Gift Cards Edge Out Traditional Gifts

The “8th Annual Coinstar National Currency Poll” for the holidays reveals a strong interest in gift card purchases. Collectively, retailer gift cards/gift certificates and cash/checks now edge out traditional gifts as the most popular presents to receive this season with 47% of those polled desiring gift cards, cash or checks and 40% wanting traditional gifts. When polled for the top reasons behind giving more gift cards or cash for the holidays, respondents favored recipient benefits over shopper convenience. Gift Card benefits to the recipient include: choice in gift selection (62%), avoiding returns (19%), increased post-holiday buying power (14%) and giving what the recipient wants (13%). Cash benefits to recipients include: choice in gift selection (48%), giving what the recipient wants (18%), increased post-holiday buying power (3%) and avoiding returns (2%).

Details

Holiday Payment Card Volume to Rise 12.3%

Americans will likely use general purpose credit/debit cards and store credit cards to charge nearly $135 billion in retail sales this holiday season. While overall spending via all payment means will rise between 5.0% and 7.5%, the figure for payments cards will increase about 12.3% above last year. Signature debit card use is expected to soar by more than 25% while store credit cards will generate fewer sales this year, about 5% less. Credit card volume is running about 11% above last year. Consumers will likely rack up more than $85 billion in holiday sales on VISA, MasterCard, American Express and Discover credit cards. The National Retail Federation says total holiday retail sales are expected to increase 5.5 this year to $457.4 billion. VISA USA estimates overall retail sales (excluding auto sales) for the 2006 holiday season will grow 7.5%. (CF Library 9/21/06; 11/2/06)

Holiday Card Volume
(five weeks ending 12/25)
2004 2005 2006 Gain
Credit: $ 73.6 b $ 77.1 b $ 85.6 b +11.0%
Debit: $ 24.2 b $ 28.2 b $ 35.3 b +25.2%
Store: $ 16.0 b $ 14.7 b $ 13.9 b -5.4%
TOTAL $113.8 b $120.0 b $134.8 b +12.3%
Source: CardData (www.carddata.com)

Details

Cinemark USA to Start Taking Cards Today

TX-based Cinemark USA, which operates 400 theatres and 4,499 screens in 37 states, announced that all of their Century Theatre locations will begin accepting Mastercard and VISA credit cards starting today. All other Cinemark locations do accept credit cards. Cinemark USA, Inc. operates 400 theatres and 4,499 screens currently in 37 states in the United States and internationally in 13 countries, mainly in Mexico, South and Central America.

Details

Exclusive Resorts Offers 1MM AmEx Points

Exclusive Resorts is offering new customers up to one million American Express “Membership Rewards” points for the purchase of the $425,000 “Elite Membership” package which offers up to 45 days of access to hundreds $3 million private residences in dozens of the world’s top destinations. Cardmembers will receive the standard Membership Rewards points with their purchase, and through January 31, 2007, will receive additional bonus Membership Rewards points to their account – for a total of one million points. American Express Company is a diversified worldwide travel, financial and network services company founded in 1850. The Membership Rewards program from American Express has more than 140 redemption partners.

Details

Consumers Prefer General Purpose Gift Cards

A new survey has found that 38% of gift recipients would prefer to receive general purpose cards compared to 25% who prefer store-specific gift cards. The research also found that 57% of all respondents said they would be more likely to purchase a gift card if they could personalize it. Specifically, the ability to select a custom denomination appealed to 31% of respondents. Twenty one percent said they would like to have the recipient’s name embossed directly on the plastic. The second annual “Gift Card Survey” from Discover Card also found that for long-distance giving, gift cards were favored by more than half of the respondents as the gift of choice, while only 31% said they prefer to send a check or cash. When asked how they would use their general purpose gift card, respondents revealed that: 70% would buy something special for themselves; 44% would go out to dinner,; 37% would use gift cards to buy a gift for someone else; 36% would buy groceries or other things they need; and 20% would use general purpose gift cards to pay bills.

