Money orders are handy alternatives when you want to send money. You can buy them at the U.S. Post Office as well as at retail stores and online. You prepay the money order with cash, a debit card, or with one of the best credit cards for buying money orders, so there is no chance that the money order will bounce.
When you pay with a credit card, the transaction is considered a cash advance. The 10 cards in this review are best for purchasing money orders because they charge no or relatively low cash advance fees.
No-Fee Cards for Buying Money Orders
These five cards are all issued by credit unions and charge no cash advance fees. At this time, only credit unions and select community banks offer cards that do not charge cash advance fees.
These cards generally offer low interest rates, with the lowest rates going to their most creditworthy cardholders. Interest accrues at the cash advance APR starting on the first day — there are no grace periods.
1. PenFed Platinum Rewards Visa Signature® Card
The PenFed Platinum Rewards Visa Signature® Card is issued by Pentagon Federal Credit Union, which is open to members, families, veterans, and retirees of the Armed Forces, Department of Defense, and related organizations.
The card offers 5X points for gas purchases at the pump, 3X points at grocery stores, and 1X points on all other purchases. It also offers an introductory $100 statement credit for $1,500 of spending in the first 90 days, and a 0% APR (fees apply) on balance transfers during an initial 12-month period after opening the account.
2. American 1 Rewards Credit Card
The American 1 Credit Union issues the American 1 Rewards Credit Card. To join the credit union, you must belong to Michigan’s Community 1 Cooperative. The card lets you earn one point for each $1 you spend on purchases and may offer bonus point promotions from time to time.
You can redeem the points for gifts and travel rewards via the ScoreCard Rewards website. The card also provides lost luggage reimbursement and protected online purchases.
3. First Tech® Platinum Rewards Mastercard®
The First Tech® Platinum Rewards Mastercard® is issued by the not-for-profit First Technology Federal Credit Union. There are hundreds of ways to become a member of this Oregon credit union. This card charges no annual fee.
Cardholders receive 1X points on all purchases, which can be redeemed for merchandise, travel, and charitable contributions. New cardholders can earn 10,000 points by spending $2,000 in the first two months. You also get a 0% APR on balance transfers for the first 12 billing cycles, with no balance transfer fee.
4. DCU Visa® Platinum Credit Card
The Digital Federal Credit Union offers the DCU Visa® Platinum Credit Card. To join the credit union, you or a family member must work for or belong to selected companies and organizations or live, worship, work, or attend school in selected areas.
The card charges no annual fees and no fees for cash advances and balance transfers. It may also offer promotional cash back reward programs from time to time.
5. CapEd Credit Union Visa® Platinum Credit Card
You can get the CapEd Credit Union Visa® Platinum Credit Card by joining the Capital Educators Federal Credit Union. You or a family member must be an employee, retiree, volunteer, or student at a school within select Idaho counties and districts, or a member of the CapEd Foundation to join.
The card offers a low introductory APR for the first 12 months after opening the account. You earn 1X points on purchases that you can redeem for travel and merchandise. You also get travelers’ insurance and will pay no annual or cash advance fees.
Low-Fee Cards for Buying Money Orders
You don’t have to belong to a credit union to get low APRs and fees on cash advances. The following five Capital One credit cards offer the lowest cash advance costs among the major credit card issuers.
All these cards charge a cash advance fee of $10 or 3%, whichever is greater. All other issuers charge at least a 26% APR (at the time of writing) plus a 5% fee for cash advances.
These Capital One cards start accruing interest the day the cash advance is posted, i.e., no grace period. Cash advances do not qualify for rewards.
- $0 annual fee and no foreign transaction fees
- Earn a bonus of 20,000 miles once you spend $500 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $200 in travel
- Earn unlimited 1.25X miles on every purchase, every day
- Miles won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how many you can earn
- Earn 5X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of trip options
- Use your miles to get reimbursed for any travel purchase—or redeem by booking a trip through Capital One Travel
0% for 15 months
0% for 15 months
19.99% - 29.99% (Variable)
The Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card charges no annual fee and lets you earn unlimited miles on all purchases. You can earn bonus mileage by spending the required amount on purchases during the first three months.
