When you pay with a money order, it’s not easy to tell if it’s been cashed (not to mention received). With a check, you can simply log in to your account and see what happened, but money order issuers require a few extra steps (and a few extra bucks) to track your payment.
In most cases, you’ll submit a form along with a small payment. After about 30 days, the issuer will either send a copy of the endorsed money order (showing who cashed or deposited it, and when), or a notice that the money order has not been cashed.
If the money order is still outstanding, you should have the option to cancel it and get a refund.
The exact process varies from issuer to issuer.
Before you Start
Tracking a money order is time consuming and expensive. The USPS is most affordable at $6.10, but other issuers charge $15 or more to research your payment. You also have to fill out forms – sometimes in-person – and you might not get an answer (much less a refund) for 30 days or more.
If possible, start by communicating with whoever you sent payment to. Sometimes people and businesses don’t process orders immediately, and they take even longer to deposit payments they’ve received. Getting information directly from your payee might be easiest.
Money order issuers suggest waiting at least two weeks after you send a payment before giving up ad cancelling a money order. Most letters get to their destination within a few days, but for some reason payments seem to move slower.
Especially with holidays and weekends, that process can take even longer.
Tracking USPS Money Orders
If you used a USPS money order, you’ll need to visit a post office and fill out PS Form 6401 - Money Order Inquiry. To complete that form, you’ll need the receipt from your original purchase showing the money order number, amount, and information about the post office you purchased from.
Currently the USPS charges $6.10 for researching your money order. The process takes at least 30 days, and (if the money order has been cashed or deposited) you’ll get a copy of the front and back of the document. With that information, you can find out where the money eventually went.
If you can’t wait that long, there are reports of unofficial “workarounds” that might help you find out whether or not the money order was cashed or deposited. For example, you can try the post office inquiry line or use the Money Order Inquiry System, and see if the item “does not match.” However, the information you get might not be reliable (because the system was not designed to do what you’re trying to do). The only way to know for sure is to use Form 6401.