Walmart’s new Money Order limits: new speed limit enforced [likely nationwide]


Those who have long manufactured spend by using gift cards to purchase money orders at Walmart will now find themselves running into a new roadblock: cashiers are now reportedly being prompted by the register to ask for ID for any money order transactions in excess of $1K (seems to be nationwide) and inputting it into a Walmart database. Furthermore, registers are hard-coded not to allow a customer to purchase more than $8,000 in money orders per 24 hours. While these limits won’t be too restrictive for those simply looking to use this technique to help meet minimum spend now and then, they are a sure blow to those manufacturing spend in volume.

It was reported a few weeks ago by Million Mile Guy that memos had gone out to stores about new money order limits set to take effect on October 16, 2018. However, the 16th came and went without change at many stores — including the one that I frequent most — and thus it seemed business as usual for most.

However, reports have come in both at Million Mile Guy (see his post for screen shots of the memos) and via comments at Doctor of Credit advising of the new limits being in effect at stores in various states around the country as of yesterday, November 1, 2018. This time, it looks like the limits are for real and very likely nationwide (or will be very shortly). The new money order limits at Walmart are as follows:

  • If a customer buys money orders in excess of $1K, the computer will automatically prompt the cashier to enter the customer’s name and driver’s license number into Walmart’s “Know Your Customer” database (previously this happened at $3K)
  • That information in the system hard codes the computer not to allow said customer to purchase more than $8,000 in money orders “in a single day”, which is being defined as a 24-hour period in practice (was previously $10K per calendar day, though this varied by store).
  • The “Know Your Customer” database entry is different from a Suspicious Activity Report, which is collected when a cashier has reason to believe you are up to no good.
  • The key difference between the Know Your Customer entry and the Suspicious Activity Report is that the SAR requests your social security number and is more likely to be shared with authorities for purposes of investigating money laundering, etc.

Additionally, bill pay transactions will now be limited to a rolling $8,000 per 30 days.

A few of my thoughts on this:

  1. Not a big deal for casual MSers. If you’re just doing a thousand here or there to meet minimum spend, this is unlikely to make much a difference in your life. This might even make it easier as you won’t be tempted to do $2K in 4 swipes, which likely attracts more skepticism than $1K in 2 swipes.
  2. Know Your Customer database may be a concern for some and no big deal for others. I’m not excited about the idea of supplying my driver’s license number to Walmart, so I’ll probably look to keep it under $1K. Reports we’ve received indicate that if you buy a MO for $999.12 and the MO fee of $0.88 brings you up to $1K, you’ll have to enter your ID as your transaction will be for $1,000 total. Update: I’ve personally confirmed that an MO + transaction fee that comes to a total of $1K does not trigger the need for ID. Of course, if you regularly buy MOs that fly just under the radar, I’d wonder if an ambitious cashier might want to file a suspicious activity report. It’s sort of a Catch-22 that will likely depend on the relationships you build/have built at your local store(s).
  3. This will make liquidation slow for those doing volume. Since I don’t live particularly close to any stores, I usually spend one day in a larger area once or twice a month making the rounds at a number of stores and can liquidate the volume I need to in one day. Now it will take me twice as long. That’s unfortunate as I often advise people not to get stuck with more in gift cards than you could find a use for if your preferred liquidation methods dried up. To follow my own advice, I would have to reduce my purchasing…which in turn reduces my rewards….or find alternative means of manufactured spend. Luckily . .
  4. We maintain a Complete Guide to Manufactured spending. It lists many other ways to earn points beyond the gift card / money order route. Surely there are additional niche methods that pop up for those keeping their eyes open and ears to the ground. This is a definite speed limit, but hardly the end to MS.

Bottom line

Those who only MS a thousand bucks here or there will likely not be affected by this policy change, whereas the new Walmart Money Order limits are surely a pain for those manufacturing spend in volume as this makes the already-tedious process of liquidation even slower. It also adds an element of hassle for the cashier, which isn’t desirable when stores are busy and lines are long. Unfortunately, this doesn’t look to be store-by-store but rather hard-coded into the system. I do not think this means stores which were previously more restrictive (e.g. did not allow money order purchases with gift cards) will change their tune. In other words, if your store(s) did not allow you to buy MOs before, this memo likely makes no difference for you. But for those with stores that were previously friendly about doing larger volume, this will add a big hurdle to volume liquidation and likely push them to look elsewhere for new methods.