New cardmembers also get a 0% APR on purchases during an initial period after opening the account. You can transfer your miles to more than a dozen travel loyalty programs, and miles don’t expire while the account remains open.
The Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card offers unlimited 2X miles on all purchases plus up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®. There is a one-time mileage bonus to new cardmembers who spend the required amount on purchases in a set period of time after opening the account.
The card allows you to transfer your miles to 12+ travel partners, and you can redeem the miles for travel and hotel stays with no blackout dates.
This card is currently not available. Additional Disclosure: Information for this card not reviewed by or provided by Capital One.
8. Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card
This card is currently not available.
Additional Disclosure: Information for this card not reviewed by or provided by Capital One.
The Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card offers tiered, unlimited cash back rewards of 4% on entertainment and dining, 2% at grocery stores, and 1% on all other purchases. The card charges no annual fee for the first year, and there are no balance transfer fees.
New cardmembers can earn a one-time cash bonus by spending the specified amount on purchases during the initial three months.
You pay a low APR on cash advances from the Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card, which pays unlimited cash back on all purchases. The card charges no annual or foreign transaction fees.
Introductory offers include a cash bonus after spending the required amount on purchases during the first three months and a 0% APR offer on purchases for an initial period after opening the account.
The Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card provides unlimited cash back rewards of 3% on dining, entertainment, and grocery stores and 1% on all other purchases. The card charges no annual fee or foreign transaction fees.
New cardmembers get a one-time cash bonus by spending the required amount on purchases during the first three months after opening the account. New cardmembers get a 0% APR offer on purchases during an introductory period.
Alternatives to Buying Money Orders with Credit
You don’t have to use a credit card to obtain a money order. You can use good old cash or a debit card to buy a money order.
In all cases, you are committing money upfront before sending the money order. That’s great news to the recipient because the money order won’t bounce.
When you pay for a money order with a debit card, the amount, including fees, are deducted from your account — either a connected checking account or an account associated directly with the card, which may be a reusable or one-time account.
When you use cash or a debit card, you don’t have to worry about paying interest on the money order amount because you aren’t borrowing any money to buy the money order. This is the cheapest way to pay for a money order.
Note that the money order issuer may charge currency conversion fees for international transactions. Expect the issuer to earn a profit on the exchange rate fee.
Money orders offer a few advantages when sending money. They are safer than sending cash, which is untraceable and can be stolen or lost.
They are safer than personal checks because they don’t expose your checking account number to identity thieves. And, money orders allow unbanked individuals to send money anywhere in the world.
Money order fees are cheaper than the fees for a certified or cashier’s check from a bank. However, we must note that it may be difficult to receive a refund on a money order if something goes wrong.
In addition, unless you use an online money order service, you must visit a retail location to send a money order. The money order is printed out so you can give or mail it to the recipient. Western Union and MoneyGram are the leading money order outlets.
Can I Purchase a Money Order with a Credit Card?
Yes, you can use a credit card to purchase a money order as long as the card allows cash advances. As of writing, only two retailers — 7-Eleven and Western Union — accept credit card cash advances to pay for money orders.
Banks and credit union branches may accept credit cards to fund money orders, but you’ll need to confirm with them individually.
Credit card cash advances begin incurring interest from the first day. Unlike credit card purchases, cash advances have no interest-free grace periods.
The amount you’ll pay is the daily interest rate times the number of days until you repay the cash advance. While some credit union credit cards may waive fees for cash advances, most other credit cards charge a fee for each advance.
When you add the cash advance fee to the fee charged by the money order issuer, you can end up paying a nice chunk of change. In addition, many credit cards charge a cash advance APR that’s higher than its purchase APR. Many cards offer an introductory 0% APR to new cardmembers on purchases for a set period after opening the account, but the offer never extends to cash advances.
