Square starts offering gift cards (the plastic kind)

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Credit: Square

As virtual wallets and NFC payments start taking off, Square hasn’t given up on the plastic card. In fact, it’s doubling down on its commitment to acetate and magnetic stripes, announcing a new program on Tuesday in which its merchants can issue their own gift cards.

Square has supported stored-value cards before, but those were virtual cards, requiring the now-defunct Square Wallet (or a bar code print-out) to redeem them. Meanwhile, these newest gift cards work just like the ones you’d buy from Target or Best Buy. Merchants can order them from their Square dashboards, customizing their appearance with their own logos and design. When a customer purchases a card, the value is deposited directly into the merchant’s account.

While Square isn’t charging its normal 2.75 percent transaction fee on any gift card transaction, activating a card costs $1.50 a pop, so it’s probably not worth your while to start passing out $5 coffee cards. Square, however, said it will let merchants load any value into a card up to the legal limit of $1,000, and they are rechargable so customers can keep adding value to the cards if they choose.

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