Details

Consumers Want More From Their ATM Experience

A new report reveals that 72% of consumers say the use of biometrics with ATMs would create a positive or very positive feeling toward their bank or credit union. The study by Diebold also found 68% think more positively of their financial institution when offered a receipt/no receipt preference. About 41% think more positively of their financial institution when an ATM can remember user preference settings and 42% want to customize their ATM preferences via their online banking channel. Women in general and the younger demographics of both genders react the most favorably to advanced ATM features such as paying bills and ordering checks. Purchase features that could influence positive views included selling postage stamps, sending money, selling movie or event tickets, selling certificates of deposit and selling prepaid phone minutes. Buying postage stamps and movie or event tickets was the most popular purchase features.

Details

Fiserv Processing Extends American FINCO

Fiserv Credit Processing Services announced the early renewal of its contract with American FINCO Financial Services thru 2013. American FINCO provides consumer financing programs to both independent and brand-based dealers of home improvement products. The company credits a strong cooperative plan for the product’s initial success. The Fiserv PLUS System unites the VisionPLUS credit processing software the industry’s leading credit-processing solution with decades of information-processing expertise and a comprehensive suite of value-added products and services from Fiserv.

Details

GMAC/FIA Launches the ditech.com MasterCard

GMAC’s ditech.com has launched the “ditech.com Equity Rewards MasterCard” credit card. The credit card is issued and administered by FIA Card Services. Cardholders earn one point for every dollar in net retail purchases charged to the card. Each time a cardholder accumulates 2,500 points, that cardholder qualifies for a $25 reduction of principal on the cardholder’s mortgage with ditech.com. There are no annual limits on points or on how many rewards can be applied to reduce mortgage principal. Points are redeemed automatically, and rewards are applied once a quarter. The card is offered at a 7.9% APR and includes a 0% intro APR on cash advance checks and balance transfers for the first twelve billing cycles, plus credit lines of up to $100,000.In 2004 the “GMAC Mortgage Equity Rewards MasterCard” credit card was introduced.

Details

DEBIT SEPT

Debit card EFT/POS volume slowed down in September sequentially, but rose at a per annum growth rate of 10%. During September, Australian
consumers used debit cards for A$7.8 billion in transactions, compared
to A$7.9 billion for August and A$7.1 billion one-year ago. Over the
past five years debit card volume has grown 59%. During September,
Australians used debit cards for A$6.3 billion in purchases with 97.1
million transactions. Total EFT/POS transactions were 112.3 million for
September according to the Reserve Bank of Australia. There were 26.1
million debit card accounts in the country at the end of September,
compared to 25.3 million one-year ago.

Details

Holiday Spending May Increase by 7%

The “21st Anniversary Holiday Survey” of retail spending by Deloitte & Touche predicts holiday sales will increase 7% during the November-to-January period, compared to 7.8% last year. However, the outlook is well above the average of the past decade, and at the high end of forecasts for this year’s holiday season. Refuting conventional wisdom about Americans’ attitudes toward debt and credit cards, 63% of total holiday purchases will be paid for using cash, checks, or debit cards, according to the survey respondents. Further, 38% of individual consumers surveyed say they will not use credit cards at all for holiday shopping. Deloitte & Touche says nearly three-fourths of Northern California consumers planning to buy at least one gift card. Holiday shoppers in the region are planning on buying an average of 4.3 cards.

Details

ADS Signs a Card Deal with Dunlap Company

Alliance Data Systems has signed a six-year agreement with The Dunlap Company to provide private label credit card programs for its department store brands. Under terms of the agreement, Alliance Data will provide a full suite of services including account acquisition and activation; receivables funding; card authorization; private label credit card issuance; statement generation; remittance processing; marketing services; and customer service functions. Dunlaps is a privately-held, regional department store chain, currently operating 38 stores in eight Southern and Southwestern states, including Texas (21), Arkansas (4), Colorado (3), New Mexico (3), Arizona (2), Kansas (2), Oklahoma (2) and Alabama (1). Alliance Data (NYSE: ADS) is a leading provider of transaction services, credit services and marketing services, managing over 105 million consumer relationships for some of North America’s most recognizable companies.

Details