31 Oct. 2019

The Down->Low

I’ve written a bit about some of the rumored changes coming to Walmart (WM) MoneyCenters via MoneyGram (MG), and it’s looking ominous.  As a quick recap of possible changes coming to a MoneyCenter near you:

  • November 1 – this is the date that’s been bantered about for significant MoneyGram changes inside Walmart MoneyCenters affecting money orders (and manufactured spend).
  • Mandatory ID required for money orders over $100 – a Walmart MoneyCenter cashier confirmed to me today that there was mention of an ID requirement for money orders.  She wasn’t sure if that meant that WM must enter people’s information into the KYC (Know Your Customer) database or not.  Right now it seems likely that ID entry for money orders over $100 would be optional, which seems odd because at any point in the money order process, a cashier can trigger an MSAR (suspicious activity report) that will prompt more information to be entered into the system.  Until every drivers license/ID is able to be scanned (instead of entered manually), it seems like a stretch at this point that every money order over $100 that Walmart sells would require ID.  That’s not to say it won’t happen, I’d bet against it, at least in the near term.
  • $8,000 money order limit per 30 day rolling period – there has been confirmation about this being mentioned in CBL (ongoing Walmart employee training) verbiage.  I’m not sure if this will be implemented fully across every store nationwide on November 1, but I’d guess that at some point in November it will be.
  • Single payment source for money orders; no more multiple swipes – no confirmation that I’m aware of that this is true; likely just rumor at this point.
  • Acknowledgement and possibly record of what money order is for or who it’s for – a statement/opinion from a Walmart employee at a store that a friend of mine visits regularly (out of state).  I haven’t seen or heard proof of it, but offhand it seems a bit weak and fairly irrelevant.  I guess if MoneyGram is going full throttle on information capture and requiring ID for money orders over $100 then this makes more sense, as it could be another piece of information that’s captured.  Still, it seems pointless as nearly any answer could be given without being able to be verified.
  • Increased money order fees at some locations – I think there is some credibility to this, although I don’t think it will happen nationwide.  Many people don’t know that money order fees at Walmart nationwide are not uniform.  In other words, not all Walmarts charge $0.88 per money order.  An increase in MO fees is the least of my concerns in this rumor list.

I assume that significant negative changes are coming to MoneyGram and soon.  I’d guess sometime in November, but I can’t say for sure when that might be. Basically I’m prepping for a much different manufactured spend landscape; one that is much less lenient and friendly to the masses.  As a small positive though, many Walmart employees that I’ve talked with haven’t seen or don’t know of, any new changes coming to their store.  That could be because they haven’t had any new training recently, have overlooked something, or that it just isn’t happening….yet.  On the flip side, there is plenty of speculation and even confirmation that changes are coming.

Deep Breathes

If people are still allowed to do singles, or money orders up to $1,000 without ID, then for many that frequent MS “friendly” stores, large volume is still very possible.  Many Walmarts around the country still allow multiple MO’s (multiple transactions) without ID, as long as the amount is at or under $1,000.   There’s also still many markets that have grocery store money order liquidation, which is generally more expensive, but still produces the desired results.  Neither of those scenarios is the case in my market any longer, but in others, it’s still quite open.  Some people have been wishing that something like this would happen, to shrink the MS market and have less people involved in it.  Well it looks like they may get their wish!  

I’m prepping for small ball; or just plain doing less manufactured spend.  What that will look like and how much that will be, I have no idea yet.

End Times

Less manufactured spend seems like a terrible proposition, but it’s not all bad.  More time on my hands, likely less chance of bank shutdowns, and still the opportunity to earn rewards, just on a smaller scale.  I always think about people in other countries that don’t have the opportunity to manufacture spend for points, miles or rewards, or sign up for lucrative credit cards like we have here in our country.  Any piece of free or nearly free miles and points is a gift, not a right.  Sure it’s tough to go backwards, but the system that we’ve been operating in over the past 15-20 years is absurd.  Banks, airlines, and hotels have been trying to dial back their mistakes and these changes are just another example of the flaws in the system.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy to exploit the flaws in the system and reap what I can, but the system itself is deeply flawed.

Anyway, my fingers are crossed that tomorrow, November 1, doesn’t turn out to be just plain horrible and that any changes from Moneygram are minor.  Those changes that do take effect, hopefully will be rolled out incrementally at different times and different locations.  Whatever happens, it will be interesting to see and hear about.  Feel free to drop me a line or post about your experiences.

Update 11/1/19 – I visited several WM’s in my area and there were no changes.  Thankfully, it was business as usual.  Hope that lasts.

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