Banks treat money orders as cash equivalents because, under federal banking laws, money orders are next-day availability items and not subject to deposit holds. When you buy a money order, you must buy it with cash or electronic funds, but you typically cannot get a refund if you decide not to use it. However, while few banks and vendors offer actual refunds, you can still get your money back by negotiating the money order at your bank.
Write your name on the payee line of the money order if you have not yet completed that line. Turn the money order over and sign your name on the first endorsement line. If you already made the money order payable to someone else, then on the endorsement line you must write "Not used for purpose intended," followed by your signature.
Take the money order to your bank. Complete a deposit slip. Write the amount of the money order on the front side of the deposit slip under the "checks" section and write the same figure under the "total deposit" section.
Hand your money order and the deposit slip to the teller. Show the teller a form of government-issued identification, such as a driver's license or passport to prove that you bought the money order. Take your receipt. You should have access to the money on the following business day.
- If you buy a money order and fail to negotiate it for several years, due to state abandoned property laws, your bank must surrender the funds to the state, and the money is kept on hand to cover the outstanding money order. When this happens, you can no longer negotiate the money order at a bank. You must instead contact your state's abandoned property administrator and submit a claim form to get your money back. It can take several weeks to get your refund, and you must provide the state with supporting documentation, such as the purchase receipt as well as the actual money order. Your bank must attempt to contact you prior to surrendering the money to the state.
- Some institutions may allow you to get a refund for an unused money order, but you normally have to pay a fee in order to have a stop payment placed on the refund, meaning you do not actually get all of your money back. You also pay a research fee if you lose your money order, as money order issuers charge a fee to trace the item to ensure no one has already negotiated it. You cannot get refunds for United States Postal Service money orders, but you can request a replacement if your original money order becomes lost or damaged.