MoneyGram international money order — step by step guide


The days when sending money abroad meant filling out an old-fashioned postal money order have pretty much gone. These days, there are plenty of other ways to get funds to someone in another country. One of the most popular options is MoneyGram, which offers a variety of ways to send money fast.

Read on and you’ll find out:

  • The similarities and differences between MoneyGram and a postal money order
  • How to make a MoneyGram international money order
  • How much it’ll cost you to send one
  • How to track a MoneyGram money order

Is MoneyGram the same as a money order?

You may have used traditional postal money orders in the past. MoneyGram works in a similar way, but there are a few differences. Most of these are good, but there’s one possible exception: the cost may be higher.

  • If you want, you can do everything online from your chosen device — no need to find a post office or an agent who can handle the order in person.¹

  • You can use MoneyGram to pay straight into a bank account at any of 400 banks worldwide.²

  • It’s quick. If you’re sending for cash pickup, it can be ready in just a few minutes. If you’re sending to a bank account, it’s usually available the next day and sometimes inside an hour.³

  • Using MoneyGram can cost more than a traditional money order, thanks to higher fees.⁴

How to make a MoneyGram international money order

It’s pretty straightforward to send money with MoneyGram, but there are a few things you need to be aware of before you start. Read our simple step by step guide and you’ll be ready to go. The steps you’ll need are different depending on how you’re sending the money. The options you have are:

  • Online
  • In person
  • With a bank account
  • To a mobile wallet — only available for a few destinations

If you’re sending money online:

  1. Set up a MoneyGram account, if you don’t already have one.
  2. Log into your account.
  3. Enter the country you’re sending to, then the amount you want to send. Remember, MoneyGram will add a fee to the figure you’re charged.
  4. Give the receiver’s details. The name you give must be their full, legal name, meaning the one that appears on their official ID. They’ll need to prove their identity to pick up the funds, so it’s important to check you get this right.
  5. Say how the receiver wants to pick up their money — to a bank account or mobile wallet, or in cash.
  6. Choose how you want to pay. You can fund the transfer either from your bank account, or with a credit or debit card. Be aware that if you choose to pay by card, your issuer is likely to charge a fee.
  7. Give details about yourself. This is needed so that MoneyGram can check your identity. These will include your date of birth and email address.
  8. Check the information you’ve given is correct, then send.
  9. If MoneyGram needs further information, you’ll be contacted via the email address you gave, so it needs to be one you check every day.

If you’re sending money in person:

  1. You can only send money in cash using this method, not with a credit or debit card.
  2. Find the MoneyGram location that’s most convenient for you. You can use MoneyGram’s location finder to help you.
  3. Make sure you have your photo ID with you. You’ll need to show this to the agent.
  4. You’ll need to provide the recipient’s full, legal name as listed on their own ID.
  5. You’ll also need to know the recipient’s location, plus the amount you want to send.
  6. Remember that MoneyGram will charge a fee for sending money internationally, so make sure you have enough to cover that, as well as the amount you’re sending.
  7. Give the agent the correct amount, including the fee.
  8. You’ll get an eight-digit reference number. Let your recipient know this as soon as possible, as they’ll need it when picking up the money.

If you’re sending to an international bank account⁵:

  1. Log into your MoneyGram online account. If you don’t have one already, you’ll need to set it up first.
  2. Provide the full, legal name of the person you’re sending to.
  3. Select the “Account Deposit” option.
  4. You’ll now see the total cost including fees, as well as the exchange rate you’re getting.
  5. You may want to compare the total costs with a specialist money service, such as Wise. The Wise borderless account is an alternative way to send money internationally; it also gives you an account you can use to receive funds in dozens of currencies.
  6. Choose how you want to pay. This can be with a credit or debit card, or if you prefer you can pay straight from your own account. Paying with a credit card can cost a little extra due to card issuer fees.
  7. Enter the requested personal information. This is to ensure MoneyGram can verify your identity.
  8. Provide full details of the recipient. You’ll need to know their bank account number.
  9. Check the information you’ve given is correct, then send.

