International money orders are a paper-based, pre-paid certificate that work a bit like a cheque for international money transfers. The sender makes payment and the international money order is posted to the receiver who exchanges the certificate for cash when they receive it. In this article, learn about where to get international money orders, money order companies that are still around today and if it’s possible to make international money orders online.
Where to Get International Money Orders
With the rise of electronic wire transfers, international money orders have decreased in popularity (read here how international wire works). Remember, even if you’re not computer savvy or simply don’t like handling these types of things online, you can arrange to make international payments over the telephone with virtually all major currency brokers.
Now a rather out-dated transfer method, international money orders are still most widely used in the US. It remains a fairly popular choice for migrants to remit money home from the US to latin America. They are a good way for individuals who do not have a bank account to make an international payment.
International money orders are processed by the US Postal Service (USPS). You can make an international money order by visiting any US postal service branch or by visiting an approved third-party provider. These include credit unions, local banks and even a Western Union or Moneygram branch.
Countries Accepting International Money Orders
Before making an international money order, you need to be sure it is an accepted payment channel in the country you are wishing to send money to. Full information is available on the USPS website but a list of countries accepting international money orders can be seen below.
Countries Accepting the International Postal Money Order Form (MP1)
Antigua and Barbuda
British Virgin Islands
El Salvador ($500)
Saint Kitts and Nevis
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
Trinidad and Tobago
As can be seen from the list of selected countries, international money orders are most commonly received by latin american and carribean countries. In a lot of cases, though not all, USD is a widely accepted currency in the countries accepting international money orders from the US. The payment may not even require currency conversion to reach the recipient.
Can You Make an International Money Order Online?
In the US it is not possible to order an International postal money order form online and then complete this yourself from the comfort of your home. The idea is for the sender to fill out the money order at the counter with a retail associate and then make the payment there and then with either cash or a debit card. At USPS branches you cannot pay with a credit card, though this may differ with approved third-party vendors.
Websites offering online money orders are generally based outside of the US and should be treated with caution.
You may find results for money transfer firms appearing in popular search engines. Many of these companies advertise online money orders, but actually offer money transfers. Whilst this is not the same thing it does achieve the same outcome and the whole process can be completed online. Just be sure to pick a reliable and trusted currency broker or remittances company which enjoys good reviews and a solid reputation. OFX, a Sydney-stock exchange listed payment firm, has a strong presence throughout the US and has been moving money across borders for 25 years.
International Money Orders – Key Features
- International money orders can be purchased at any USPS branch or approved third-party vendors.
- Orders can be for any value up to $700 ($500 for El Salvador and Guyana).
- Pay with cash, a debit card, or a traveler’s cheque. You cannot pay with a credit card.
- The issuing fee is $10.50. The processing fee and exchange rate will depend on the destination country but will be confirmed upon placing the money order. That is a very expensive method compared to the services offered by companies such as Azimo, Instarem, Orbit Remit, FlashFX and other remittance specialists with online money transfer systems.
International Wires vs International Money Orders: Safety
Many people claim the added value that international money orders have over international wires is safety but it is certainly not the case. International money orders have been used by scammers to illicitly extract money out of immigrants for many years now while international wires are far more traceable and if a scam is involved then it is easier to identify the culprit. Read our guide about is a bank transfer safe to learn more.
Final Word – Are International Money Orders Still Worth It?
International money orders are mainly used when sending money from the US to latin america and the carribean. They can prove a good option if either you as the sender or the individual receiving the international money order does not have a bank account. If you’re used to making payments this way and have a local USPS branch near you then you’ll know it can be a relatively hassle-free experience. But if you’re looking to pay someone outside of the 26 countries in which international money orders are accepted, or for an amount greater than $700, you should consider an international wire. Wires can be made totally online or, if you choose the right provider, by arranging the payment with a dedicated dealer over the telephone. They should prove cheaper than international money orders too.