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Customer Support Ruling


Charge Card Advertisements Nonprofit Standard Mail
UPDATED January 2006

PS-257 (703.1.6)

This Customer Support Ruling discusses the eligibility of a charge card advertisement in copies of a circular mailed to members of an organization at the Nonprofit Standard Mail (nonprofit) rates of postage.

Domestic Mail Manual (DMM) 703.1.6.4 provides that nonprofit rates shall not be used for the entry of material that advertises, promotes, offers, or for a fee or consideration, recommends, describes, or announces the availability of any credit, debit, charge card, or similar financial instrument or account, provided by or through an arrangement with any person or organization not authorized to mail at the nonprofit rates at the entry post office.

DMM 703.1.6.7 prescribes that an authorized nonprofit organization's material will not be disqualified from being mailed at the nonprofit rates solely because that material contains, but is not primarily devoted to:

a.   acknowledgments of organizations or individuals who have made donations to the authorized organization; or

b.   [in part] references to and a response card or other instructions for making inquiries concerning services or benefits available as a result of membership in the authorized organization, provided that advertising, promotional, or application materials specifically concerning such services or benefits are not included.

In the case under discussion, the circular announces the availability of a new benefit for the members of a particular nonprofit organization.  Specifically, the new benefit is a charge card.  The circular briefly describes the card and the benefits it provides—e.g., “a 13.5% interest rate, with no annual fee for six months.”  It also directs members to call either a toll-free or local telephone number to obtain additional information regarding the new card.

Under the provisions of DMM 703.1.6, the circular to be mailed at the nonprofit rates could contain an announcement of the availability of the new charge card and provide guidance for getting additional information regarding the new benefit, such as by calling toll-free and local telephone numbers, as long as the circular does not include promotional material for the charge card.  However, the circular in question contains promotional material that describes not only the availability of the card, but also its benefits (“a 13.5% interest rate, with no annual fee for six months”).  Therefore, the circular constitutes promotional material prohibited from being mailed at the nonprofit rates of postage under DMM 703.1.6.4.  This means that the circular would be subject to the Regular Standard Mail rates of postage.

Sherry Suggs
Mailing Standards
United States Postal Service
Washington DC 20260-3436