Posted by Don L on October 23, 2017
Checking Accounts

Published on October 23rd, 2017 | by Don L

79

Money Order Sensitivity

Quick Summary

This post is an organization of money order deposit/shutdown data points.

(HT: Huge thanks to the flyertalk and r/churning communities for the majority of the data points.  Please consider sharing your data points if you find this resource page helpful.)

Short Intro

Talmer Bank doesn’t exist anymore.  At least not in name, it was acquired by (merged with) Chemical Bank in late 2016.

But when Talmer Bank was still around and offering bank bonuses, this flyertalk post [TalmerBank closed A/C after 2 MO deposits] caught me by surprise.

Immediately depositing money orders after opening an account can be a risky move (see Best Practices Section) [and there may have been special circumstances in this case], but this poster appears to have gotten the worst of all worlds:

  • no signup bonus,
  • big chunk of wasted time,
  • possibly the need to float deposited funds for a period of time, and
  • potentially a black mark on a shared bank systems report [201601ft_MIA201709ft_FGI] (though this appears rare)

Talmer went on my personal list of sensitive banks, but perhaps a shared list of data points could help our community.  Of course, with the understanding:

  • that regardless of general sensitivity level (if such a thing exists) at some elevated MO volume almost every financial institution will take notice,
    • while most financial institutions will find no issue at some low volume level [the self-respecting money launderer standard 🙂 {though the actual lower bar (if such a thing exists) may be smaller perhaps this value per month depending on financial situation/relationship}]
  • rules (AML/KYC/…) and their implementations are complex and may be difficult to parse apart.

Beyond the implications for a popular type of manufactured spending, this list may also serve as a proxy for bank sensitivity to other transactions (cryptocurrency, …).

Shared Best Practices

The commonly shared best practices for money order deposits:

Don’t Use a Bank That You Value for Anything Else

The simple reason – if the bank ends your relationship you only lose an institution for depositing money orders.  So:

Local Small Credit Union or Bank

A local credit union or bank is often recommended.  Some of the reasoning includes:

  • Proximity of bank to customer’s residence or business is a potential risk factor
  • sirtheta’s reasoning (based on foreign assets and high intensity financial crime areas [or high intensity drug trafficking area])
  • Potentially different technology/reporting than larger institutions
  • Potentially more local decision makers vs. full algorithm/rule based

Business Account

Computer algorithms may expect more money order volume when deposited to a business account.  Business type may also be a factor.

Age/Season the Account

Open and use the account for some time before depositing money orders (establish a relationship).

  • How long? Probably the longer, the better [at least a few months]
  • Start small, slowly ramp up volume

Velocity Rule/Float Rule

Slowing how quickly funds move through the account may be beneficial (velocity rule) [funds flow]

  • If you account is closed you may be without (need to float) the deposited funds for a period of time.
  • Maintaining a deposit account balance may also be beneficial

Telling the Branch Manager?

If asked about your activities, disclosing that the deposits are part of a process to acquire miles and points seems like the best move.

But should you proactively speak with the Branch Manager? 

  • If the bank does not want your business, then you might be able to establish this before even opening an account, but the conversation itself may add greater scrutiny to the account going forward
  • And this may have little impact if critical decisions are handled by the back office/risk management department

Important Warning on Structuring

I’m not a lawyer, not connected to the banking industry, and definitely not an expert on structuring.  But structuring – completing financial transactions in a pattern that avoids triggering financial reports – is illegal, so please be cautious not to enter into that territory.

Structuring is also not the focus of this post, so here is a collection of posts (takes) on the topic:

Data Points

The below data points use the following format:

  • (Date) Date Reported: YYYYMM
  • (Source) ‘doc’ (DoC), ‘red’ (reddit r/churning), ‘ft_’ (flyertalk), …
  • (User) First Three Characters of UserID

Marking System:

  • (+) Positive DPs {no negative action (when reported)},
  • (-) Negative DP {Shutdown, Warning},
  • (?) Can’t Tell {or Unknown Volume}
  • (#) Positive DP at low volume {less than 2-3K/month}

Alliant

201701redAKS (+),
201703ft_CDO (-),
201707redPMM (#), 
201706ft_EZA (-),

Banco Popular

201408ft_AND (-)

Bank of America

201403ft_TUP (+),
201406ft_SIL (#),
201504ft_FRE (-),
201601ft_KEN (-),
201605ft_JEV (-),
201605ft_RBU (+),
201605ft_DAT (+),
201612ft_PRO (-),
201601mpdVIN (-),
201609ft_CB1 (-),
201707red987 (+),
201707ft_LUM (+),
201708ft_DEA (-),  
201709freFRE (+),
201710docJEF (+), 

Methods of Deposit

Mobile Deposit - No  [201710docTHE] 
Mobile Deposit - Yes [201710docJUS]
ATM Deposit - Yes [201710docTHE]

BB&T

201710docJEF (-),

Blue FCU

Methods of Deposit

ATM Deposit [201710docBOB]

