Sending holiday cards to friends and family has long been a tradition that continues today even though more innovative (and cheaper) ways to reach out exist, such as through email and with e-cards. In October, Apple confirmed that sending real greeting cards remains popular, as the world’s largest tech company introduced its free Cards app for the iPhone/iPod touch.

The app has a basic premise; choose from a variety of cards, add a photo , and then let Apple deliver the finished product in 3-4 days. For this, Apple charges $2.99 for U.S. delivery or $4.99 anywhere in the world, which includes postage.

Since I consider myself technical savvy and also enjoy sending Christmas cards, I looked forward to using the Cards app this season to send a few of my cards. I did earlier this week, with an interesting result.

Cards app

First, let it be said that the Cards app looks impressive, both in its design and simplicity. Sending a card is as painless as selecting your card from one of 21 template designs and adding a photo and text. From there, you can either select an address for your recipient from your Contacts app or add the address manually. As an added bonus, Apple verifies the address before the order is placed. Finally, click on the button that says $2.99/$4.99, and your card will ship within 1-2 days.

In total, I used the Cards app to send seven cards. I did so, one after the other. The first time I was asked to confirm my Apple ID and the three-digit security code from my bankcard. Each subsequent time, I had to reenter my Apple ID. My total bill for the seven cards was $20.93 plus tax.

Then, I went to lunch.

When it was time to pay for my steak salad at the local Longhorn restaurant, I gave my server the same bankcard used to buy the Christmas cards. Imagine my embarrassment when I was told the card was declined. A quick look at my bank’s iPhone app confirmed that I had money available to purchase the $10.99 salad.

In the end, the bank was contacted and my account was unlocked after some verification. Apple doesn’t “hold” transactions when customers use the Cards app, as it does with other iTunes transactions. My account had been frozen as a security measure by the bank because of 14 small and “suspicious” transactions. Apple had verified my account each time a card was purchased ($1 per card), and also charged the account seven times at $3.17 a pop, all in a short period of time.

Lots of Transactions

Keep this in mind when using the Cards app, as it could ruin your lunch. As for my cards, they should arrive to my friends early next week.