How to Pay for a Money Order: Do You Need Cash? Answered

Man removing cash from wallet to pay for a money order

Every money order issuer will allow you to pay for a money order with cash, and some will allow you to buy one using a debit card or a prepaid Visa or Mastercard with a PIN; acceptance of debit and prepaid cards varies by location.

Below, we explain the payment policy of each major issuer.

MoneyGram and Western Union

We reached out to MoneyGram and Western Union agent locations in Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Massachusetts, Michigan, Kansas, Oregon, and Wyoming; most of the locations we contacted only accept cash as payment for money orders. However, a few told us that they will also accept debit cards.

We found the following payment options:

  • Advance America (MoneyGram): Cash; you may also be able to pay with a check
  • Check Into Cash (Western Union): Cash only
  • CVS (MoneyGram): Cash only
  • Dixie Court Food Mart (MoneyGram): Cash only
  • Fred Meyer (Western Union): Cash or debit card
  • Fry’s Food Stores (Western Union): Cash only; see more details about Fry’s Food Stores money orders
  • Harveys Supermarkets (Western Union): Cash only
  • Kroger (Western Union): Cash or debit card
  • Piggly Wiggly (Western Union): Cash only
  • Quick Food Mart (Western Union): Cash only
  • Walmart (MoneyGram): Cash or debit card; see more about buying money orders at Walmart

Our previous research also lists the places you can buy a money order, including how to pay.

Variation by Agent Location

While most third-party sellers of money orders sell either MoneyGram or Western Union money orders, they don’t all accept the same forms of payment, even if they’re selling the same type of money order.

Accepted payment methods vary by independent location, not issuer.

For instance, CVS sells MoneyGram money orders, and the stores we contacted only accept cash. However, Walmart — which also sells MoneyGram money orders — will allow you to buy them using cash or debit cards.

It’s best to contact your intended location to make sure you know its accepted payment methods before buying a money order.


The United States Postal Service (USPS) explicitly states on its website that it will accept cash, traveler’s checks, and debit cards as payment methods for money orders.

You can sometimes run a prepaid card as debit when buying a postal money order.

Banks and Credit Unions

Many banks and credit unions sell their own money orders (not MoneyGram or Western Union), and most will allow you to pay for a money order with cash or a debit card, even if you don’t have an account at the bank or credit union.

If you are an account holder, the bank or credit union may also withdraw the payment directly from your account.

Ineligible Payment Methods for Money Orders

Most places will not accept personal checks for money orders, and you generally cannot use electronic payment methods like PayPal to buy a money order (as previously reported).

While credit card companies will technically allow you to purchase a money order with your credit card, none of the places we contacted accept credit cards as payment for money orders.

It is important to note that if you are able to do this, your credit card company will likely treat the money order as a cash advance since money orders are considered cash equivalents. You may incur fees and steep interest rates on this type of transaction.

More Information

For more details, check out our research about whether money orders expire.

We also answer more questions about how money orders work in our money order FAQ.

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