BMO Harris

201707redSOZ (+),
201707redMIK (?),
201710docARA (+) 

Methods of Deposit

Mobile Deposit [201710docBOB]

Busey Bank

201710docARA (+)

Capital One

201610ft_RAM (-),
201611redBRE (#),

Charles Schwab

201603ft_CFF (-), 201609ft_CFF (-),
201603ft_HOK (-),
201603ft_CWA (-),
201612redTEE (#),
201612redWAP (#),
201711ft_FRA (-),
201802ft_CAR (-)

Chase

Many Chase Shutdown Data Points (not all listed)
201412redPHO (-)
201510redJAZ (#),
201601ft_CHR (-),
201611mpdVIN (-),
201704redSIM (-),
201706ft_SUP (-),
201709redDAS (?),
201710docSIR (-), 

Citi

Many Citi Shutdown Data Points (not all listed)
201510redLUM (-),
201512ft_OHI (-),
201710docSIR (-)

Citizens Bank

201706ft_BAR (-),

Connexus Credit Union

Methods of Deposit

ATM Deposit (Partner) [201710docBOB]

Digital Federal Credit Union (DCU)

201408ft_PAY (-),
201703mpdVIN (-), 
201703ft_RAM (-),
201703ft_RIC (-),
201704ft_TRA (-),
201704ft_BEN (-), 
201705ft_MDS (-)

Discover

201509ft_DON (-),
201601redGOO (-)

Methods of Deposit

Mobile Deposit - No

Dollar Bank

201504ft_HUZ (-),

Ent CU

201710docGON (+)

Everbank

201405ft_SIL (?), 201408ft_SIL (+),
201408ft_CRA (-),
201408ft_BU0 (-),
201408ft_THE (-),
201408ft_DEE (-),
201604ft_RBU (-)

Fifth Third

201603ft_LUM (-),
201701ft_BEW (#),

First Convenience Bank (First National Bank Texas)

201506ft_UA_ (-),

First Merit

Acquired by Huntington Bank
201411ft_SPO (-)

First Tech Federal Credit Union

201705mpdVIN (-), 

HSBC

201611redWIL (#),

Huntington Bank

201602ft_LUM (-)
201612redDUK (-),
201706ft_CDO (-),

Keybank

201602ft_LUM (-),
201605ft_CDO (-),
201701redCOO (?),
201710docGON (+) 

M&T Bank

201706ft_SAN (-),
201710docDAN (+) 

Mountain America Credit Union

201611redBER (?),

Nationwide Bank

201606ft_1PE (-)

Navy Federal Credit Union (NFCU)

201710docJED (+)

Northpointe Bank

201612ft_PER (#)

NRL (Naval Research Lab) FCU

Methods of Deposit

Mobile Deposit [201710docBOB]
ATM Deposit (Partner) [201710docBOB]

PenFed

201702ft_DIS (+),

PNC

201406ft_RAM (+),
201506ft_ILG (-),
201605ft_NUC (-),
201706redDUK (+),
201706redMIN (+), 
201706redSON (+),
201707redKRN (+), 
201709redITR (+),
201709redBUB (+),
201710redMEL (-),
201801redITR (-)

Methods of Deposit

ATM Deposit [201710docBOB]

Popular Community Bank

201604ft_JEV (-)

Regions

Methods of Deposit

ATM Deposit [201710docMIM]

Santander

201701redJEF (+),
201706ft_SAN (-),
201710docDAN (+),
201710ft_ATR (#)  

Santa Rosa County Federal Credit Union

201708ft_BAR (-),

Security Service FCU

201401ft_VBC (#),

Service Credit Union

201710docGON (+)

Simple

201602ft_CHU (-),
201611redJAM (-),
201701ft_OOP (-),
201703ft_RAC (#),
201710redNEG (-) 

Star One CU

201706ft_THE (-),
201710redPHO (?)

State Farm Bank

201502ft_TRA (+),
201605ft_WHO (-),

SunTrust

201407ft_US1 (-),
201505ft_SPO (#),
201702ft_TAK (-),
201704ft_RAM (-), 
201707redASB (#),
201710docRIC (-), 

Talmer Bank

Acquired by Chemical Bank
201604ft_ALE (-),
201604ft_SHA (-)

TCF Bank

201612ft_PWD (+), 

TD Bank

201703ft_SCH (-),
201704redSOC (?),
201710docDAN (+),
201710docAL_ (+) 

TIAA DIRECT

201409ft_SPO (-),
201409ft_SIL (-),
201409ft_TRO (-),
201710docCUR (-)

UFB Direct

201609ft_FRE (-),
201612redHII (-),
201703ft_SKY (-),
201707ft_BRO (-),
201711ft_PAN (-)  

US Bank

201401savMAT (-), 
201406ft_FRE (-), 201406ft_FRE (-)
201601mpdVIN (-),
201710redTHR (#),

