How do international money orders work?

Sending money orders overseas may not be your best option when sending money internationally.

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Similar to a domestic money order, an international money order is used for making payments overseas without relying on digital services. International money orders are not the best way to send money abroad, so consider your other money transfer options before buying and sending one in the mail.

What is an international money order?

A money order is a paper document that is used as a method of payment, similar to a personal cheque. An international money order operates exactly the same way as a domestic money order, by letting you prepay an amount that will be used as a secure form of payment. The main difference is that international money orders are accepted by other countries instead of being limited to Australia.

Pros

  • Safer than mailing cash
  • A bank account typically isn't required
  • Can't bounce – paid for in advance
  • Can be tracked internationally

Cons

  • Fees for both the sender and receiver
  • If you cash it in a foreign currency, you probably won't get a good exchange rate
  • Cancellation and refunds can be expensive and take upwards of 30 days
  • Not globally accepted – double check the country you're sending to
  • Has to be physically delivered before it can be cashed
  • Low sending limits – typically $1,000 or less per money order
  • May require multiple forms of ID to cash

Is using an international money order my best option?

No, an international money order is almost never the cheapest way to send money internationally. Because of the uncertainty involved in sending an international money order, your recipient may end up paying fees and suffering from poor exchange rates when cashing the money order at a bank or local post office.

Compare money transfer services

International money orders are outdated and unnecessarily risky. Consider using a money transfer to benefit from lower fees, stronger exchange rates and faster delivery speeds.

To see what your transfer could cost, enter the country you want to send to and the amount you want to send, then click Calculate.

Min. Transfer Amount Transfer Speed Online Transfer Fee Rate Amount Received Description CTA Details
GBP 0 1 - 2 days AUD 0.00 0.742 USD
7,418
New customers use code AZIMO50 to get GBP 5 off when you transfer GBP 50+. Valid till 31 October 2021. T&Cs apply.
Azimo sends money directly to a bank account or over 280,000 cash pick-up points. It also has fast transfers to 50+ countries.
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AUD 2,000 1 day AUD 0.00 0.744 USD
7,444
TorFX guarantees to match any competitor's exchange rate. Conditions apply.
TorFX sends money overseas in 30+ currencies, with competitive rates for transfer amounts over $2,000.
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AUD 1 Within an hour AUD 0.00 0.744 USD
7,438
New customers get their first transaction for free with code FIRSTFREE. T&Cs apply.
Send money in minutes at competitive exchange rates with this Australian money transfer service.
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AUD 250 1 - 2 days AUD 0.00 0.744 USD
7,441
$0 transfer fees for Finder customers.
OFX has no maximum limit transfers, with competitive exchange rates for 45+ currencies.
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AUD 2,000 1 day AUD 0.00 0.744 USD
7,439
Send guarantees to match any competitor’s exchange rate. T&Cs apply.
Send provides fee-free transfers via its 24/7 multi-currency payments platform with real-time quotes.
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AUD 1 Same day AUD 0.00 0.743 USD
7,433
XE has fast transfers with low fees and a range of foreign currency tools. Go to site Show details
AUD 1 Same day AUD 3.99 0.738 USD
7,378
Use promo code 3FREE to send your first 3 transfers with no fee. Conditions apply.
WorldRemit sends money to 110+ countries for bank-to-bank deposits, cash pick-ups or mobile top-ups.
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AUD 1 1 - 2 days AUD 45.00 0.744 USD
7,406
Wise uses the mid-market rate and transparent fees to help you send money in 50+ currencies. Go to site Show details
AUD 200 1 - 2 days AUD 50.00 0.746 USD
7,424
Exclusive: New customers sending over 500 AUD from Australia use code FINDER50 to get 50 AUD off. Pay zero fees on your first transaction. Valid till 31 December 2021. T&Cs apply.
Instarem offers simple transfers with a flat 0.5% transfer fee for most transfers.
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AUD 1 1 day AUD 52.00 0.743 USD
7,394
Pay no fees on your first two transfers, up to $3,000.
SingX offers the real exchange rate every time you make a transfer and can help you send money across the world.
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AUD 10 Within an hour AUD 2.99 0.739 USD
7,386
Special offers like free transfers and better exchange rates available for new customers.
Remitly has quick, affordable transfers around the world, with both express and economy options.
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AUD 5 1 - 2 days EUR 3.00 0.744 USD
7,439
Special offer: Zero fees on your first 10 transfers.
CurrencyFair has bank-beating exchange rates and fast transfer times on 15+ popular currencies.
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Compare up to 4 providers

Disclaimer: Exchange rates change often. Confirm the total cost with the provider before transferring money.

Let's crunch the numbers: Sending $2,000 to the US

Let's say you need to send $2,000 to family in the US and want to know if sending an international money order is your best choice. Here's what you might face as far as fees, exchange rates and sending speeds are concerned as of 1 April 2020.

