Money Order Vs. Cashier Check: What’s the Difference?

by Manage Money

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Money order vs. cashier check, which is the better option?  

Simply put, money orders are cheaper and easier to access, while a cashier’s check is the safer option, particularly for those paying in larger amounts. Keep reading to see which is the best option for your particular circumstances.  

What is a Money Order?  

A money order is a paper form of payment, similar to a personal check, but they are guaranteed forms of payment, meaning they can’t bounce. To pay for a money order, you can use cash, a debit card, or traveler’s checks. Generally, agencies won’t allow you to use a personal check or a credit card to purchase money orders since those are not guaranteed payments. 

The appeal of a money order is the ease of access. Since you can pay for the money order in cash, you don’t need to have a checking account to obtain a money order. You can usually get money orders from places like your local grocery store, post office, and check cashing stores. 

Money orders are also cheap. They only cost a few dollars and can generally make purchases up to $1,000. They’re also flexible since the payee’s name is filled in by the purchaser. 

Money orders are often used to pay smaller payments when guaranteed funds are required or when privacy is a concern since a money order doesn’t show your bank account number or other personal information like a personal check does. 

What is a Cashier’s Check?  

A cashier’s check is like a money order, but issued by a bank instead of a private agency. The money is pulled directly from the individual’s own bank account just like a personal check, but since you obtain the check from the bank or credit union, they directly remove that much from your personal account to “put into” the certified check so the money is guaranteed. The payment is backed by the bank or credit union directly. 

The financial institution also fills out the “pay to” section on a cashier check, making it less susceptible to fraudulent cashing. Cashier’s checks do not typically have any maximum amount.  

If your payment is over $1,000 and you would like a bit more security on the payment, a cashier’s check is likely the best option. You will need to have a checking account and it will cost a little extra, but the peace of mind for both purchaser and recipient can be worth it.  

When to Use a Money Order or a Cashier’s Check 

There are appeals to each option depending on circumstances – it depends on what you’re going for. The table below should help you get an idea of which is best for you: 

When to Use a Money Order:When to Use a Cashier’s Check:
Your payment is $1,000 or lessYour payment is over $1,000
You do not have access to a bank accountYou have a bank account
You need a convenient purchasing locationYou can access a bank during office hours
You want to spend less than $5 on the paymentYou are willing to spend about $10 on the payment
You do not want to include your account information on the paymentYou want a more secure payment from a trustworthy bank or credit union

Protecting Yourself Against Fraud 

The safest between the two forms of payment is a cashier check since the bank does the work to ensure the money gets where it is supposed to go. However, if you do decide to go with a money order, taking the time to fill it in immediately is a good way to protect against the chance of a blank money order being lost or stolen and cashed by anyone who puts their name down.  

With either option, always be sure to purchase from reputable vendors. Keep your receipts for certified checks and money orders so that if you need to stop the funds for any reason (theft, lost check, etc.) you can contact the issuer with proof of purchase and follow their instructions for cancelling the payment.  

Additionally, be careful when you are on the receiving end of a money order. While these documents are secure payments, they can be forged, and you can be left with a fake check if you’re not careful.  

Related Questions: 

Which is Better? A Cashier’s Check or Money Order? 

If by “better” you mean cheap and easy, the answer is money orders. However, if by “better” you mean vetted and secure for larger purchases, the answer is cashier’s checks.  

Are Cashier’s Checks and Money Orders Safer than Checks? 

A cashier’s check will be safer to use than a money order. Since the name of the payee is filled out by the financial institution (bank or credit union), there is less margin for error and less room for thievery.  

Money orders are also safer than a personal check, but since the money order is filled out by the purchaser, it is a bit less secure than a cashier’s check. Money orders are more private since the purchaser’s account number is not printed on it.   

How Much Do Cashier’s Checks Cost? 

Cashier’s checks usually cost about $10, though the price ranges depending on location. 

What Costs Less: A Cashier’s Check or Money Order? 

A money order can be as little as under $1 and go up to as much as $5. Cashier’s checks will generally be a bit more and average about $10 to purchase but have higher limits for the amount of the check (if they have a limit at all).  

Prices for both will vary by location, but money orders are usually cheaper.  

Which is Easier to Buy? 

Money orders are the more accessible of the two methods of payment.  

A cashier’s check needs to be purchased from your bank or credit union, which means going to your local bank branch during office hours and taking the time to fill out the paperwork.  

Money orders can be purchased from a wide variety of convenient locations that you probably already frequent in your regular errands and don’t require the use of a bank account. 

Is a Money Order the Same as a Certified Check? 

A certified check is neither a money order nor a cashier’s check, but something of a halfway point between the two. All three are a kind of official check verified by a third party that you have enough money to make the payment.  

A certified check, like a cashier’s check, is obtained from a bank and requires a bank account to use. The funds come out of your account just like with a cashier’s check, but a certified check is filled out by the purchaser, not by the bank. Cashier’s checks are drawn on the bank’s account while certified checks are drawn on the check writer’s account. 

Where Can I Get a Money Order? 

Money orders can be purchased at a variety of convenient locations. Many grocery stores, convenience stores, larger retail chains, and U.S. Post Offices have them readily available. To see a list of places near you, search for “money orders near me.” 

Where Can I Get a Cashier’s Check Without a Bank Account? 

Most banks and credit unions will require you to have an account to purchase a cashier’s check. There have been some exceptions made, but in those cases, they still require the purchaser to come with cash in hand. Check the policy of your local bank or speak with a bank representative.  

Wrapping Things Up 

Both cashier’s checks and money orders can be the “right” choice, depending on the circumstances. The main differences between the two are the max amount, the ease of access, and the level of security.  

Money orders are faster, cheaper, and easier, but a little less secure. Cashier’s checks cost a little more and are a bit less convenient, but they provide security for large payments.  

The rule of thumb is that money orders are preferable for smaller payments and cashier’s checks better for bigger ones. Ultimately, your circumstances determine which is the best choice for you.  

Alexander Newby

Alexander Newby

Alexander is a fully licensed financial advisor. His entrepreneurial spirit and a passion for the wealthy life have freed him to live a life he loves living. Though he faced plenty of obstacles along the way, he overcame. Through his struggles, Alex learned what it truly means to pursue the Wealthy Life in all the ways that matter most. He's been in pursuit ever since.

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