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Banking

How to Cancel a Lost Money Order

Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided or commissioned by any financial institution. Any opinions, analyses, reviews, statements or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and may not have been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities prior to publication.

Money orders might sound like an old-school way to make payments, but people still use them every day. And for good reasons: When it comes to sending small amounts — usually less than $1,000 — money orders can be a convenient way to deliver funds.

Money orders are prepaid, meaning you don’t need a bank account to send them and you never have to worry about a check bouncing on your recipient. They’re also great for international payments and times when you don’t want to share your bank information.

But they’re also just a thin piece of paper, which makes them pretty easy to lose. The fact that money orders are paid in advance only makes that threat worse — for any fraudster able to impersonate your recipient, they’re basically free money.

That’s why it’s important to cancel a money order the second you realize it’s been lost. Here’s everything you need to know about the cancellation process.

Step-by-step guide to cancel a lost money order

Cancelling a money order can be simple and straightforward, as long as you remember a few key steps. Here’s an easy guide:

  1. Contact the issuer: Once you realize your money order is missing, you should immediately inform the institution that issued it. Be sure to give them as much info as you can, including the date and location of purchase.
  2. Fill out a request form: This will officially start the cancellation process. Cancellation request forms should be available wherever you got the money order, or online at your issuer’s website. Including a copy of your original receipt is important here, as it holds key info about the payment.
  3. Submit your request: Submit the form to your issuer, along with the cancellation fee. As you’ll see in the table below, these fees vary by institution.
  4. Refund vs. reissue: If your money order was not cashed by someone else, your issuer will give you the option to either get a refund or reissue the payment. Since cancellation can take up to two months, it may be too late to make the payment you needed the order for. In that case, a refund is the best option.

Fees to cancel a lost money order

Cancellation fees vary by issuer, which is something to consider when deciding where to fill out your money order. The list below isn’t comprehensive, but it includes many of the most popular issuers. If you don’t see your preferred bank or institution below, you can contact them directly about fees.

Fees for cancelling a money order

Institution

Fees

Western Union

$15 (with receipt)/$30 (without receipt)

Walmart (MoneyGram)

$18

U.S. Postal Service

$6.15

Wells Fargo

$31

Chase

$0 (Service only available in person)

What happens when a lost money order has been cashed?

Unfortunately, the issuer can’t repay you if someone else cashed your lost money order. Your best bet here is to inform law enforcement — recipients have to present a valid form of ID to cash a money order, meaning anyone cashing your money order illegally may also be committing identity theft.

The issuer should be able to give you info about the identity of the person who cashed your money order, or at the very least when and where the order was cashed. Be sure to follow up with them and get these details to the authorities.

Tips to protect your money order

Dealing with the aftermath of a lost money is a headache — and one that can be avoided. A few precautions go a long way, and these easy tips will make the process a lot safer:

  • Know your recipient: Because the money is guaranteed in advance, money orders are an easy target for scammers. Never send a money order to someone you’re not familiar with.
  • Include your recipient’s name: Never leave the recipient field blank. Be sure you know exactly who you’re sending the money to beforehand, and include that person’s name on the order when it’s issued.
  • Check your status: Most issuers offer online tracking services, so you can see when your money order has been deposited.
  • Be speedy: If you can, send your money order as soon as you get it. That way, you’ll cut down on the amount of time it can be lost or stolen.
  • Consider your alternatives: Are there other payment forms that would be safer? Helpful alternatives include a wire transfer, a personal check or an online payment service. If you’re considering sending money online, here are some of the best services available.

The bottom line

Overall, money orders can be a fast and easy option for making a payment, but only in certain situations.

If you’re without a checking account, sending money international or paying a recipient who won’t accept checks, it’s definitely an option to consider. Still, it’s worth knowing the downsides of relying on a thin sheet of prepaid cash.

Being aware of these risks, and taking steps to prevent them, will make the entire process a lot more convenient.

Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

Dillon Thompson
Dillon Thompson |

Dillon Thompson is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Dillon here

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Banking

Can I Open a Bank Account Online?

Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided or commissioned by any financial institution. Any opinions, analyses, reviews, statements or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and may not have been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities prior to publication.

Opening a bank account shouldn’t be a chore. Thankfully, internet banks make it pretty easy to open an account online, plus online banks offer some of the most competitive rates available.

Think of a bank account as a deal between you and a financial institution: You deposit money into the account, and the bank keeps the money safe and lets you withdraw it in a variety of convenient ways.

Entering this sort of deal over the internet may seem risky, but if you take precautions and understand what you’re doing it can be a smart way to manage your money. Here’s what you need to know to open an account online.

What you need to open an account online

Online banks ask for varying kinds of information, but there are a few items you’ll almost always need. Here’s what you should have on-hand:

  • Your full address, plus other basic personal and contact information.
  • Your Social Security number or Taxpayer Identification Number, either of which will help verify your identity.
  • Your government-issued I.D., since many banks will ask for another form of identification besides your Social Security number. A passport, driver’s license or birth certificate will usually do.
  • Key financial details, like routing and account numbers for the source of funds you plan on depositing in your new account.

Open an account online: Perks and potential risks

There are plenty of advantages to ditching traditional brick-and-mortar banks to open an account online. Here are some perks:

  • Higher interest rates: Traditional banks typically offer annual interest rates of around 0.01%, meaning every year you’ll make $1 for every $10,000 in your account. Meanwhile, many online checking accounts earn as much as 2.00% each year, while some savings accounts offer up to 2.53% (as of the date of publishing).
  • No overdraft fees: Overdraft fees are the penalty you’re charged when you spend more money than you have available. Thankfully, you can find plenty of online banks that have checking accounts with no overdraft fees. Overdraft fees can be as high as $39 for some of the big banks, many of which can charge you multiple times per day until you replenish your funds.
  • Easy account setup: Convenience is another major benefit here. Online banks let you set up your account quickly and from the comfort of your own home.

That being said, there are also some downsides worth considering before you open an account online:

  • No in-person help: A personal touch can be helpful when managing your money. If you have a problem or question regarding your account, most online banks don’t have any brick-and-mortar locations.
  • Website malfunctions: This may seem like a rare occurrence, but if your bank’s site does happen to go down, you may be unable to access your funds for limited periods.
  • ATM access: Many online banks are part of free ATM networks — such as Allpoint — with locations across the country. However, if you find yourself without one of those nearby, you might face steep withdrawal fees when using another bank’s machine.

Here’s how to stay safe if you open an account online

The best online banks can be just as safe as a traditional account, as long as you take the proper steps to secure your info. Here are some tips to keep in mind when accessing your account:

  • Avoid public Wi-Fi: Public networks can be hotbeds for hackers, so it’s best to do your banking at home — or use your cellular data connection when you’re on the go.
  • Turn on text alerts: Almost every online bank offers text notifications that alert you when your funds run low or if a large purchase is made from your account — make use of them! If you’re hacked, they’ll also help you figure it out a lot quicker.
  • Update your software: You should regularly check that your computer is running the latest antivirus software, and that your mobile banking app is updated.
  • Make sure your money’s insured: It’s worth confirming that your online bank is Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation-insured, meaning the federal government will protect your money if the bank fails (generally up to $250,000). You can do that by checking the FDIC’s search tool.

Great online banks to start with

So what bank should you choose? Each online bank has its own advantages, but some stand out above the rest. Here are a few of the top options from our rankings:

High-yield online savings account

Online Savings Account from Ally Bank

Online Savings Account from Ally Bank

APY

2.20%

Minimum Balance to Earn APY

$0

LEARN MORE Secured

on Ally Bank’s secure website

Member FDIC

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High-yield CD

High Yield 12-Month CD from Ally Bank

High Yield 12-Month CD from Ally Bank

APY

2.55%

Minimum Balance to Earn APY

$0

LEARN MORE Secured

on Ally Bank’s secure website

Member FDIC

Advertiser Disclosure

We'll receive a referral fee if you click here. This does not impact our rankings or recommendations.

