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Charlotte -- The 50 cents is a flat transaction fee charged whenever you purchase PBS money, regardless of the amount you purchase -- so if you choose to purchase PBS money, you should purchase the largest amount with which you feel comfortable in order to minimize the number of transactions. (ETA: This transaction fee was suspended for many months and recently reinstated.)
The 55 cents is the amount you are paying for obtaining PBS printed postage with delivery confirmation (or tracking) -- if you were to obtain delivery confirmation (or tracking) from the Post Office, you would be paying 90 cents. So, if you want tracking, it is less expensive through PBS than through the Post Office -- with the added bonus that you receive Instant Credit as soon as you click "mailed." (PBS printed postage also allows you to drop the package into any blue box and thus is a convenient option if you wish to avoid a trek to the Post Office.)
Some PBS folks think that PBS printed postage is worth the cost for the convenience and guaranteed credit; others do not.
Last Edited on: 3/10/14 8:21 PM ET - Total times edited: 2
The 50 cent fee for the kiosk helps cover the credit card processing fees. The 55 cent fee some goes to the company that runs the online postage; delivery confirmation; and the credit assurance.
FYI: Tracking through the post office is a $1.05 now I think. (I know it is over a $1) It went up with the recent increase.
I use Printable Postage and the fee is worth it to me as it saves me a visit to the post office. I can weigh my books at home and then just drop them in the blue box. I started using it when my post office reduced its hours as it was hard for me to get there.
Another option for printable postage is Paypal as that does not have the fee. But you do not get the credit assurance. I do use this from time to time when my PBS Money runs out and I'm not ready to buy more yet.
Gold Key Members do get one of the .55 charges waived a month. So that is $6.60 a year you save if you are a gold key member.