Do Money Orders Expire?

Money orders do not expire, according to Western Union and MoneyGram. However, the issuers may charge a service fee if the money order is not cashed within one to three years of purchase, depending on state laws.

If a money order is not presented for cash or payment within one to three years, depending on the state laws where it was purchased, it cannot be used to make a payment. Instead, individuals need to present it through the money order tracing procedure to obtain a refund, according to MoneyGram. Western Union doesn't charge a transaction fee for this process but instead uses the service charge, according to the company website.

As each state has its own laws for the service charge and time limit within which a money order must be cashed, the laws of the state where the money order was purchased will apply to these refunds, states MoneyGram. Individuals who find a money order that is more than a year old, need to read the terms and conditions printed on the back to determine if they can use it for payment or if they need to apply for a refund. The issuer will refund the money minus the service charge once the proper application process has been completed.