Digital money transfer serviceCash transferInternational money order
Fee$3.99$30$24 + additional fees to cash
Exchange rate1 AUD = 0.60 USD1 AUD = 0.58 USD1 AUD = 0.57 USD
Transfer speed1-3 daysMinutes2-4 days
Amount receivedUS$1,198US$1,143US$1,126
Verdict
  • Best value
  • Fastest
  • Slowest and most expensive

The international money order is both the slowest and most expensive option. There may be additional fees charged when cashing the international money order, and the exchange rate featured in our table is based on bank rates – the exchange rate offered when cashing the money order may be weaker.

A cash transfer service could almost always have the money there faster and available for cash pick-up at hundreds of locations, while a digital service could deliver the money directly to your recipient's bank account if desired.

How to fill out an international money order

Because an international money order is physically sent to your recipient, make sure that everything is filled out correctly to avoid any delays. Because your recipient may have to pay fees to cash the money order, consider sending more than needed to help cover fees and exchange rates.

Steps to fill out your international money order

  1. Check availability. International money orders will not be accepted everywhere. Before you purchase one, make sure your recipient will be able to cash it at a local bank or post office.
  2. Fill in the recipient's name. Because your recipient may need to show ID when cashing the money order, write their name exactly as it shows on their ID to avoid any complications. Some international money orders, like those from OFX , require you to fill in the recipient's address in addition to their name.
  3. Use the memo section. If you're paying an international bill, include the account number and purpose of payment under the memo section. If you're sending money to family, consider putting your name and address in the memo section and label yourself as the purchaser.
  4. Sign the money order. International money orders without a signature may be rejected.

After filling out the money order you'll want to:

  • Keep your receipt.
  • Ask about expected delivery dates.
  • Have OFX or the transfer agent verify you've filled it out correctly.

How do I cash an international money order?

Money orders can be cashed in the same way as a cheque, but international money order cashing locations may be restricted depending on where you live. Follow these steps to cash an international money order:

  1. Find a location. Before you have an international money order sent to you, verify that a local bank, post office or convenience store will be able to cash it.
  2. Endorse the money order. You must sign the back of the money order before it can be cashed, but wait to sign it until you're about to hand it over to the cashier.
  3. Provide identification. Your ID will need to match the name on the international money order and be government-issued, such as a passport, driver's licence or military card.
  4. Pay associated fees. Unfortunately, you may have to pay fees and agree to poor exchange rates to cash your international money order. You may be able to have these charges deducted from the money order total. Ask the cashier if this is an option.
  5. Count your cash. Verify that the amount of money you received is correct before you leave the counter. Any missing money is not the responsibility of the cashier if you notice the mistake after finalising the transaction.

Bottom line

As sending money shifts to online, money orders will become less common. There are many ways to send money internationally that can be done entirely online from the comfort of your home. To learn how to get started with these types of transfers, head over to our guide on transferring money and send your first transfer today.

Frequently asked questions

Do international money orders have a maximum limit?

Sometimes, depending on the provider. For example, WorldRemit limits daily transactions to $50,000.

Can you track an international money order?

Yes. Use your receipt to track your order by calling the company you sent it through or visiting the location from which you sent the money order.

Can you cancel an international money order?

It depends. If the money order has been cashed you may not be able to cancel it. If it is still in transit you may be able to call the company that issued the money order and cancel it for a refund, but chances are low.

My international money order was stolen. Now what?

A lost or stolen money order can be replaced, but you'll often face a fee to do so. You'll need to report the stolen money order to the company that issued it, provide details found on your receipt and then typically wait anywhere between 30 and 60 days for a resolution.

I received an international money order from a stranger. Should I cash it?

No. Never cash an international money order that you weren't expecting; it is a scam. To learn more about what to do in this situation, visit our money transfer scams page to learn more.

More guides on Finder

International Money Transfer Offers

Important Information*
Logo for Azimo International Money Transfers
Azimo International Money Transfers

New customers use code AZIMO50 to get GBP 5 off when you transfer GBP 50+. Valid till 31 October 2021. T&Cs apply.
Azimo sends money directly to a bank account or over 280,000 cash pick-up points. It also has fast transfers to 50+ countries.

Logo for TorFX International Money Transfers
TorFX International Money Transfers

TorFX guarantees to match any competitor's exchange rate. Conditions apply.
TorFX sends money overseas in 30+ currencies, with competitive rates for transfer amounts over $2,000.

Logo for MasterRemit International Money Transfers
MasterRemit International Money Transfers

New customers get their first transaction for free with code FIRSTFREE. T&Cs apply.
Send money in minutes at competitive exchange rates with this Australian money transfer service.

Logo for OFX (Ozforex) International Money Transfers
OFX (Ozforex) International Money Transfers

$0 transfer fees for Finder customers.
OFX has no maximum limit transfers, with competitive exchange rates for 45+ currencies.

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