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How do international money orders work?

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

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 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
  • Low sending limits – it's a hassle to send more than $10,000 with a money order
  • If you cash it in a foreign currency, you 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
  • May require multiple forms of ID to cash

Is using an international money order my best option?

No, an international money order is rarely 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

Name Product Filter Values Fastest Transfer Speed Fees (Pay by Bank Transfer)
TorFX
24 hours
$0
TorFX sends money overseas in 40+ currencies, with competitive rates for transfer amounts over $2,000.
Xe Large Transfers
24 hours
$0
Xe has fast transfers with low fees and a range of foreign currency tools.
OFX
24 hours
$0
OFX has no maximum limit transfers, with competitive exchange rates for 50+ currencies.
Send Payments
24 hours
$0

Send provides fee-free transfers via its 24/7 multi-currency payments platform with real-time quotes.
Revolut
Within minutes
$0
Send money with great rates and low fees in 30+ currencies.
Xe Money Transfers
Within minutes
$0
Xe has fast transfers with low fees and a range of foreign currency tools.
Instarem
Within minutes
From 0%
50% off first transaction fee from any country in APAC (outside India).
Minimum transfer of $250 and max transfer of $500,000
Wise (TransferWise)
Within minutes
From 0.43%
Wise uses the mid-market rate and transparent fees to help you send money in 50+ currencies.
TorFX
24 hours
$0
TorFX sends money overseas in 40+ currencies, with competitive rates for transfer amounts over $2,000.
Remitly
Within minutes
From $0
Remitly has quick, affordable transfers around the world, with both express and economy options.
WorldRemit
Within minutes
From $0.99
Use promo code 3FREE and pay no fees on your first 3 transfers. Conditions apply.
WorldRemit sends money to 110+ countries for bank-to-bank deposits, cash pick-ups or mobile top-ups.
Rocket Remit
Within minutes
From $0 to $5
Send money instantly to friends and family in over 45 countries using just your mobile number.
MoneyGram
Within minutes
From $1.99
MoneyGram has fast cash pick-up transfers to more than 350,000 agent locations worldwide.
SingX
Within minutes
From 0.5%
SingX offers the real exchange rate every time you make a transfer and can help you send money across the world.
CurrencyFair
Within minutes
€3
CurrencyFair has bank-beating exchange rates and fast transfer times on 15+ popular currencies.
OFX
24 hours
$0
OFX has no maximum limit transfers, with competitive exchange rates for 50+ currencies.
Send Payments
Send Payments
24 hours
$0
Send provides fee-free transfers via its 24/7 multi-currency payments platform with real-time quotes.
MasterRemit
Within minutes
From $0
Get your 1st and 2nd money transfer for free with promo codes FIRSTFREE and MASTERFINDER!.
Send money in minutes at competitive exchange rates to the Middle East, Africa and South Asia.
Western Union
Within minutes
From $0
Western Union sends money online to friends and family in 200+ countries around the world.
Qantas Business Money
Within minutes
$0
Limited time offer: Earn up to 125,000 bonus Qantas Points as a first-time converter. Ends 30 April 2024. Conversion limits and T&Cs apply.
Set up accounts in 11 different currencies and get rewarded for global business payments by earning Qantas Points.
Airwallex
Within minutes
$0
Streamline global payments in 60+ currencies. Send & receive securely in 150+ countries, with fast settlements & competitive rates. Simplify book-keeping & manage everything in one place.
TorFX Business Transfers
24 hours
$0
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.
OFX Business Transfers
24 hours
$0
OFX has no maximum limit transfers, with competitive exchange rates for 45+ currencies.
WorldFirst
24 hours
From $0
Open bank accounts in Australia, the UK, US, Canada, Japan and Europe. Send and receive funds with zero fees for large sums, including same-currency supplier payments.
Send business
24 hours
$0

Send provides fee-free transfers via its 24/7 multi-currency payments platform with real-time quotes.
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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 16 November 2023. In the example below we used Wise (money transfer), Western Union (cash pickup) and Australia Post (money order).

Online money transfer serviceCash transferInternational money order
Fee$10.17$0$5
Exchange rate1 AUD = 0.648 USD1 AUD = 0.639 USD1 AUD = 0.6169 USD
Transfer speed1-2 daysMinutes2-4 days
Amount receivedUS$1,289.81US$1279.57US$1,234
Verdict
  • Best value
  • Fastest
  • Slowest and most expensive

The international money order is the slowest and 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 with Australia Post

An international money order is physically sent to your recipient, so make sure that everything is filled out correctly to avoid 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 purchasing 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 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 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 cashing locations may be restricted depending on where you live. Follow these steps to cash an international money order:

  1. Find a location. Before receiving an international money order sent to you, verify that a local post office 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 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 online, money orders are becoming 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, Western Union limits daily transactions to $5,000. Australia Post offers domestic money orders, you can send up $5,000 with a standard order ($13 AUD) and up to $10,000 with an express order ($25 AUD).

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.

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