US Postal Service to sell gift cards
The 2-year test run will begin in June in about 2,000 post offices.
This guest post comes from Gift Card Granny.
You know the U.S. Postal Service is in pretty mean straits when they start selling gift cards.
Actually, this may not be a bad idea for the cash-strapped agency. With prepaid gift cards one of the most popular gift items, it makes sense that postal officials would want to cash in on this trend. Plus, it allows the agency to target a desirable audience and encourage use of snail mail (a term the USPS prefers we not use).
For example, you could send an Internet-phobic friend or relative a gift card to buy stamps for their personal mail. Since you can buy stamps through the mail or order them online, it would particularly help shut-ins. The cards also would make good presents for those who send lots of holiday cards and thank-you notes.
But they'll be good for more than that. The gift cards to be offered are known as "open loop" cards, which consumers can use with any business that accepts cards from the issuing company, which will include MasterCard and Visa. The agency also is considering offering "closed loop" cards, which are specific to a single merchant. Plans for this option have not yet been solidified. Post continues after video.
The sales plan was approved last month on a test basis by the independent Postal Regulatory Commission. It allows the USPS to run a two-year test beginning in June and involving about 2,000 post offices. The cards will be issued by such companies as American Express, Discover, MasterCard or Visa for fixed amounts of $20 and $50.
Variable-value cards also will be available, in which the buyer can designate the total they'd like loaded on to the card, in amounts between $25 and $100. The agency will charge a fee of $4.95 for a fixed-amount card and $5.95 for variable cards.
Cards will only be available from postal clerks, so purchasers will have to make their way to a USPS outlet. If all goes as planned, the Postal Service will expand the program to include several thousand more offices.
More on Gift Card Granny and MSN Money:
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