What is a money order?

Roberto Efflandrin

If you want to pay a bill or buy something online or at a private sale, you can use a money order. This payment method can also be used to send money to friends and family in Australia, or even across the world.

But what is a money order exactly, and how do you set one up? Crucially, how much do money orders cost? This guide gives you the lowdown on both domestic and international money orders, as well as alternative payment methods which could potentially save you money.

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What is a money order?

In a nutshell, a money order is an instruction for a bank-to-bank transfer for a specific amount of money. Think of it like a certified cheque, but more trusted and secure as it’s pre-paid (bought beforehand, so it can’t bounce).¹ The recipient can pick up the money order at banks or have it sent directly into their bank account, or in cash at a local Australia Post office.²

Unlike other kinds of transactions, money orders in Australia are issued by Australia Post rather than banks or other financial institutions.

You can make both domestic and international money transfers at the post office, sending cash within Australia or all over the world. Though, technically, sending money overseas with the Australian post is done in collaboration with their partner Western Union and not through a money order.²

Domestic money orders

If you’d like to pay for something or send money to someone within Australia, you can use a domestic money order. There are a few options to choose from, such as standard, express and bulk money orders.²

  • Standard Money Order – for amounts up to $5,000 AUD. Head into your local participating Post Office to pick up and pay for your money order, then you can give or post it to your recipient right away.

  • Express Money Order – for amounts up to $10,000 AUD, transferred to any participating Post Office in Australia within the hour. You’ll still need to visit a Post Office branch in person to arrange the money order, but Australia Post will take care of delivery.

  • Bulk Money Orders – a suitable option for businesses wanting to send multiple refunds or other payments to customers or suppliers. The maximum value of each payment must be under $1,000 and bulk money orders are best arranged by phone or email.

How to send a domestic money order with Australia Post

To send a money order²:

  • You’ll need to visit your local Australia post office and request the service
  • Make sure to have a valid photo identification in the form of a passport, driving licence, government-issued ID or credit card
  • Then, all you need to do is provide the name of the recipient and the amount to be sent.
  • Notify the recipient of where the order will be delivered to.

The money order and receipt will be printed out while you wait.

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How to redeem a domestic money order with Australia Post

The lucky recipient of your money order will have a few options for collecting their cash.²

  • They can cash in the money order over the counter at their local Post Office, or
  • Have it deposited directly into their bank account – either at their own bank or a Post Office offering the Bank@Post deposit service.

The recipient will also need to show some ID to cash in or deposit their money.

International “money order” (or rather, transfer)

Want to send money to someone in another country? Australia Post also offers an international money transfer service, provided by Western Union.³

You can still do it all from your local Post Office branch though, simply head to the counter with a valid photo ID and your Australian mobile number. Provide the details of the transfer (i.e. the recipient, amount and destination) and you’ll be given a quote which includes upfront fees and exchange rate details.

You can also choose how the recipient will collect their money. These include:

  • Cash pickup at a Western Union agent – available within minutes
  • Direct bank transfer – available within 1 hour to 2 business days depending on where the money is being sent from and to
  • Mobile wallet – available within 1 hour to 2 business days.

Alternatively, you can arrange international money transfers online through Western Union.

While this is the most convenient option for many people, remember that it isn’t the only service offering online international money transfers. It’s always worth comparing costs across providers, and keeping a lookout for hidden fees and poor exchange rates.

Western Union usually adds a mark-up on top of its exchange rates, which can make your transfer more expensive. The small print from Western Union says:

Western Union also makes money from currency exchange. When choosing a money transmitter, carefully compare both transfer fees and exchange rates. Fee and foreign exchange rates may vary by brand, channel, and location based on a number of factors. Fees and rates subject to change without notice. Subject to applicable taxes, if any.

The rates provided to you do make a difference in the amount your recipient will receive. Make sure to keep an eye on it.

Alternatively, send money overseas with Wise and you’ll always get the mid-market exchange rate, just like the one you see on Google, along with small transfer fees shown upfront. This could save you a bundle.

Use our pricing calculator below to have an idea of how much you get to save sending money abroad with Wise.

Please see Terms of Use for your region or visit Wise Fees & Pricing for the most up-to-date pricing and fee information.

Money order fees with Australia Post

Now it’s time to look at the important stuff – how much your money order will cost. Here’s your at-a-glance guide to the costs when you use Australia Post to send money. However, you’ll need to get individual quotes for some services such as bulk and international money orders.²

Type of money orderFee
Standard$13 AUD
Express$25 AUD
BulkPOA
International (via Western Union)POA (including upfront fees and exchange rate)

Wrapping up

Now that money transfer has gone digital, money orders aren’t as widely used as they once were. However, if you need a secure and quick alternative to sending a cheque (and there’s a handy Post Office in your neighbourhood) it could still be a good choice, especially for domestic transfers.

Remember that when it comes to sending money internationally, you have plenty of alternative options.

Send money with Wise and you get the mid-market exchange rate, which means no expensive mark-up on your currency conversions. Fees are clear, shown upfront and secure.

Safety is super important at Wise and it’s regulated wherever it operates. In Australia, it is regulated by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) and holds an Australian Financial Services Licence (AFSL number 513764).

It’s super easy to arrange a payment with Wise. Once your account is approved, you can set one up in minutes, without the need to visit a physical branch in person.

Join over 13 million customers currently enjoying Wise. It’ll only take a few minutes to register and see what’s inside.

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Please see Terms of Use for your region or visit Wise Fees & Pricing for the most up-to-date pricing and fee information.

Sources:
  1. Yahoo Finance money order
  2. Australia Post money order
  3. Australia Post Western Union transfers
  4. Please see Terms of Use for your region or visit Wise Fees & Pricing for the most up to date pricing and fee information.

Sources checked on 20-Dec-2022


Please see terms of use and product availability for your region or visit Wise fees and pricing for the most up to date pricing and fee information.

This publication is provided for general information purposes and does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from Wise Payments Limited or its subsidiaries and its affiliates, and it is not intended as a substitute for obtaining advice from a financial advisor or any other professional.

We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether expressed or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.

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