High-yield money market account

Money Market Account from earn.bank

Money Market Account from earn.bank

APY

2.46%

Minimum Balance to Earn APY

$0

LEARN MORE Secured

on earn.bank’s secure website

Member FDIC

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We'll receive a referral fee if you click here. This does not impact our rankings or recommendations

High-yield checking account

Institution
APY
Minimum Account Balance to Earn APY
Aspiration
Aspiration Account from Aspiration

2.00%

$0

LEARN MORE Secured

on Aspiration’s secure website

Online banking can be risky, but not if you do your homework. A little bit of research goes a long way, and ultimately finding the right online account can mean more savings, easier access and — most importantly — a lot less stress.

Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

Dillon Thompson
Dillon Thompson |

Dillon Thompson is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Dillon here

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How These Newlyweds Tackled Six-Figure Debt in Their First Year of Marriage

Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided or commissioned by any financial institution. Any opinions, analyses, reviews, statements or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and may not have been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities prior to publication.

Newlyweds Faith, 27, and Leo, 30, eliminated over $100,000 of debt in their first year of marriage.

When Faith and Leo Jean-Louis tied the knot in June 2017, they carried a joint debt load of over $200,000 down the aisle along with them.

Even before their nuptials, the Atlanta couple decided to make paying off the balance a priority in their first few years of marriage, no matter what. Now, about a year into their debt payoff mission, the couple has already knocked out more than $100,000 of their debt.

It was no easy feat, and required a commitment to working longer hours and seeing less of their family, friends and each other. The couple recently spoke with MagnifyMoney about the lessons they learned in their first year paying down their debt, and their plan for how they’ll approach things differently in the years to come.

‘The biggest thing standing in our way was debt’

The Jean-Louises met back in 2014, when they were both newcomers to Atlanta. Leo, 30, who had moved to the city to begin his career as an occupational therapist, met Faith, 27, a nursing student at Emory University, at church.

They started dating a few months later, and in 2016, they got engaged. In premarital counseling sessions with their pastor, the couple was encouraged to think about the purpose of their marriage. They both agreed that giving to others — not just their money, but also their time — was a major desire.

“One of the questions we had to ask ourselves was: ‘What do we want life to look like in three years, five years, 10 years from now?’” Leo said. “The biggest thing standing in our way was debt.”

Choosing a strategy

Faith and Leo both earned undergraduate and master’s degrees, and together they owed around $194,000 in student loans. The rest of the $211,000 obstacle came from credit card debt, which included wedding expenses and their honeymoon to Greece.

The couple hired a certified financial planner to help start the process. At first, they tried to prioritize debts by highest interest rate, but it became too overwhelming, as some of their biggest debts had the highest rates. They switched gears and opted to use the debt snowball method instead, which involves paying off debts with the smallest balances first as a way to gain easy wins early and build momentum. This meant tackling the credit card debt before worrying about the mountain of student loans.

Their adviser recommended they use some of their savings to make a lump payment on their loans. They paid $10,000 toward that in August 2017, and things took off from there.

“That’s when we knew that this was really serious,” Leo said. “That really got us kick-started.”

Putting in extra hours

Working extra shifts and a part-time job were a huge part of the couple’s strategy to whittle away their debt.

Leo took on additional therapy shifts on weeknights and Saturday afternoons. Faith, meanwhile, kept her side job from graduate school, where she worked as an overnight nurse for new mothers. Pulling these night shifts five or six times a week was exhausting, she said.

“I’d go to my full-time job, leave around 5 or 5:30 p.m., come back home, take a quick nap and then wake up to go to my overnight job, and then leave for my full-time job again that morning,” Faith said.

