The U.S. Postal Service quietly announced last week that it will offer a new product: Gift cards. Possibly beginning as early as May, consumers will be able to buy gift cards at 2,000 post offices around the country.
As a sign that the post office still lags a tad behind the times, its notice to the Postal Regulatory Commission labels gift cards an “experimental product.” That’s a little funny, since gift cards were only “the most requested holiday gift this year,” requested by 57% of Americans, according to the National Retail Federation.
The first iteration of the cards will be “open loop” which means they can be used for more than just postage. The cards will be accepted wherever Visa, MasterCard or American Express cards are taken–which means basically everywhere.
Some questions remain unanswered about the details of postal gift cards. The postal service still has to decide whether the cards it sells will be branded with postage-related images, or if they’ll have more generic labels belonging to the issuing bank. The post office will issue some cards with fixed denominations of $25 and $50, and other cards with variable amounts decided by consumers as they buy them, to figure out which kind is more popular.
The cards will start off with activation fees of $3.95 for a $25 card, $4.95 for a $50 card and $5.95 for a variable card.
Image by Chapendra, via Flickr