Last week, Miles Per Day shared a US Post Office memo, directing staff to stop accepting Visa gift cards for money order purchases. A few readers have reached out to me since, slightly panicked about this latest dead deal. But…is it really dead? The memo states, “If a clerk is able to confirm that the customer is using gift cards for the purchase of Postal Money Orders, they will need to stop the sale.” Straightforward enough, right? Except, some post office clerks won’t bother checking cards. They may not even hear about this memo or will outright forget/ignore it. The only way I’d be really worried was if they hard-coded the registers, which they haven’t. Yet. But even if they did, there would be plenty of alternatives for folks worried about losing a valuable gift card liquidating source. (Update: As of 11/3 UPS Stores have hard-coded their registers to reject Visa gift cards for money order purchases.)
1. Go elsewhere. There are plenty of places to buy money orders with a gift card. The post office isn’t even the cheapest option. Not everyone has an MS-friendly Walmart nearby – I get that. But there are tons of other places where you can buy money orders. There’s K-Mart, Kroger’s, and Quick Stop gas stations (sometimes called Kwiq Stop). I realize a lot of folks were using the US post office to liquidate Vanilla Visa gift cards, which don’t work at Walmart. There are even more alternatives if that’s the case…
2. Buy Metabank Visa gift cards. If going to the post office to liquidate Vanilla Visa gift cards isn’t an option, then consider switching to Metabank Visa gift cards. These can be liquidated virtually anywhere, at a cheaper cost. You can buy Metabank Visa gift cards at giftcards.com and local malls, to name a few. If you buy them from giftcards.com using a cash back portal, you can even eliminate a significant portion of the cost. Liquidating them is also simple – I go to Walmart. Some of you might favor grocery stores or K-Mart.
If all you have is the post office, then you might still get away with buying money orders with a Metabank Visa gift card. How? You can add your name to the ones issued by giftcards.com. Post office clerks might look at the name on the card and decide that’s all they need to approve the sale.
3. Churn merchant gift cards. f you have no other options for buying money orders, then consider merchant gift card churning instead. It’s really the perfect time to start, since the holidays are just around the corner and many merchants will be offering gift cards at a significant discount. You can buy gift cards online, provide the card number to The Plastic Merchant or whoever else you choose to sell to, then get the funds deposited into your bank account. It’s much easier than running around town, buying gift cards, money orders, depositing them, and then worrying about account shut-downs.
That’s my take on the US Post Office money order news. It’s unfortunate for people who depended on this for their gift card churning routine, but there are other options available. In fact, I’m not convinced this is truly over. The US Post Office is, after all, a government institution and we all know how well they run. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if post office clerks were slow to implement this Or not at all. Either way, there’s nothing we can do about it except move forward and find another way.
Does the Post Office’s new policy on rejecting gift cards for money order purchases affect you at all? How do you plan to cope with this new policy?