Their second paychecks — other than the 10 percent they tithed to their church — went entirely toward the debt. Thanks to careful budgeting and self-control with entertainment and spending, the Jean-Louises managed to live entirely off the money from their primary jobs as a nurse and occupational therapist.

Spending little time with each other was a sacrifice for the newlyweds, but seeing their debt decline helped them keep focused.

“We just kept reminding ourselves: ‘Hey, life is not always going to be this way,’” Leo said. “We knew we’d have the next 20, 30, 40 years to live how we want to if we could just sacrifice for this short period of time.”

One side benefit was that they bonded more as a couple.

“We had to constantly be in communication: asking each other how we were doing, encouraging one another when we were tired,” Leo said.

Small savings add up

Faith and Leo track their progress and share updates for friends and family on social media. (Photo credit: Leo Jean-Louis)

When they first started tackling their debt, the couple put together a budget by tallying all the money they were spending each month and looking for places where they could cut back. Leo said it was “trial and error” at first, but once they realized where they could save the most, they began to make major lifestyle changes.

They started carpooling to work, which saved around $100 per month. They saved about $240 every month by packing their lunches for work. They even saved between $50 and $60 each month by forgoing a cable plan, instead using an Amazon Fire Stick, which retails for $40, to watch TV shows online.

Instead of going out to restaurants and movie theaters on weekends, they hung out at their friends’ homes. Rotating houses each time, these potluck-style dinners helped them stay social without expensive nights on the town.

A long journey ahead

With half of their debt behind them, Faith said in June that she and Leo would be taking a month or so to relax. They’re planning a vacation to Costa Rica, exploring Atlanta and dialing back on their second jobs.

“I still think we want to be aggressive with it, because we don’t want this to last much longer, however, right now we are taking some time to have a break,” Faith said. “We still have our part-time jobs, but we’ve calmed down with the amount of shifts we’re taking.”

Still, the Jean-Louises are confident that they’ll stay committed to their money-conserving lifestyle, a big part of which involves the small, day-to-day decisions that have saved them so much over the past year.

The couple’s goal is to be debt-free by December 2019 — a task they think is easily attainable if they keep living this way. They also might receive help from Faith’s employer, which will allow her to enter a repayment plan that could help pay off as much as $50,000 of the remaining total. Faith will become eligible for the plan in fall 2019, and they’ll make their decision then.

“I think it’s just about remembering that this is temporary,” Faith said. “It’s not going to last — it’s just a season we have to go through.”

Faith and Leo’s tips for overcoming debt

The Jean-Louises don’t see their story as an anomaly. The couple uses Leo’s Instagram page to inspire others trying to conquer debt and offer advice.

“We want people to know that they can get out of debt, too,” Leo said.

Here are Faith and Leo’s four tips for tackling debt:

  • Think about “the why”: Leo admits that the total can be overwhelming, which is why he suggests people first consider their reasons for wanting to be debt-free. “If you can dream a little bit about where you want to be, that should give you enough motivation to take the first step,” he said.
  • Write down your debts: Actually look at the numbers, consider what you owe and what you could end up paying over a lifetime if you took a more conservative approach to paying off debt, such as if you were only making the minimum payment each month.
  • Track your expenses: Life changes, whether small or large, are needed. Look at every aspect of your monthly spending and find ways to save, no matter how miniscule they may seem. “Let’s say you decide to go to Starbucks every morning. Is Starbucks that necessary? Or can you make your own coffee at home?” Faith said. “It’s just seeing what’s important to you and what you can decrease or cut back on.”
  • Remember to enjoy yourself: Always make time to have fun, even if you have a rigid plan. “You can make a budget for the things you like to do, which will help you stay focused and not get so overwhelmed,” Faith said.

Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

Dillon Thompson
Dillon Thompson |

Dillon Thompson is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Dillon here

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