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The post office is more than just a place to purchase stamps and send packages. From the slew of services it offers to the many ways it gives back to the community, there’s a lot you may not know about this nearly 250-year-old institution.
Take the services it offers beyond delivering mail and hawking Forever stamps. It brought in $77 billion in operating revenue last year and has 233,171 delivery routes across the U.S. Its menu of offerings, including these five, may surprise you.
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1. Passports: Need a passport for a holiday trip or business travel? Your post office can help. Thousands of post offices across the country accept first-time passport applications. Most of the locations will even take the passport photo for you. How’s that for one-stop shopping?
2. Money orders: Banks, convenience stores and check-cashing outlets aren’t the only places to get money orders. The post office also offers them at an affordable rate. A bonus: They never expire. A $100 money order at a convenience store can cost as much as $2.99. At the post office, it's $1.65.
3. Informed delivery: The Postal Service is high tech, offering customers the ability to preview incoming mail, leave delivery instructions and track mail on a smartphone or computer — all for free. You’ll never be left wondering if the check is really in the mail or out for delivery.
4. E-commerce: There’s lots you can do online with the Postal Service, whether you want to buy gear or merchandise like shirts, toys, holiday ornaments or artwork, or order stamps and packaging supplies to be delivered free to your home. The USPS Click-N-Ship service lets you print postage and arrange mail pickup without leaving your home.
5. Banking: The Postal Service is piloting a program in select post offices that enables customers to cash payroll and business checks up to $500 for a flat fee of $5.95. For now you have to live near Washington, D.C., Falls Church, Virginia, or the Bronx, New York, to cash checks. If the pilots go well, the service could come to more post offices around the country. Other potential banking services on the list for the future include the ability to pay bills, deposit and withdraw cash, and send money to other post offices.