Why You Shouldn’t Tip Your Mail Carrier in Cash

It might seem rude not to slip them some green for the holidays, but there's a very good reason to avoid monetary gifts.

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Who doesn’t enjoy being handed an envelope of cash, even in the smallest of denominations? We’re going to go with a simple answer: no one. So it stands to reason that around the holidays or on a special occasion, you might want to tip your mail carrier with a little of that almighty green paper as a way to say thank you for their hard work (which they do through snow, rain, heat, and gloom of night, mind you). But here’s the thing—you shouldn’t do it.

Cash conundrum

No, we’re not trying to be mean or stingy. We’re just trying to prevent anyone from breaking the law. That’s right: Gifting your mail carrier cash or cash equivalents goes against the rules set forth by the Standards of Ethical Conduct for Employees of the Exec­utive Branch of the USPS. By accepting a cash tip, no matter how small, your mail carrier could actually find themselves in a lot of trouble. They could lose their job or even be fined far more than the amount they accepted. This would essentially mean that your good deed had an adverse effect. Nobody wants that. These are 23 things your mail carrier likely won’t tell you.

Follow the rules

When you can’t give cash, gift cards, or anything that acts as money, there are other ways to say thank you to your mail carrier. But there’s another rule to keep in mind: The gift cannot be worth more than $20 per occasion. And if you find yourself in the gifting spirit more than once during the year, the USPS points out that no mail carrier can accept gifts amounting to more than $50 from one customer in a calendar year. The takeaway: Don’t go crazy, just gift smart. By the way, this is what your postal carrier knows about you, just by delivering your mail.

Acceptable gifts

So, what do you get the person who you might see every single day (save Sunday), but don’t actually know all that well? A mail carrier care package is always a nice idea. You can fill a small bag with items that can provide a source of comfort when they’re going about their daily route. Consider things like prepackaged snacks, such as granola bars, disposable hand warmers, or a small first-aid kit. Just make sure the total amount of your offerings doesn’t exceed $20. Then there are also singular gifts that would cheer up any mail carrier that fall within the imposed budget, like a leakproof reusable water bottle, wireless earbuds, or warm gloves. Want to know more about your mail carrier? You won’t believe these unusual things they see pretty much every day.

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