Posted by Don L on October 23, 2017
Checking Accounts

Published on October 23rd, 2017 | by Don L

78

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 (-),

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 (-)

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!

 

 

 

 



78 Responses to Money Order Sensitivity

  1. Gonzohawk says:

    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)

  2. Jed says:

    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.

  3. The Man says:

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

  4. Kerry says:

    Note that FirstMerit no longer exists… bought by Huntington Bank

  5. stacker says:

    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.

  6. Ken says:

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

    • Don L says:

      Thanks, Ken

      It took a while, but I figured it might help others from having to invest time doing similar surveys. Free up their time for scouting out new deals and the fun elements of the hobby.

  7. JASON says:

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

  8. T says:

    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?

  9. SamSimon says:

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

    • Don L says:

      SamSimon,

      Thanks, my oversight I’ll clean that up above.

      But, yes, generally:

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

  10. Daniel S says:

    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

  11. Michael J Nelson says:

    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.

  12. Don L says:

    Curious if anyone had thoughts on the variables of form of deposit (mobile, atm, teller) and form of withdrawal (transfer, bill pay)?

    Some evidence that mobile deposits [https://www.ffiec.gov/pdf/pr011409_rdc_guidance.pdf] and transfers (over bill pay [with the layering potential]) might be seen as riskier transactions from a bank’s perspective.

    We decided it was not ready for the post (but I might try to look at it in a better way in the future)

  13. MarcoPolo says:

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

  14. Curmudgeon says:

    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

  15. Arash says:

    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.

  16. Al says:

    How are people scaling MO purchases? Walmart allows only 2 swipes per MO – so that’s only $399.30 for 2 x $200 VGCs from Office Depot.

    • BW says:

      Simon Mall sells $500 cards so $1000 per MO, if somebody takes them.

    • banananon says:

      Walmart is YMMV. Officially it’s 4 swipes per tx.

      Even at 2 swipes you could still do $30K a month.

    • Rick says:

      Scale slowly at your local. All three of mine in town don’t like what I am doing. I usually do two swipes, but four is the hardcoded max. I will go four if the cashier looks like she is in a good mood or they know exactly what I am doing by telling me out loud. Lucky me, I hit up 100+ WMs in the past five years when I go to races and most places don’t have a simon within two hours drive I have been to. These faraway places will let me do 1K no problem since they don’t have ppl running in there with gcs every day bringing awareness to our game, so don’t assume they know what you are doing! I have found places within one hour of simons will either think you are a crazy fraudster or the coolest person in line

      • stacker says:

        The local WMs will let me buy MOs all day with 1 swipe. If I request to make a split payment they want to see the cards. Same with Meijer. I never request split payments anymore. This is just a hobby, so I’m ok with it.

        • stacker says:

          I should have been more specific but no edit option. If I buy over $3000 they would probably file a SAR, however I have never bought that much. Mostly under a $1000. The point is there way less problems when I don’t request split payments.

      • BW says:

        You can buy the Simon cards online and shipping is only 50 cents.

        • Ken says:

          @BW – What bank issues them? Can you liquidate at WM/Kroger/USPS? Do they ship UPS or Fedex? Any limits?

          • BW says:

            Ken – there is no bank name on them, just says Simon gift card. Limit is $500 per card and you can purchase up to 10 for $0.50 shipping total. I haven’t tried to purchase MO’s yet but from others here it looks like WM takes them YMMV though, not sure if USPS accepts them. They ship standard mail unless you pay upcharge for UPS. Google simon mall gift cards.

          • Ken says:

            @BW – Thanks. Found the FT thread. turns out Simon uses GCM which I’m already banned from. On to the next thing.

          • BW says:

            Ken, What is GCM? How are you banned from buying cards?

          • Ken says:

            Gift Card Mall. Your guess is as good as mine. I had 2 orders from them years ago and then orders would cancelled and then simply wouldn’t go through. I still try every few months and it still doesn’t work. Many people are banned and nobody seems to know why. BTW, those Simon cards are issued by Metabank.

          • SamSimon says:

            Hey, Ken, how Gift Card Mall (the website?) associated with Simon gift cards? AS you stated Simon gift card are Metabank, Metabank is Gift Card Mall? thanks

          • BW says:

            I think when you buy simon cards online it’s through GCM so people can have problems getting banned. When you buy simon cards in person it’s different, no body ever gets banned and people buy up to 10K a day worth (daily limit).

  17. Terri Clark says:

    As always, very helpful post DOC, Thanks!

  18. Great post Don, thanks for putting so much work into this!

  19. Just a Note says:

    I have historically not been able to deposit money orders via the Bank of America app, but I did recently (about two months ago) without an issue. I don’t do it often, but figured I would try and it went through without a problem. This was to a business account, but I suspect it would work on any account.

  20. AL says:

    I routinely do 7-8k a month at TD. 2.5k 3 times a month.

    • Don L says:

      Thanks, Chuck, appreciate the DP

      Gonzohawk just beat you on the report.

      It’s a nice DP, good details. Thanks for the help, I haven’t been able to keep up with all the feeds.

  21. Brandon says:

    DP: wells fargo, never had an issue despite somewhere between 25-35k MO money order deposits per month. About Half ATM, half teller.

  22. bob says:

    Connexus CU will accept MO’s thru partner-ATM deposits (envelope deposits) but their mobile app lists MO’s among the “ineligible for mobile deposit” items.

    BMO Harris accepts MO’s thru Mobile Deposit, i haven’t tried the ATM. PNC works at the ATM, but i’ve been warned off trying mobile deposit.

    NRL FCU mobile deposit works, as does partner-ATM deposits.

    Blue FCU works at the ATM, dunno about mobile.

  23. Mimi says:

    DP: Regions Bank works well using ATM for MO deposits.

    btw, to add to the discussion, many are saying that maintaining good relationship with the tellers at their FI works well for them to deposit several thousands a day/week/month. While I agree wholeheartedly that maintaining good rapport with all people we encounter in this ‘game’ is vital, we have to understand that if the risk management department of the FI scrutinizes one’s account and they do not like what you’re doing, they can either give you a call and ask about your MO deposits or outright close your account. If you’re lucky to get a courtesy call from them and they’re satisfied with your answers, you can continue with your activities; if not, they can close your account and the branch manager CANNOT override their decision.

  24. Don L says:

    Added a few new DPs for WF, Schwab, and UFB

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *. Please do not share your referral links/codes unless the post specifically states it's allowed. If the post states it is allowed please follow the rules carefully. If you'd like an image next to your comments please create a gravatar. Most of all please be kind and respectful to each other. 

Back to Top ↑