A money order or cashier’s check are quick and easy ways to send money to a friend, family member or company. They both help make sure that your funds arrive on time and safely. Plus, they’re less risky than sending money in the mail.
But a money order is different to a cashier check. Our guide explains what makes them unique and when they should be used, to help you decide whether a money order or cashier’s check is best when sending your money.
The differences between money orders and cashier checks
There are quite a few things that separate money orders from a cashier’s checks. These include:
- Where you can get them from
- The forms of ID you will need to buy them
- How much they cost to buy
- Limits on how much you can send
- How quickly the money is available
Here’s a breakdown of both types to make choosing the right option easier:
Cashier’s check definition
A cashier’s check is a type of check that’s only issued by a:
- Credit union
This means that you’ll need a bank account to buy one.
When you order a cashier’s check, the bank will take the amount of money you want to send out of your bank account. They’ll then move these funds into their own account and pay the person you’re sending to, using their own money.
This helps guarantee that the money will arrive, and the check won’t bounce. Plus, the bank signs the check, not you.
You can send up to $5,000 on average with a cashier’s check. However, they cost around $10 to make (every bank or union will have different fees), which makes them a more expensive way to send money. 
Money order definition
A money order is different. It’s a pre-paid piece of paper, which you can buy using:
- Debit card
- Traveler’s check
They’re more widely available from a variety of locations, including:
- Grocery stores
- Post offices
- Money Services, located within the Kroger Family of Stores
You don’t need a bank account to send a money order. All you need to do is go to a place that sells them, fill out the money order form and pay the funds to the cashier. It can then be sent, and the recipient can collect it almost immediately.
Your payment is secure because your personal details won’t be on the money order. Plus, if you’re buying from a seller, they may prefer this type of payment, as it’s guaranteed by the money provider that you bought the money order from.
Limits are often lower than cashier’s checks, at around $1,000 (limits will vary from retailer to retailer). However, they are a cheaper way of sending money, with fees ranging from $1 to $5. 
Protect yourself from money order and cashier check fraud
As with any type of exchange, you could be at risk of fraud with a cashier’s check or money transfer. But there are ways to protect yourself.
Here are a few simple rules to remember: 
- Make sure the person you are sending to is legitimate – never send money to or accept funds from a person or company that you don’t know. If you get a money order from someone, check with the money order issuer to verify the funds are real.
- Look out for fraudulent emails or messages – if you get a message or email that asks you to send money, do not respond. Look out for telltale signs that it‘s fraudulent, including spelling mistakes and refusals to pay electronically.
- Never accept a check that is over the amount you wanted – when you are selling something online and the buyer sends more money than your asking price, they may ask you to send this back using a cashier’s check. Do not. The funds that they have sent may not be verified and you could lose money by sending some back.
When to use a money order
There are many times when using a money order is be the best way to pay.
Money orders are quick
You can send funds quicker with a money order than a regular personal check. Checks normally take a couple of days to clear, meaning that the person you are paying may not get their money fast.
A money order lets someone access the money almost immediately. This is ideal if you need to pay someone quickly.
They guarantee your money will arrive
They’re a super safe way to pay too. You can’t buy a money order without paying the cashier first, using cash, a debit card or traveler’s check. This means that the person you are sending to is guaranteed to get the funds.
You don’t need a bank account
It’s also best to use a money order if you don’t have a bank account. This way, you can still send money, without needing to send cash in the mail. All you need is:
- The money to cover your payment
- A pen to complete the form
- ID, such as a driver’s license
When to use a cashier check
Sometimes, cashier’s checks are a good way to send funds securely.
Good for bigger purchases
As there are higher limits on how much you can send with a cashier’s check, you can use them to buy more expensive things, like a deposit on a car or home. They’re certainly safer than carrying around a large amount of money in cash. 
Lets you make certified payments
Some people or companies will only accept certified payments when you send money to buy something. This is especially true if you’re making a larger purchase. Because a bank will pay the recipient from their own accounts, the payment is certified. 
Ideal if you have a bank account
If you currently have a bank account, then a cashier’s check is a convenient way to make a safe payment. You simply need to go into your bank or credit union and ask for a cashier’s check. You will need to have some ID too. Then, fill in a form, along with the money to cover the fee to send. 
In short, cashier checks are useful if you need to send larger amounts of money. However, you will need a bank account to do this. Money orders are much more accessible, don’t require a bank account and the fees cost significantly less.
Find your local store to buy your money order or cashier’s check today.