USAA

201403ft_BRE (#),
201508ft_PHA (+),
201606ft_BAR (-),
201606ft_COO (-),
201606ft_MIA (-),
201606ft_DIS (+),
201606ft_POI (+),
201606ft_ANI (?),
201606ft_FUM (+),
201608ft_DEA (#),
201609ft_COR (#),
201610pepARN (-),
201611redART (?),
201611redCHA (-),
201702ft_BOD (?),
201705ft_TCO (+),
201707redDES (?),
201710redSCO (-),
201710redMAS (-)

Wells Fargo

201401savMAT (-),
201408ft_ITC (-),
201510redIMS (-),
201606ft_LAN (+),
201607mpdVIN (-),
201610ft_HII (+), 
201612redCRE (+),
201702ft_BOD (+),
201703ft_LUM (#),
201703ft_SUP (+),
201703ft_EXP (+),
201703ft_ALO (-),
201703ft_FRA (?),
201703ft_CAR (+),
201704ft_DEA (+), 
201707redEAG (+),
201710docLEO (+),
201710docMSE (+),
201710docJEF (+),
201710docBRA (+),
201710redTEE (?),    

Warnings

(In addition to all the standard disclaimers,) this resource is incomplete and filled with errors.

It is an attempt to summarize and categorize rules inferred from community data points.

Final Notes

Please consider sharing your data points and/or ideas on this topic to help make this page a better community resource.

All the best!

 

 

 

 



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79 Comments on "Money Order Sensitivity"

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Gonzohawk
Gonzohawk

Got damn! It must have taken a ridiculous amount of hours to compile these DPs. Unfortunately, I don’t know how reliable you can consider DPs from 2014. Kudos on the hard work nonetheless!

I’ll add a couple more DPs for you:

KeyBank: USPS MOs via Mobile Deposit ($4-5k/month)
Service CU: USPS MOs via Mobile Deposit & ATM ($4-5k/month each method)
Ent CU: USPS MOs via Mobile Deposit ($4-5k/month)

BW
BW

Are you purchasing all those MO’s with VGC’s?

Gonzohawk
Gonzohawk

I use an MS method available only to military. If you want to read more about it, I’ve discussed it extensively in r/churning under the same username.

Jed
Jed

I was shut down by Bank Direct and UFB direct for depositing money orders. I’ve deposited 5k or so per month in NFCU for the last few years with no problems.

The Man
The Man

BOA no longer supports mobile MO deposits. You can still deposit MOs at ATM.

Kerry
Kerry

Note that FirstMerit no longer exists… bought by Huntington Bank

stacker
stacker

Anyone have any DPs on Chemical Bank in Michigan? I used FirstMerit as my main bank and last year they merged with Huntington. I would like to switch to a bank or credit union that I don’t use for bonuses. I only deposit about $1000-$1500 MOs per month and I always mix regular checks with the MOs so I don’t just deposit MOs alone.

Ken
Ken

WOW, kudos for compiling this list, as it must have taken forever. Thanks!

JASON
JASON

Just curious, where do people get so many money orders to deposit? Is it mainly from buying money orders with VISA prepaid debit card?

Yet Another Redditor

Yes. Pretty much the definition on MS

T
T

I recently got shut down at Charles Schwab. I’m assuming it was for depositing money orders, but it was fairly low amounts. $5k-$10k a month.

Any chance, in a few years, I could open up another account with them? Any DP on restoring a banking relationship after getting shut down?

SamSimon
SamSimon

(#) – what does hashtag stand for?
(+) – positive ?
(-) – negative ?
thanks

Daniel S
Daniel S

DPs:

TD Bank: USPS MOs via ATM ($4-8k/month) for the past 5 months
MT Bank: USPS MOs via ATM ($3-5k/month) for the past 5 months
Santander: USPS MOs via ATM ($3-5k/month) for the past 5 months

Michael J Nelson
Michael J Nelson

Just tell them you use money orders to transfer money from another bank without an atm fee, its just that simple dont tell them that you churn.

MarcoPolo
MarcoPolo

How are people nuying MO’s in the first place?
IIUC Metabank GC’s are not accepted by USPS or even Walmart.

BW
BW

People are using the simon cards (metabank) at WM so it must be YMMV.

BW
BW

I haven’t done it yet but aren’t there other VGC’s that aren’t metabank?

Curmudgeon
Curmudgeon

My TIAA checking got shut down for mobile depositing money orders then transferring the money out a day or two later.

When I spoke to the rep about it they asked if I was paying credit cards with the money but I was actually wanting to deposit money into a high interest checking account that didn’t have mobile deposit. I told her that since TIAA had mobile deposit and the other bank didn’t, I deposited the money orders with them, then transferred to the high interest checking account via ACH.

They weren’t happy with that response and nuked my account. Was probably a total of $8-9k

Arash
Arash

DP: I have never had any problem depositing money orders into BMO Harris using their mobile deposit option. I have not done really large volumes though. maybe 5 or 6k per month sporadically throughout the month. I have also used a local bank here (Busey Bank) and they have been cool with it too. All of these money orders were bought from USPS.

BW
BW

Which debit cards do you use at USPS?

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