money order and the receipt should display the purchase date. The back of your money order will also include printed instructions, which you can use to calculate when your money order will begin to drop in value.[17][18][5]

Find out more in the full money order FAQ.

In Summary

Money orders from most issuers (including MoneyGram, Western Union, and Amscot) generally depreciate over time rather than expiring. However, USPS money orders don’t expire or depreciate.

If you have a blank money order you purchased or an old one that you received, you can cash it to stop it from depreciating further; if you sent one that was never cashed, you can request a replacement or refund.

If you have any questions or want to share your experience with cashing an old money order, feel free to leave a comment below.

  1. https://www.moneygram.com/mgo/us/en/help/faq/money-orders[][][][]
  2. https://www.usps.com/shop/money-orders.htm[][][][]
  3. https://www.westernunion.com/us/en/money-order.html[][][]
  4. https://www.amscot.com/free-money-orders.aspx[][][][]
  5. Amscot customer service (800) 801-4444[][]
  6. https://wucare.westernunion.com/s/article/Do-money-orders-have-an-expiration-date?language=en_US[]
  7. https://www.wellsfargo.com/online-banking/service-fees/[]
  8. https://www.chase.com/content/dam/chase-ux/documents/personal/checking/ABSF-en.pdf[]
  9. Chase Bank branch customer service representatives[]
  10. Fifth Third Bank branch customer service representatives[]
  11. Western Union customer service via live chat[]
  12. https://www.amscot.com/resources/MoneyOrderClaimForm819EN.pdf[]
  13. https://wucare.westernunion.com/s/article/How-do-I-request-a-money-order-refund?language=en_US[]
  14. https://www.moneygram.com/mgo/us/en/help/faq/money-orders/[]
  15. Walmart store customer service representatives[]
  16. https://wucare.westernunion.com/s/article/Do-money-orders-have-an-expiration-date?language=en_US[]
  17. Western Union customer service via live chat[]
  18. https://www.usps.com/shop/money-orders.htm[]

39 comments


  • Chip

    Hi I am wondering about the USPS money order expiration information. I’ve googled this information prior to finding your webpage and it states that USPS money orders expire in 6 months from the date of purchase is this correct or is this information incorrect that I found while Googling this information about the expiration time. For United States postal money orders?

    • First Quarter Finance logo
      First Quarter Finance | Kathleen Wilson

      Hi Chip,
      According to the USPS website, “Money orders are a secure payment method. They are convenient, affordable, and widely accepted. Money orders are a good way to send cash that never expires.

      I found the information you’re referencing, but it looks like the 6 month expiry date is for postal orders purchased in the UK. For U.S. Postal Service money orders, there’s no expiration date! Hope this clears things up 🙂

  • Alan

    Hi there I have a money order from Barclays Bank in London , I am from Australia .
    The money order has a date from 2005
    And now it’s 2017 .
    My father has now deceased and I am left with this money order.
    I have rang Barclays in London and also there bank here in Australia said basically they can’t do anything as this is expired .

    Or is this just an excuse ? If anyone could help much appreciated.

    Alan

    • First Quarter Finance logo
      First Quarter Finance | Kathleen Wilson

      Hi Alan,
      For bank-issued money orders, the bank has the ultimate say in deciding if it will cash it or not once it’s expired. As a final option, you may try contacting Barclays Customer Service directly to see if they have the authority to help you more than the individual bank that you contact. You can contact them by phone, email, or web chat. Hope you’re able to find someone who’s willing and able to help you find a solution and recover at least some of the money from that money order.

  • Name* (displayed publicly)

    I have a USPS money order from my tenant to cover the security deposit. I would like to keep it and see if I cash it at the end of rental period or give it to her back. Do you think it is convenient to do that?

    • First Quarter Finance logo
      First Quarter Finance | Laura Bachmann

      Hi,

      Postal money orders never expire, so I don’t see any problem with holding on to the money order until the end of the month before you decide what to do with it.

  • Charlene

    I purchased a few money orders to pay my son’s mortgage. I have power of attorney over him. I wrote the money orders out to the bank and signed his name. They foreclosed on the house and sent me back all the money orders. How do I get my money back from the money orders? One of them is Western Union and the rest are USPS. Please help. I have a lot of money invested in these money orders.

    • First Quarter Finance logo
      First Quarter Finance | Rebecca Turley

      Hi Charlene,

      You will need to apply for a refund on these money orders. You can find instructions here on requesting money order refunds.

  • Lois

    I just tried to cash a money order from my grandmother. She purchased it on June 21, 2008 from US Bank in the amount of $2000. I didn’t need the money so my intention was to save it until such time that she might need it. She recently passed away and I thought I’d use the funds to help pay for her funeral expenses. My bank advised me to take it to US Bank. My local US Bank told me that after 7 years they no longer keep records of such things and can’t tell if the money order hasn’t already been cashed, thus they wouldn’t cash it.
    So my question is, is it worth my efforts to pursue this further or should I just mark this down as ‘one of life’s lessons’?
    Somehow it just doesn’t seem fair that US Bank gets to keep the money.

