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Gift Cards Finally Go On Sale in Post Offices

A few months ago, there was an announcement that post offices will start selling gift cards in select locations nationwide. This week alone, an estimated 1800 locations are already participating reportedly and they are set to roll out to 3,000 more locations over the next three months.

USPS has teamed up with American Express to run a market trial focused on presenting consumers a different way to purchase cards and retail product, with the goal of bringing in extra revenue. The cards will be available in $25 and $50 amounts as well as a variable $25 to $100 option.

All the cards that will be sold at the USPS locations are “open loop” and are the type of cards that are accepted anywhere Credit or Debit cards are accepted. This unlike the specific store gift cards gives consumers a broader variety of spending options and in turn brings in more revenue. The gift cards are also being sold alongside greeting cards – already being sold- to take advantage of both avenues. USPS receives a portion of the purchase fee for the cards: $3.95 for the $25 card, rising to $5.95 for the variable-denomination card.

USPS plans to run this market trial for up to two years to test out the sale of gift cards. During the trial period, USPS will try out different price structures and can expand the test to include vendors other than American Express, which is just the first company to join the program.

In the US, the gift card market is thought to be worth around $86bn/year and for American Express is $1billion/year. First data reported that popularity of gift cards are rising again following a decline due to the recession. According to the National Retail Federation, gift cards are the most requested gifts among American adults in the last 4 years.

Post Office Locations That Sell Gift Cards

As you may be aware, the post office will begin selling gift cards in May 2011. Check out this post for more details. To start, only 2,000 locations will sell gift cards. They will add more locations in October 2011. We will provide information on which offices will be carrying the gift cards as they become available to be sure to check back here for a complete list.

Gift Card Fraud & Scams Series – Part II

Gift Cards Stolen from the Mail at the Post Office

In case you have not been following this series on Gift Card Fraud and Scams, Part I of the series, which was posted last week, talks about secret credit card recording and how that is used to perpetuate gift card fraud. Today’s post will focus on gift card fraud at the post office.

I posted this article back in march 2008 – Gift Card Alert: USPS may have lost the gift card you mailed alerting readers about the need to properly package gift cards before they mail them since it appears gift cards are being lost at the post office due to improper packaging.

While the post office places the blame for missing gift cards on customers, it appears a few bad apples among the post office employees are taking advantage of the situation and may be going as far as stealing gift cards from mail that may have been properly packaged.

A recent arrest of a McAllen, TX postal worker for stealing gift cards from the mail got me curious. I did a quick search on Google news and came up with similar post office arrests over the last year or so, including the following:

April 24, 2008 – Charlottesville, VA (A Postal worker pleads guilty to stealing mail that contained money and gift cards)

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