If you’re sending to a mobile wallet:⁶

  1. Check the country you’re sending to offers this service. MoneyGram can only send to wallets with M-Pesa accounts in Tanzania, Kenya, and Romania; or to Econet wallets in Zimbabwe.
  2. If you don’t meet the requirements in step 1, you’ll need to use a different method to send your money. If you do meet them, read on.
  3. You’ll need to give the mobile number of the person you’re sending money to, including the international dial code. Check with them first that the number is linked to their wallet, otherwise the transaction won’t work.
  4. The international dial codes you’ll need to know are: +40 for Romania, +254 for Kenya, +255 for Tanzania, and +263 for Zimbabwe.
  5. Choose whether to pay with cash, or with a credit or debit card. Remember that credit card transactions may come with a fee added on by your card issuer.
  6. Provide the information requested about yourself.
  7. Check everything is correct, then commit to send.

How much does it cost?

The amount you’ll pay to use MoneyGram’s international money orders varies depending on various factors. These include the country you’re sending to and the amount you’re sending. For some destinations, there’s also a difference depending on whether you’re sending money to a bank account or for cash pickup. MoneyGram provides an online tool to estimate fees, but it doesn’t give you an at-a-glance idea of the costs.

Another thing you want to understand and look out for is the mid-market rate. This is the rate you’ll want to use for comparison: it’s the one you’ll see if you check rates on XE or Google, the midpoint between what they buy and what they sell at. The trouble is, it’s not usually the one you’ll get. When you buy foreign currency, the bank or exchange provider will nearly always add a markup on top. This isn’t usually called a fee, but it’ll have the same effect on your funds.

What you really want is the rate that banks use between themselves. This is simply called the interbank rate or mid-market rate. It’s not always easy to tell whether the rate you’re getting is anywhere near this, so what you need is an online currency converter. Make sure you check its numbers each time against the ones you’re being offered. You’ll quickly see whether you’re getting good value.

Here’s a quick guide to how much you’ll pay in total — including the fees — for some popular options with MoneyGram, when choosing the option to pay cash at location.⁷

Destination country Sending $200 Sending $500 Sending $1,000
Canada $213.00 $537.00 $1061.00
Australia $214.00 $520.00 $1,032.00
United Kingdom (cash pickup) $217.00 $535.00 $1,058.00
United Kingdom (paid into bank account) $207.00 $507.00 $1,007.00
Japan $209.99 $509.99 $1016.00

When looking at the fees for your transfer, don't forget to take into account the rate your money will be converted at. You may want to consider using a service such as Wise, which gives users access to the desirable mid-market rate for all of their transfers. Signing up to their borderless account also gets you local bank details in the UK, eurozone, New Zealand, Australia and the US — so you can pay and get paid just like a local would. Give it a try today.

How do I track a MoneyGram money order?

You can track a MoneyGram transaction in two ways:

  • If you have a MoneyGram online account, you’ll be able to check tracking details by logging in.
  • You can also use the Track a Transfer tool on the MoneyGram website.

If you use Track a Transfer, you’ll need to supply two things:

  • Your legal last name — the one you gave when setting up the transaction.
  • The Authorization or Reference Number. You’ll see these numbers in the confirmation emails you received — the Authorization Number in the one you got when you submitted your transaction, and the Reference Number in the email you got when the money was ready to be picked up by the person you’re sending the money to.

MoneyGram is a flexible option for sending money internationally. It offers several different ways you can send funds, as well as allowing your recipients to pick them up in a way that’s convenient to them. You do need to set up an online account for some of these methods, and it’s important to be aware of the fees that’ll be charged on top of the amount you send. Think about whether MoneyGram’s for you, and compare it to alternatives such as Wise before you make your final decision.



All sources last checked 21 March 2019

*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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