Do Money Orders Expire? How Long Are They Good For? Answered

Money orders are a prepaid note, similar to a check, that can be made out and used to pay bills or send money securely in the mail. You can buy a money order for a set value from the post office, banks, credit unions, retail stores, and other establishments. When you buy a money order you pay the face value of the money order and usually a small fee. You’ll make out the money order to a payee, and include their name and address. When they cash or deposit the money order, they’ll be required to show an ID. This makes a money order more secure than a check on both ends. The payer is more secure because the money order can’t be cashed by the wrong person and doesn’t include their bank account details. The payee is more secure because the money order is prepaid and can’t bounce like a personal check.

In this article, we cover the ins and outs of the standard expiration rules for all of the major money order providers, including banks, Western Union, MoneyGram, and of course, the good old U.S. Post Office.

How Long Is A Money Order Good For?

How long is a money order good for? Money orders may or may not expire depending on the type of money order used. Here’s how long you have before a money order will expire, organized by money order issuer, and what you can do if you have an expired money order. This info is for payers and payees, i.e., those of you whose name appears on the money order at issue.

1. Amscot

  • How long until expiration: Money orders don’t expire, but after one year they will begin to lose value (“depreciate.”) Check the depreciation info on the back of your Amscot money order to confirm its specific terms.
  • How to check the status of a money order (i.e., whether it’s been cashed): Call the branch where the money order was purchased and provide the Money Order number. Amscot can let you know if the check has cleared their account.
  • How to request a refund/replacement: Initiate a Money Order claim. You’ll need to pick up the money order claim form from your local Amscot Branch. Complete the form and send it in with a $12 processing fee and the original Money Order stub (required). If the Money Order has been cashed, you will receive a copy of the front and back and if not, a stop payment will be placed and the Money Order reissued to you after the standard 30 to 45 day processing time.

2. MoneyGram

  • How long until expiration: Money orders are valid for one year after purchase. After a year, you can still cash the money order, but you’ll have to pay a service fee. When you cash the money order, the service will be deducted from the face value of the money order. Specific service fees vary depending on the state where you cash your order but are usually around $1.50 per month, so they’ll add up the longer you wait!
  • How to check the status of a money order (i.e., whether it’s been cashed): Call MoneyGram’s automated line at (800) 542-3590. You will need to enter your money order number and the exact dollar amount of your money order.
  • How to request a refund/replacement:
    • Payers: Fill out and submit the Money Order Refund Request (also available in Spanish). The form includes instructions and costs $18 to submit. Use the same form regardless of whether your money order was filled out or not. If the money order hasn’t been cashed, you can recover a refund. If it has been cashed already, MoneyGram will send you a photocopy of it.
    • Payees: You can request a refund by filling out the Payee Refund Request Form (also available in Spanish). It costs $18 to submit, and if the money order is cashed after MoneyGram refunds you, you’ll be liable to MoneyGram for the value of the money order, too. You’ll need to know the money order serial number to fill out this form.
  • Source: Call to MoneyGram customer service; MoneyGram Money Order FAQs, MoneyGram service forms

3. TD Bank

  • How long until expiration: Money orders don’t expire
  • How to check the status of a money order (i.e., whether it’s been cashed): Visit a TD Bank branch. You’ll need to bring your receipt proving purchase.
  • How to request a refund/replacement: Visit a TD Bank branch to request a refund. Be sure to bring your receipt. If a money order has been lost or stolen, TD Bank can place a stop payment on it immediately, and after 24 hours, they may be able to issue a replacement.
  • Source: TD Helps

4. United States Postal Service

  • How long until expiration: Postal money orders don’t expire.
  • How to check the status of a money order (i.e., whether it’s been cashed): Use the money order inquiry system. You’ll need to enter the money order serial number to look it up.
  • How to request a refund/replacement: Go to the Post Office and fill out and submit a PS Form 6401 Money Order Inquiry. It costs $5.95 to submit. If the Post Office determines the status of your money order, they’ll issue you a replacement. (You can also request a replacement if the money order is damaged, but not lost. You’ll need to visit the Post Office and provide the original money order and receipt.)
  • Source: USPS Money Orders, USPS Additional Services