About Nick Reyes

Nick Reyes is a (fairly) regular guy with an animalistic passion for maximizing the value of miles and money to travel the world in comfort and style. There is little in life that he loves more than finding a fantastic deal and helping you shop smarter & harder to achieve your travel dreams.

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DaninMCI
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DaninMCI

I’d love to know why Walmart doesn’t like this business. Is it government pressure, not worth the staffing, not enough profit per transaction?

MillionMileGuy
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MillionMileGuy

@DaninMCI, I don’t think the pressure is coming from Walmart here, it’s from Moneygram. Walmart leases Moneygram “technology” and the anti-money laundering reporting and responsibilities are pretty full on. The issue is that MGram isn’t in the business of deciding who’s doing these amounts for points and who’s doing it for nefarious purposes. So they just throw a cold blanket over the entire thing.

voyager
Guest
voyager

yes, it is MoneyGram who is requiring this, that’s what I was told by the WM cashier last night as well.

Blue
Guest
Blue

Yes, and I suspect a Moneygram ban wave will occur once they’ve got a few months of DL purchase data/

Geoff
Guest
Geoff

$8k a day??? That’s kinda nuts.

iahphx
Guest
iahphx

It’s nuts to you, and me, and other “hobbyists” who might want to meet a minimum spend or gin up a few award points. But others are hungrier. They try to make a business out of stuff like this. Of course, it’s these “exploiters” who tend to get things shut down. But it’s a free society. So as long as it’s not illegal (and, I suppose, even if it is), you’re going to get some pedal-to-the-metal folks. It’s why I think it’s best when offers have limits (like the quarterly credit card bonuses that are capped at $1500 in spend), so you don’t get crazy excess, and the deal survives.

Gaurav
Guest
Gaurav

Yeah, I emailed Greg when my local store asked for info on 11/1. I usually buy 2x $999.12 MOs for a total of $2k and split pay with four cards. I thought about splitting the charges yesterday but like you said, it’s a catch-22 and I don’t want to act like I’m trying to hide something.

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[…] to unload your gift cards, then you should pay attention, especially if you do large volumes. Frequent Miler reports that cashiers are now being prompted to ask for ID during the checkout process on money […]

knick1959
Guest
knick1959

While not directly MO related, my local and always-MS-friendly-in-the-past WM has acquired a new manager/clerk who starts talking about “fraud” when I try to load a second VGC to my GoBank card. I tried to explain that GB started only allowing $500 loads at a time, but I am allowed to load up to $2500 a day (I was looking to load $1500 but then 2 Emerald cards). She was adamant it was fraud. Knucklehead. Not sure if this is a side affect of the money order policy, but I’d happily share my DL info if it could be done quickly and if it would avoid the silliness of this new-to-me clerk.

I was allowed to load a single $500 VGC. I went in the next day, made sure that specific clerk was nowhere to be found, and one of the friendlier CSRs loaded my remaining $3k across 3 cards.

What a hassle. Thanks for letting me vent.

JEM
Guest
JEM

I bought a $999.75 (+ $0.25 fee) MO this morning with no ID required. Clerk said ID only needed if total MO face value was $1000 or more.

This will reduce my trips to WM – no need to stay under $2K any more – if they’re taking the info anyway, might as well be for $4K or $6K…

Russ
Guest
Russ

The clerks at my location *insist* that all MOs have to be bought in one transaction and you’re only allowed one MO transaction per day. For me the only way around it would be to go early and then late in the day trying to hit people from two different shifts.

Also, the 4-swipe rule is still in effect so $2k is still the limit if you are liquidating $500 cards.

Brian
Guest
Brian

Hey Russ I’m new to MS. Where is a good place I can buy a GC and which one should I get to be able to buy a Money order with at a Walmart?

When I use a credit card to purchase these GC will it code as cash equivalent or will I actually get the points for the x amount I spend on the GC.

ABC
Guest
ABC

How do you do $8k?
Most WMs only let you buy all MOs in ONE transaction. It’s hard to exceed $2k.

Hari
Guest
Hari

I’ve seen many MS go one Walmart to the other. There are about 5 Walmarts within 10 mile radius of my house.