    • First Quarter Finance logo
      First Quarter Finance | Rebecca Turley

      Hi Lois,

      Unfortunately, most money orders have expiration dates, with the exception of those bought through the United States Postal Service. I wish I had better news for you! The only other thing I would recommend is contacting either MoneyGram or Western Union to see if there’s anything you can do at this point. Good luck!

  • bevlyn

    hi
    l purchased money order in (2012)it was meant to pay school fee,and i forgot about it.I want to take to school this year,what should I do

    • First Quarter Finance logo
      First Quarter Finance | Rebecca Turley

      Hi Bevlyn,

      Your ability to use this money order will depend on who issued it. A bank-issued, MoneyGram, or Western Union money order will not longer be valid, but a USPS money order, because it has no expiration date, will still be valid.

  • Monique

    If a money order has been cashed how long can it be traced? The company that cashed it is now saying a year later that they never received the payment.

    • First Quarter Finance logo
      First Quarter Finance | Sarah Quinn

      Monique,

      Your ability to trace a money order will depend on where you purchased it. I recommend contacting the location where you purchased the money order to find out more about your options for determining whether or not it was ever cashed and whether they’ll have documentation available to help you prove it. I hope this helps!

  • Marta

    I’m very nervous because I brought a money order march 24, 2017 in chase bank to pay to the order of department of homeland security for my citizenship and I don’t know how long is going to take for them to cash the money order. Do you know how long it takes for bank money orders to expires? I don’t know what to do? Please help me I need your advice, thank you

    • First Quarter Finance logo
      First Quarter Finance | Sarah Quinn

      Marta,

      Typically, money orders from a bank expire in 90 days, but banks typically allow you to get a refund at any time if you have not used the money order by then. It sounds like you still have several weeks before you would need to start worrying about your money order’s expiration. I would contact your local Chase Bank to find out when your specific money order will expire. Best of luck — I hope this helps!

  • Greta

    Hi,
    I’m in possession of several expired money orders from Citibank(1984-86), Roslyn Savings Banks(1987), USAA(1991) and one US Savings Bonds from 1978. I’ve tried to find an answer online but can’t find any information. Please advise how to cash them. Thanx a lot.

    • First Quarter Finance logo
      First Quarter Finance | Hillary M. Miller

      Hi Greta,

      Unfortunately, if the money orders are expired, there may be little that you can do to cash them. Different states and different banks have varying limits and restrictions that govern expired money orders, so the best option is to get in touch with the particular banks that issued the money orders to see if you would be able to cash or deposit them, or if there is some other process you could go through to access the funds. Policies vary quite a bit by bank, so you may have differing results for the money orders depending on the issuer. Best of luck getting this resolved!

  • David

    Hi,
    I’ve accumulated about 20 USPS Money Orders within the past 4-5 years as reminders of cities/places that I’ve been to.
    These money orders are blank. However, I have all of the accompanying receipts.
    If I needed money, would I be able to deposit these money orders into my bank account hassle free? Much Thanks.

    • First Quarter Finance logo
      First Quarter Finance | Hillary M. Miller

      Hi David,

      As long as the money orders are not yet filled out, you can simply write your own name in the “Pay to” field and deposit it in your bank account just as you would with any other check. Since USPS money orders don’t expire, you should be able to deposit or cash your money orders whenever you like. I hope this helps!

  • Víctor Lopez

    Can I cash a domestic USPS money order un Mexico?

    • First Quarter Finance logo
      First Quarter Finance | Hillary M. Miller

      Hi Victor,

      Unfortunately, you won’t be able to cash a domestic money order in Mexico. Money orders that are purchased in the United States to be cashed in a different country must be international money orders.

  • Dori

    I purchased a BANK money order in 2011(in Georgia). The money order was made payable to a business. The company(payee) did not accept the money order and as time went by, I forgot about it. Now I’ve taken the money order back to the bank. One employee told me their money orders do not expire. However, when another employee deposited it back into my account, it was returned and a fee charged. Any suggestions?

    • First Quarter Finance logo
      First Quarter Finance | Hillary M. Miller

      Hi Dori,

      That sounds like a headache! I can’t speak for the specific policies at your bank, as different institutions will handle money orders in different ways, but it sounds like it’s definitely worth contesting the fee since an employee had told you that the bank’s money orders did not expire. You’ll need to get in touch with the bank directly for more information; hopefully you can get the fee waived as a start, and then you can find out about getting a refund for the unused money order per the standard policies of your bank. Best of luck!