5. Western Union

  • How long until expiration: Money orders don’t expire, but after one to three years a service fee will apply and be deducted from the value of the money order. Once one to three years have passed, you shouldn’t cash or deposit the money order; it won’t be paid. Instead, you should request a refund. Service fee applicability and conditions are written on the back of the money order.
  • How to check the status of a money order (i.e., whether it’s been cashed): Call (800) 999-9660, Western Union automated money order service line. You’ll need the 11 digit serial number and the exact amount of the money order to complete the inquiry.
  • How to request a refund:
    • If you have the receipt: Complete and sign the money order tracing-refund request on the back of the money order receipt or complete the Money Order Customer Request form. Submit the form to the address listed on the form, by fax to (720) 864-0477, or by email to RMO@westernunion.com. You must include a $15 processing fee.
    • If you don’t have the receipt: Print and complete the Money Order Research Request form, have the form notarized, and submit the form along with any documents proving you’re the purchaser to the address listed on the form, by fax to (720) 864-0477, or by email to RMO@westernunion.com. You must include a $30 processing fee and aren’t guaranteed a refund.
  • Source: Western Union Money Orders, Western Union Customer Care, WU Do money orders expire

If you have an old money order that you bought, but never filled out, one option is to make it out to yourself and then cash it. If the money order hasn’t expired (and some money orders never expire) then you can go cash or deposit the money order just like any other payee. If your money order has expired and is blank, you might need to fill out a refund request.

Where to Cash a Money Order

If you need to cash (or deposit) a money order before it expires, then your best (and most likely to be free) option is to deposit the money order into your own bank account, wait for it to clear as per your bank’s rules, and then withdraw or use the funds as you see fit.

If you don’t have a bank account to deposit your money order into, how you cash it will depend on which issuer your money order is from. Here’s where to cash money orders from each of the three major issuers:

If you have a money order from a minor issuer, like TD Bank or Amscot, you’ll have to visit one of the issuer’s own branches to cash the money order.

Remember, you’ll always need to show an ID when cashing a money order. Most places will require a government-issued, photo ID, and some will also require a second form of ID, which can usually be something less formal, like a credit card that shows your name or a student ID.

For more information about specific places where you can cash all types of money orders, see our article, Where Can I Cash a Money Order? At These 20+ Places.

Where to Buy a Money Order

You can always buy money orders at the U.S. Post Office, and you might be able to by them at your bank or credit union. Many retail stores, like grocers, also sell money orders.

Money orders are usually most expensive at banks. While grocery store prices can vary, they’re often under $1. The Post Office is also affordable and reliable, with fees between $1 and $2 per money order. The highest value you can buy a money order for is $1,000, but at some stores (especially grocery stores) the limits are lower.

To find out all the places that sell money orders and what kind they sell, see our article Where Can I Get a Money Order? At These 47 Places.

In Summary

Do money orders expire? No, money orders don’t expire exactly. If they’re from the Post Office, they never expire at all. Money orders from Western Union and MoneyGram begin incurring service fees and can’t be cashed after a certain period. But, even after that time period, you can still get your money order refunded (less fees). If you know you won’t be cashing a money order for a long time, it’s best to buy it from the post office. It can be slightly more expensive upfront but will be cheaper in the long run. If you know you’ll cash the money order within a year, go with MoneyGram or Western Union. At many retail stores, you can find their money orders for under $1.

Leave a Comment

We respond within 24 hours.

Terms of Use

39 comments

  • 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?

    • Kathleen Wilson says:
      First Quarter Finance logostaff

      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 🙂

  • 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

    • Kathleen Wilson says:
      First Quarter Finance logostaff

      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) says:

    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?

    • Laura Bachmann says:
      First Quarter Finance logostaff

      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 says:

    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.

    • Rebecca Turley says:
      First Quarter Finance logostaff

      Hi Charlene,

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

  • 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.

    • Rebecca Turley says:
      First Quarter Finance logostaff

      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!

  • 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

    • Rebecca Turley says:
      First Quarter Finance logostaff

      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.

  • 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.

    • Sarah Quinn says:
      First Quarter Finance logostaff

      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!

  • 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

    • Sarah Quinn says:
      First Quarter Finance logostaff

      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!

  • 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.

    • Hillary M. Miller says:
      First Quarter Finance logostaff

      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!

  • 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.

    • Hillary M. Miller says:
      First Quarter Finance logostaff

      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!

    • Hillary M. Miller says:
      First Quarter Finance logostaff

      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.

  • 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?

    • Hillary M. Miller says:
      First Quarter Finance logostaff

      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!

  • 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

    • Hillary M. Miller says:
      First Quarter Finance logostaff

      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!

    • Hillary M. Miller says:
      First Quarter Finance logostaff

      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 says:

      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.

      • Laura Bachmann says:
        First Quarter Finance logostaff

        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.

    • Hillary M. Miller says:
      First Quarter Finance logostaff

      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!

  • 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?

    • Hillary M. Miller says:
      First Quarter Finance logostaff

      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 says:

    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

    • Hillary M. Miller says:
      First Quarter Finance logostaff

      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 says:

    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?

    • William Lipovsky says:
      First Quarter Finance logostaff

      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.

    • 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?