P-bope
Guest
P-bope

I only do $999.12 with a $0.88 fee to make it an even $1000 a week when we’re in the Walmart area. This is enough for me since I have other ways to meet minimum spend and I only do ~$40k of MS a year, so this won’t affect me much unless my local Walmart decides to do it for all MO purchases. I’ll just purchase $998 and with the MO fee, it will be under $1000. And just empty the leftover in my amazon account.

iahphx
Guest
iahphx

Since it isn’t illegal to turn gift cards into money orders (or other cash instruments), I’m a bit surprised that some business hasn’t developed to cater to the manufactured spending “community” to make it easier to unload them. I presume the system would work on some sort of trusted customer basis; kind of how gift card buyers prefer to do business with regular customers who they know aren’t scammers. Any reason this hasn’t happened, and why folks have to go down to the Walmart and look sketchy to get rid of their gift cards? Is there no money to be made by creating an alternative?

AlexL
Guest
AlexL

I am totally guessing, but it could be the legal liability of anti-money laundering.

iahphx
Guest
iahphx

That could be it, I suppose. Beats me. There’s certainly a lot of money floating around in this game. Is there anyone reading this who’s ever gotten a money order at a Walmart who wouldn’t prefer an alternative? With competitive fees, it would be a huge business.

Russ
Guest
Russ

Short answer: it’s too expensive.

Swipe fees alone eat 1%, then you have to pay to build and maintain a system, and pay people to run it. At a fee of $10/500 it won’t break even, and most MSers won’t pay $25/500 card so you’re left only with fraudsters. See also Tio and Evolve Money. Q.E.D.

mark
Guest
mark

Hopefully this will put an end to “You can only do one transaction”.

a$]-[u
Guest
a$]-[u

I ran into this limit last week, however buying 999.12 DID NOT require ID.

Jeremy
Guest
Jeremy

It’s been a while since I did MS on a regular basis…like a few years. Life got in the way and when the easier ways dried up, felt less of a need. Anyway am I understanding this correctly that you can use VGCs with a PIN at Walmart to buy MOs? They don’t check your “debit card” to see your name?

voyager
Guest
voyager

why all the worry about the ID? I cashed in $2k last night and had no problem giving her my DL. What are they going to do? It’s not like I’m doing something illegal. What are the possible outcomes?

THEsocalledfan
Guest
THEsocalledfan

100% correct. Bring them on if they want to investigate. My theory is it is the cash back crowd who wants to avoid this as it is then income……

srwebman
Guest
srwebman

As I understand it, cash back is considered a “rebate” by the IRS, not income, and is therefore not taxable.

MFK
Guest
MFK

I’m not a heavy MS’er so this won’t affect me for the most part, but I have had problems in the LA area (and once in Reno and NorCal each when traveling) using VGCs. Several times recently I’ve been told preemptively or in the midst of transactions that they are not allowed, and one time recently a CSR said she’d allow me to do it “this time,” but not in the future. Has VGC use been blessed system-wide under the new rules or will it continue to be YMMV? Thanks in advance.

Tom
Guest
Tom

“The key difference between the Know Your Customer entry and the Suspicious Activity Report is that the SAR requests your social security number and is more likely to be shared with authorities for purposes of investigating money laundering, etc.”

This is not true. The key difference between the KYC reporting and SAR reporting is that except for a very select few individuals (FinCEN and law enforcement namely), the customer is absolutely NOT supposed to know a whether a SAR was or was not filed. The employee filing the SAR isn’t going to ask for the customer’s details to tip them off to the filing of a SAR. It is not required that all of the information on a SAR be filled out in full. Filing a SAR is actually a pretty big deal as they are handled on an individual basis; it’s not like Walmart would file 5,000 SARs daily and expect anything to be done with them.

John
Guest
John

It is clear that the real world limit is 2K a day. I know I’m limited to 4 debit cards in a 24 hour period. If it were $8K a day I’d have no problem with it. What am I supposed to do, whip out $6k in cash to complete the $8K?I have heard of Simon Malls issuing $1K Gift Cards, but only to business organizations.

DavidD
Guest
DavidD

Interesting

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[…] The MS beatings continue: Walmart’s new Money Order limits: new speed limit enforced [likely nationwide]. […]