In the U.S., money orders are a kind of payment order that is similar to a cashier's check. Money orders can typically be obtained from a few different places, though they are most commonly issued by banks and the United States Postal Service (USPS). Since money orders require funds to be deposited equal to the value of the order, many consider them to be more secure than personal checks. For this reason, a USPS money order is often used in situations where money is changing hands between people who do not know each other, or where an easy verification of funds is otherwise required. In addition to providing a secure payment method, it is also possible to use a money order to send money through the U.S. mail.
USPS money orders may be obtained from any USPS location, or from a rural route carrier. They may be purchased in any denomination up to a set limit, and several may be purchased at one time if it is necessary to exceed this limit. Additionally, if more than three orders of the maximum dollar amount are purchased in a 24-hour period, valid government-issued identification must be presented. After they have been issued, they may then be used as a replacement for legal tender, or negotiated at a financial institution at any time, as USPS money orders do not expire.
The process of sending a money order is similar to that of having one issued for other purposes. There is a small fee associated with generating and sending the money order, which is based on the amount being sent. It is possible to send a USPS money order to anyone in the U.S. via a domestic money order, or to people around the world using an international money order. While international money orders are limited to a smaller dollar amount, they are otherwise similar to domestic money orders.
There are a variety of other features associated with the USPS money order. They can typically be purchased with cash, debit or credit cards, or even travelers checks. They also contain a number of anti-counterfeiting measures, including watermarks and specialized metal fibers. The potential for USPS money order fraud still exists, however. Care must be taken when accepting a money order from an unfamiliar person, and the USPS encourages people to inform them immediately if a person receives a money order they believe to be counterfeit or otherwise fraudulent.