  • ital

    hi i brought a money order in December 14 2015 i paid a fine at court with it they send me a letter saying it was expired and yes it was a us postal money order i used it like on December 14th 2016. why would they send it back smh..i read it does not expire US postal money order

    • First Quarter Finance logo
      First Quarter Finance | Hillary M. Miller

      Hi Ital,

      Sorry to hear about the trouble you had with your money order! As USPS money orders do not expire, I’m not sure why you were informed that your payment was not valid. You may have received the letter in error. To find out for sure, you’ll need to get in touch with the agency that issued the letter to find out more about why this happened and what the next steps are. Best of luck getting this resolved!

  • Paula Shirley

    When a western union money order expires what and how do u get your money back

    • First Quarter Finance logo
      First Quarter Finance | Hillary M. Miller

      Hi Paula,

      To refund a money order from Western Union, here’s what you’ll need to do:
      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: if not signed, your refund is not processed. When using the Money Order Research Request form, you must sign the form and have it notarized.
      5. Keep a copy for your records.
      6. Attach your money order receipt.
      7. Include processing fees ($15.00, with receipt or $30.00, without receipt).
      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.
      You can read more about refunding money orders in this First Quarter Finance article. I hope this helps!

    • Gladys Strahan

      I am the payee of a Weston Union out of date money order. How can I cash it?
      I misplaced it for 2 years and have recently found it behind the back of a drawer
      and would like to get the money as it was paid to me for rent.

      • First Quarter Finance logo
        First Quarter Finance | Laura Bachmann

        Hi Gladys,

        You might be able to cash it. For money orders that are one to three years old Western Union might charge a non-refundable service charge to cash the money order. You can find the terms for your specific money order written on the back of it. Read the terms, and if you money order can still be cashed, take it to a Western Union or other location that cashes Western Union money orders. To find somewhere, see our article on Where to Cash a Western Union Money Order.

  • hora silveira

    i do a money order for migracion have a expiration day?

    • First Quarter Finance logo
      First Quarter Finance | Hillary M. Miller

      Hi Hora,

      Some types of money orders have expiration dates and some do not. Who is the provider of your money order (Western Union, MoneyGram, USPS)? This will usually be displayed at the top or bottom of the money order. Once you know which company provided the money order, you can look at the article above to find out when the money order will expire. I hope this helps!

  • barbara

    can you make changes to the front of a money der like you can a check?I have a partially made out money order that I purchased to pay an obligation then was told I did not have to pay it.I need to be able to deposit it back to my bank account.How do I accomplish this?

    • First Quarter Finance logo
      First Quarter Finance | Hillary M. Miller

      Hi Barbara,

      I saw in your other comment that you were wondering if the person that the money order was made out to could endorse it back to you. Under normal circumstances, most places are extremely reluctant to accept two party money orders (or refuse to do so outright) because of the risk of forgery. However, since it’s being endorsed back to you as the original purchaser, you might have an easier time cashing it into your own bank account. It might be worth calling up your bank to explain the situation and ask if they would accept a money order that’s been signed back to you. If they won’t, you can (most likely) get a refund from the company that issued the money order, although it will probably take more time and money to go that route. You can read more about getting a refund on a money order in this post.

  • Jan Ramsey

    Money orders bought 6/4/1016 do they expire? I took 5 in and my bank called and said that they were 2 out 5 are good. Why? Not fair I bought them 6/04/2016 and now I want my money back. It’s over $ 100.00 now what do I do

    • First Quarter Finance logo
      First Quarter Finance | Hillary M. Miller

      Hi Jan,

      Most types of money orders, but not all, do expire. The length of time they’re good for depends on the type of money order. A USPS money order never expires, a Western Union money order expires a year after the issue date, a bank-issued money order typically expires after 90 days, and MoneyGram doesn’t specify an expiration date for their money orders. Depending on the type of money order, you may be able to get a refund. We provide instructions for how to do this with each type of money order in the above article. I hope this helps!

  • Terri Lohrum

    How do I redeem a USPS Money Order that was not used for the purpose intended? Can I take it back to the USPS where it was purchased and get my money back? Can I take it to my bank to deposit it?

    • First Quarter Finance logo
      First Quarter Finance | William Lipovsky

      Hi Terri,

      You can make put the money order into your name and then either cash it at a post office or your bank. One thing to note about the post office option is that post office hubs in retail outlets usually don’t cash money orders. And that post offices will cash money orders but there’s not often much cash on hand so it would be wise to call ahead to your desired location and ask if they have enough money to cover your money order (without it sounding like you’re going to rob them ha). Note: If you’ve already made out the money order to someone else, write ‘Not used for purpose intended’ followed by your signature.

    • barbara

      can the person or business a money order is made out to transfer it back to me by endorsing it on the back like a check so I can then deposit it to my bank account like I would a two party check?

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