Despite the drawbacks of paying for a money order with a credit card, sometimes you may not have the cash or bank balance necessary. Under those circumstances, a credit card cash advance may be the only way for you to pay for a money order.
Can I Purchase a Money Order with a Debit Card?
Debit cards are a great way to pay for a money order. You can use a variety of debit cards, including:
- Check cards: These cards are linked to your checking account and are functionally equivalent to writing a check. However, the check card transaction amount is immediately deducted from your checking account, whereas checks are deducted when they clear, a process that can take days. Most debit cards are backed by Visa or Mastercard networks. Unless your checking account has overdraft protection, your debit card may be rejected if using it would cause an overdraft. Alternatively, the bank may approve the overdraft but charge you a hefty penalty.
- Visa or Mastercard debit cards: These are cards that can function in two ways. You can use your PIN to use the card as a check card, sending the request for payment directly to your bank from the merchant. Or you can sign the transaction authorization, in which case the merchant temporarily borrows your payment from Visa or Mastercard until the money is withdrawn from your account.
- Maestro debit card: Maestro is Mastercard’s European debit card network, which you may encounter if you are an international traveler.
- Prepaid cards: You buy these cards and load them with funds, including cash, checks, and online transfers. These cards are perfect for unbanked consumers. You’ll never have to worry about an overdraft since you can only spend the card balance.
- ATM card: This is a debit card that is not associated with a credit card network such as Mastercard or Visa. You use your PIN number with this card — the signature option is not available. You can only use the card at an ATM, where you can get cash to pay for the money order.
When you buy a money order with a debit card, you forego the chance to improve your credit score because the transaction is not reported to the three major credit bureaus, Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax. If you use a credit card and always pay your bill on time, you may see your credit score rise.
Can I Purchase a Money Order Online?
This topic can be confusing because many consumers conflate money orders with money transfers. You cannot purchase a money order online, but it’s easy to transfer money online.
The reason you can’t buy a money order online is security. Specifically, it’s difficult for a money order vendor to verify the purchaser’s identity and payment method.
That’s important because money orders are guaranteed payments, and a vendor doesn’t want to be left holding the bag when a fraudster tries to buy a money order online.
Online money transfers are a different kettle of fish. In fact, you can perform online money transfers in several ways:
- Money-sending services: You can use services like Western Union and MoneyGram to send money all over the world. You simply go on their websites and follow the instructions to send money. You can fund the money transfer using a debit card, credit card, or an online bank account.
- Mobile apps: More than a dozen mobile apps are available to transfer money to individuals. Typically, all you need is the recipient’s email address or phone number. You can set up accounts within the apps to hold money and connect the app account to your bank account to transfer cash in and out. Market leaders include Xoom, Venmo, Google Wallet, Popmoney, Zelle, Apple Pay, Square Cash, Chase QuickPay, Facebook Messenger, ClearXchange, and Western Union.
- Bank wire: You can send money from your bank account to the recipient’s bank account over a traditional bank network. Many banks let you perform a bank wire by filling out an online form with the required instructions. Same-day service is possible.
The costs of each type of service can vary greatly. It makes sense to compare costs and features to ensure you get the best service for your money.
Avoid Fees by Using Cash or a Money Transfer App
Money orders have not disappeared despite the proliferation of money transfer services and apps. The 10 credit cards we review here are good candidates to use for purchasing money orders because they charge no or (relatively) low cash advance fees.
Five of the cards are issued by credit unions and charge no cash advance fees, but you must first join the credit union. Capital One issues the other five credit cards, and they charge a cash advance fee of $10 or 3%, whichever is greater.
You can use cash or a debit card to avoid cash advance fees and interest charges. You can also use a mobile app, bank wire, or money-sending service instead of a money order to send money online.