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Can you buy a money order with your credit card?

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Money orders are a good alternative to cash or personal checks. Some situations, like paying rent or buying a car privately, require them.

While you can technically buy a money order with a credit card, it’s not a good idea. You’ll need to do a cash advance to purchase the money order, rather than swiping the card to pay like you would at the grocery store. This is because banks and stores that sell money orders do not accept credit cards as a form of payment. Businesses generally require cash for money orders, though some do accept debit cards.

Money orders are like a check but are bought from a third-party business. They can be cashed or deposited into a bank account. Benefits of money orders include:

  • Guaranteed funds: When you get a money order, you pay the face value of the money order (plus fees) which guarantees the funds for the recipient.
  • No bank account required: Banks and credit unions may only issue money orders for customers, but they aren’t your only option. You can get money orders from other types of businesses, including Walmart, Western Union and convenience stores.
  • Personal information is protected: Unlike a personal check, the only personal information listed on a money order is your name and the recipient’s name.
  • Can use foreign currency: Money orders can be sent internationally, so it’s possible to use Euros to send a money order in U.S. dollars by doing a currency exchange. Note that not all places that offer money orders may allow this.
  • Can be replaced if lost or stolen: Your receipt contains the information needed if your money order is lost or stolen. A processing fee may be assessed when a money order is reissued.

How does a money order work?

A money order essentially works like a check. It’s a piece of paper that has both the sender and recipient’s name. The recipient can take it to their bank or a place that cashes money orders to receive the funds.

What are the requirements for a money order?

To get a money order, you will need:

  • Enough money for the face value of the money order, plus fees. The exact fee you’ll pay varies. The United States Postal Service may offer the lowest fee, starting at $2.10 for a money order up to $500.
  • The recipient’s name, address and phone number
  • Your government-issued I.D. Not all places require this, but you should bring it just in case.

You’ll need to fill out the money order with both your and the recipient’s name and address. Once you’ve paid for your money order, you can either mail it or give directly to the recipient. You should keep the receipt in case the money order is lost or stolen.

Where can you buy a money order?

The following list of businesses may offer money orders, depending on the location. Smaller branches of the USPS may not offer them. Not all banks and credit unions offer money orders. They may suggest you get a cashier’s check or refer you to the USPS if they don’t.

Business
Forms of payments accepted
United States Post OfficeCash, debit card, travelers checks
7-Eleven convenience storeCash or debit card
Check cashing stores Cash
Western UnionCredit card (processed as cash advance), debit card, bank account 
MoneyGramCredit card (processed as cash advance), debit card or bank account
Your bank or credit unionCall your bank to verify 
WalmartCash or debit card

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Tip

Before going to buy a money order, call ahead to confirm that the business offers money orders, the associated fees and which forms of payment they accept.

No, you shouldn’t buy a money order with your credit card if you can help it. Funding your money order with plastic is not ideal. Here’s why:

  • You’ll pay a cash advance fee: Fees for cash advances generally range from 3% to 5% of the total amount. So with a cash advance of $1,000, the fee would be between $30 and $50.
  • You don’t receive a grace period: Cash advances don’t come with a grace period so you’ll be on the hook for interest from day one.
  • You’ll pay the cash advance APR, which is typically higher than the regular APR: Some credit cards have a different — higher — interest rate for cash advances. You can find your credit card’s rate and fees when you log in to your account online.
  • Your credit utilization ratio increases: A cash advance may hurt your credit score if it causes your credit utilization ratio to exceed 30% of your available credit. It could cause your credit score to drop a bit until the balances on your credit cards drop below 30% of your total credit limit.
  • Cash advances don’t earn rewards or qualify for a sign-up bonus: Unlike credit card purchases made for goods and services, a cash advance isn’t eligible for rewards. Nor does the amount count towards the spending requirement for a sign-up bonus.

If you have access to cash, you should make a withdrawal from your bank to purchase the money order. Using your credit card to make a cash advance could cost a lot of money. However, you may want to use your credit card because you don’t have cash available.

No matter your situation, consider these alternatives before requesting a cash advance:

Make other payments with a credit card. If you can, shift around your spending and use your credit card to buy gas, groceries and other items to free up cash for the money order. This will help you avoid the fees and higher interest rates that come with making cash advances.

Pay via an app like PayPal, Venmo or Zelle. Ask if you can use a payment app rather than using a money order. Before using these services, check to see that you have sufficient funds in your bank account to avoid overdraft fees.

Use a payday or cash advance app. Rather than doing a cash advance with your credit card, consider a paycheck advance app that allows you early access to your paycheck to fund your money order. Apps like Earnin, Chime, Brigit, Dave and MoneyLion offer early access to funds at potentially less cost than a credit card cash advance.

Take out a personal loan. A personal loan may give you access to more funds than a payday app. You receive the funds as a lump sum, then repay it in monthly installments. Depending on your credit score, you may find that a personal loan offers a much lower interest rate than a credit card.

You can buy a money order with a debit card at some businesses. Call ahead to ensure the business accepts debit cards. If they don’t, consider another location or use an alternate payment method.

Some businesses that sell money orders accept cash, while others do not. It’s best to call ahead to find out what payment methods they accept.

You cannot buy the traditional paper money order online, including Western Union and the USPS. Money orders must be purchased in person.