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Once you are done adding a PIN to a gift card, the next step is to buy a money order. Before I stepped into the realm of manufactured spending, I had never bought a money order, nor did I know how. Chances are one or two of you are in the same boat, so I am going to show you how. This guide is based on money orders at Meijer or Walmart. It is probably very similar wherever you get one, however those are the only two stores I have ever bought a money order.
What is a money order?
A money order is basically a check that you have to prepay for. It is considered a more trustworthy form of payment, since it is prepaid for. However, they are commonly used for money laundering, which makes banks more cautious to accept them.
Why would you buy one?
You could buy them to pay bills or pay a friend. I’m sure there are many other legitimate reasons for buying money orders besides manufactured spending, however I only buy them to MS.
Ordering a money order.
To start, go to Meijer, Walmart, or any other grocery store that sells them (make sure you can use a “debit card”). Walmart is the cheapest place to buy money orders that I know of. They only charge $0.70 per $1,000 while Meijer charges $0.65 per $500. Meijer is my preference, only because Walmart is much farther away, so the gas ends up outweighing the savings. Once at the store simply follow these steps:
1. Walk up to the money center or service desk at the store.
2. Ask for to buy a money order in whatever denomination you want. At Meijer the largest money order you can buy is $500, while Walmart allows you to buy $1,000 money orders. Make sure you let them know if you have multiple cards per transaction, so they don’t try to charge more on the card than it has.
3. That’s it, that’s ll there is to it. It is kind of sketchy the first time you do it, but it’s as simple as that.
For this example, say I have 6 – $200 “debit cards” and I am trying to buy $1,200 worth of money orders at Meijer. As I mentioned earlier, Meijer allows a max of $500 per money order and charges $0.65 per money order.
You could buy these money orders two different ways.
The first way would be asking for three money orders in the amounts of $500, $500, and $198.05. Also, make sure to mention that this transaction would be charged on 6 different cards at $200 per card. This method makes sure that the total comes out to exactly $1,200, so you do not need to pay the fees with a different card.
The second way would be asking for three money orders in the amounts of $500, $500, and $200. You would then mention that this would be charged on 7 different cards. The first 6 cards would need to be charged for $200, then the last card would need to be charged for $1.95 to account for the money order fees.
I prefer the first method, because I do not need to involve my debit card. This is completely up to you, so try both ways and see which you like better.
As with everything in the manufactured spending world this is a very YMMV (your mileage may vary) type of transaction. I have heard reports of people not being allowed to buy money orders with cards that do not have their name on it. I have never had an issue, but be aware that this may happen. If it does, simply try a different store or a different cashier.
Suspicious Activity Reports are the biggest risk of buying money orders. If a store or bank sees you buying or depositing large amounts of money orders, they may fill out a SAR on you which invites the IRS to start looking into your expenses. No one knows the exact amounts that trigger SARs, however $3,000+ purchased and $10,000+ deposited a day are the estimated amounts. A good rule of thumb is to not do more than you are comfortable with. Play it safe.
How do you fill out a money order?
When MSing you will be filling out the money order yourself, so you simply write your name on the Pay To section and put your signature on it. If you need an in depth tutorial you can go here.