The USPS Epidemic Sweeps The Nation

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USPS Now Auto Declines Gift Cards

USPS Now Auto Declines Gift Cards

Yesterday Vinh at Miles per Day broke the news that the United States Postal Service (USPS) had sent out a memo warning about gift card use for money orders. It was an explicit memo that said USPS workers were to stop anyone from using gift cards going forward.  It stated that all cards must have the person’s name on them and to be extra cautious if it did not have a chip. The memo also said an update would be coming out stopping gift cards at the point of sale (POS).  Essentially the system would do the job soon enough.

Since this is a government run operation everyone thought this would take a while to roll out. Well the government was super efficient this time around and the wildfire spread nationwide.  The POS system is now rejecting gift cards.

Data Points

I bought a Vanilla Visa last night at CVS to try to punch through another money order or two.  I only purchased one in case there were issues during conversion.  My plan was to buy more once I confirmed it still worked.

When I went to the post office the employee did not ask to see the card and I thought great, business as usual. When I did the swipe I was informed that I could not use a credit card.  My heart sank since I knew I was dead in the water at that point.  I said it was a debit card and did another swipe out of good measure but the inevitable happened…denied again.

I then turned to our Facebook group looking for similar data points and got a few confirming the same thing in other areas.  Then DDG alerted me to this post on Reddit and I knew it had spread nation wide.  They must have run a system update/patch last night since people were reporting success yesterday.


I guess when you count on the government’s inefficiency it ends up burning you. The one time I wish they took their sweet time rolling something out they do it with lightning quickness.  The USPS should have some shorter lines going forward at least.

As the avenues for increasing spend continue to dry up we need to be more diligent and more creative.  As a door closes a window usually opens. The question remains what window will it be?  Oh, and figuring out how I want to drain this $500 gift card now…



Mark Ostermann
Mark Ostermann is a father, husband and miles/points fanatic. He left the corporate world after starting a family in order to be a stay at home dad. Mark is constantly looking at ways to save money and stay within budget while also taking awesome vacations with his family. When he isn't caring for his family or taking a weekend trip, Mark is working towards his goal of visiting every Major League Baseball ballpark.

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  1. There are reports saying their “real bank debit card” worked. If this is true, I’m inclined to believe that this is a well planned upgrade that took careful study before nationwide implementation. The USPS’ reputation as to its efficiency may be a strong factor that’s why many ignored it as part of YMMV and thought they can always rely on their clerks with whom they have developed rapport. When the hammer fell, it was too late for those who were so complacent to buy up to $20K worth of VGCs since their tried and tested method just fell apart.

    This incident ought to be reminder to all MSers to have not just one, but at least two back up plans, before they start buying GCs in volume or else they may find themselves in dire situations where they can’t turn those plastics to cash. Best not to rely on others as well and find our own methods now knowing most people to be tight lipped on MS methods that are still working for them.

  2. Give me a break Michael? Do you really think merchants would sell an item they are losing big money on. And as far as the USPS goes they are one of the most inefficient and arrogant agencies out there. If only UPS would start delivering my regular mail I would never have to deal with the USPS again.

    • Yep getting a letter delivered to anywhere in the u.s. in three days or less for under 50 cents is inefficient.

      If you ever got your wish about UPS, all that mail would cost a lot more, especially to rural areas (if you do any shipping yourself, you should know that UPS charges much more to ship to rural areas which is something the USPS is not allowed to do).

      • Sure, by itself that sounds like they are efficient. Now add the fact that they can’t and haven’t shown positive returns for years and have net losses of over a billion every year. Still efficient? No.

        • If Congress would take the recommendations of the Postmaster General and stop putting on ridiculous restrictions, profitability would improve dramatically.
          Amazon is efficient in getting crap to us in two days, but they lose a ton of money doing it. Two types of efficiency being discussed.

    • I don’t see any Tio payees that I could utilize other than possibly Ally Financial. Does anybody know if a Tio payment could be made to an Ally Bank savings account?

      • Shoot, I see Sallie Mae, so I wonder if they’re the same as Navient if the address matches up. If so, I sure as heck could utilize those for payments.

    • I do Walmart too but it was nice to have options. Also Vanillas don’t work at Walmart and those were easy to get 5x on with Freedom quarters etc.

  3. What a mighty fall! I am amazed when ppl play the game and can’t figure out how to liquidate measly $500 with fake concerns.

  4. Lots of gratuitous digs at the government in this post. Maybe you should stop developing opinions of the government based on what you are told on Fox News.

    • John if you think the Government usually moves quickly or efficiently then I have a bridge to sell ya. I was poking some fun – don’t take life so seriously. Enjoy your weekend!

      • IMO this software upgrade has been planned for a long time and initially implemented on the 2nd and fully implemented nationwide yesterday. I’ve read some hints about it here and there but I ignored it thinking it may take a while to get enforced and I’m so used to YMMV. I thought that if you have established good rapport with a clerk, they’ll allow you to swipe your VGCs. Sad to say, I am wrong and the inevitable happened 🙁

        Hopefully a window of opportunity opens soon like the completion of Incomm taking over Amex prepaids and they remove a lot of us from their blacklist.

        • Great info Ma Barker…I also thought it would take a while. I would love a reprieve in the near feature but my hopes are not high :(.

          Thanks for the comment

    • There is nothing political in this post. By the way, have you ever been to a post office? They certainly are anything but efficient in my admittedly personal experience.

      • Have to jump in here and defend the P.O. Though undoubtedly YMMV, my experience has been terrific. My business involves a lot of packing and shipping, doing RA and mostly organic spend to meet bonuses. I send 90% of my packages through U.S.P.S. and would choose them over the competition even if they weren’t usually the cheapest option. As with any union employees, there will be some folks who could care less about your business, knowing they are protected.

  5. As I don’t MS, I can’t help but be happy about this, aside from the schadenfreude. First, reducing fraud is a good thing. Second, with MSers no longer making the signup bonuses and bonus categories less lucrative for the banks, perhaps now we will see better offers available.

    • I doubt it – there are still a ton of MS avenues and sign ups have been as high as they have ever been lately. I don’t think it is hurting anyone. If anything the bank rules against churning will affect it way more than any MS sanctions ever would.

  6. Mark a I stated before this scheme costs the merchants that sell the GC heavily in merchant fees. Also this is exactly what criminals do to launder money. Manufactured spend like this is a huge scam that all the rest of us pay for in higher product costs. It also causes the credit card companies to put more and more restrictions on earning points/miles or real spend.

    • I doubt the merchants are losing money selling gift cards otherwise they wouldn’t be selling them everywhere. I am sure they get a kick back from Visa and Mastercard etc. Since those companies are getting swipe fees on the purchase and when the card is used. Not to mention the breakage and dormant fees they charge.

      I am not sure that the USPS was making any money on this and that is probably one the biggest reasons this ended along with potential fraud concerns.

    • Yeah always a decent option. I will probably try to use it to buy gift cards for resales since PPDG 5x is dead who cares at this point if I use the vanilla. That or organic spend or it I am tired of it I’ll just paypal my wife the money and eat the fee I guess.

      • But how often can you do that with PayPal and not get shut down? That’s my biggest concern with that method.

        • For sure…I do it a couple times a year each way. Usually a last resort or if I am being really lazy.


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