Bankrate Says Bank-Issued Gift Cards Are Expensive

A new study shows that the average delivery fee on a major credit card gift card is $3.60. Also, the major credit card issuers continue to charge monthly “maintenance fees” if the gift card isn’t used within a certain period of time, ranging from $2 per month to $3. The “Third Annual Holiday Gift Card Study” by Bankrate found that States that forbid expiration dates now include: CA, CT, LA, ME, MD, MA, NV, NH, ND, OK, RI, VT and WA. Bankrate says Discover Card had no shipping fees last year; this year they charge $3.95 for each gift card or $6.95 for a premium gift card package. American Express now offers personalized gift cards on which the recipient’s name can be embossed. AmEx gift cards can also be purchased in stores this year, whereas last year they were available only online. Of the electronic cards surveyed, only JCPenney allows the cards to be used to purchase merchandise in stores. The others — Wal-Mart, Costco, Target, Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s and Kohls — allow electronic gift cards to be used only online or for catalog items.

Details

Chordiant Software Releases Fraud Manager

CA-based Chordiant Software has released “Fraud Manager,” a software application that automates fraud investigations and recovery processes while strengthening compliance with association rules. Chordiant Fraud Manager, created using the innovative Chordiant Mesh(TM) collaborative development model, increases the efficiency of investigation representatives and minimizes the impact of financial losses by helping card issuers determine the best course of action in fraud cases. Chordiant Fraud Manager evaluates data in industry-standard fraud detection systems to build cases and determine appropriate next actions. Chordiant helps leading global brands such as HSBC, Barclay’s, CIBC and Capital One deliver the best possible customer experience.

Details

TransLink Smart Fare Card Penetrates Bay Area

The San Francisco area-based TransLink has launched it’s smart transit card on all AC Transit and Dumbarton Express buses, all Golden Gate Transit buses and in Golden Gate Ferry terminals with a roll-out to all other Bay Area transit agencies scheduled for next year. Over the next several weeks, AC Transit, Golden Gate Transit and Golden Gate Ferry will begin recruiting several hundred riders to use TransLink cards and to troubleshoot the new high-tech fare payment system. This “pre-launch” initiative allows regular customers to help identify and resolve any issues. TransLink card reader devices are installed at the Golden Gate Larkspur and San Francisco Ferry Terminal fare gates. Golden Gate Transit Routes 40 and 42 services across the Richmond Bridge and AC Transit, the TransLink card will automatically process the transfer electronically and deduct the correct fare.

Details

Symbol Technologies and Hypercom Lands Orders

Symbol Technologies and Hypercom announced the receipt of the first product orders for Symbol’s new “PD8700” and “PD4750” multi-lane electronic payment terminals. The orders for the Symbol-branded, Hypercom-manufactured secure electronic payment devices were received from a leading U.S. specialty retailer of women’s apparel and accessories, as well as one of the world’s leading maternity apparel retailers. Global payment technology leader Hypercom Corporation delivers a full suite of high security, end-to-end electronic payment products and services. Symbol Technologies, Inc., The Enterprise Mobility Company(TM), is a recognized worldwide leader in enterprise mobility, delivering products and solutions that capture, move and manage information in real time to and from the point of business activity.

Details

MC Says Black Friday & Cyber Monday are Myths

MasterCard transaction data reveals that “Black Friday” did not even rank in the top five busiest holiday shopping days last year and that “Cyber Monday 2005” ranked as the ninth most active online shopping day in terms of transactions processed. Based on prior MasterCard data, “Cyber Monday” this year will most likely take place on December 4th. The “MasterCard Holiday Shopping Insights” report found that 74% of consumers think Thanksgiving weekend is the busiest time for holiday shopping. But, only 10% of those surveyed said they will conduct their shopping on “Cyber Monday,” the Monday after Thanksgiving. Nearly three out of four people plan to shop online during the holidays, with 26% saying they will shop online more this year than they did last year. Also, three out of four people surveyed said they like to receive prepaid cards as gifts. Only 18% of respondents said they would most often use cash or checks for holiday shopping, opting instead for credit or debit.

Details

Consumer Credit Scores Decline Below 2001 Levels

A recent “National Score Index” by Experian shows a 16.9% decline from 2001 to 2006 in the rate at which consumers are opening new credit accounts and a 12.6% rate at which late payments of 90 days or more are increasing. The national average credit score is now 675, seven points lower from 2001 when it was 682. The drop in the rate of consumers opening new accounts this year may give the appearance that they are being more conservative with regard to using credit, but, it also shows that balances on other types of loans, such as installment loans, are increasing. Experian’s “National Score Index” study is based on a nationwide sampling of three million consumer credit files.

Details

RBC Says American Consumers’ Outlook Brightens

The “RBC CASH Index” increased to 92.4 this month, compared to 83.1 in October, reflecting the outlook of Americans brightened. The “RBC Expectations Index” for November rose 60.5, compared to 39.8 last month. This represents the highest level of confidence in future economic conditions since January 2005, when expectations stood at 79.6. While expectations for personal finances basically held steady in November, 34% of Americans believe their personal finances will be stronger six months from now compared to 37% last month, overall sentiment regarding expectations for local economies rose sharply. This month, 27% of Americans believe their local economy will be stronger six months from now, compared to 21% who felt similarly in October.

Details

AmEx Predicts 06 Holiday Travel Will Rise

An American Express Travel poll of 402 agents and representatives show that this year the week between Christmas and New Year’s will be the most popular time for holiday travel. In fact, according to agents’ rankings, that particular week was significantly more popular than the weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas (27%), during Thanksgiving (18%), after the New Year (8%) and before Thanksgiving (4%). The poll also revealed that 24% of agents are booking more holiday travel overall this year than last, with the majority (43%) saying that holiday vacation budgets are exceeding $2,000 per person. According to agents polled, top factors that consumers weigh when making holiday travel plans are: how well they suit their family’s interests, discounts/deals, available amenities and upgrades, advice from travel agents, ability to redeem rewards points, and convenient/easy to get to.

Details

Delinquency Heads Higher in the Fourth Quarter

After receding sharply in the fourth and first quarter delinquency has surged to a new high in 2006. Last month, 60+ day delinquency hit 2.54%, topping January by two basis points. According to CardData, delinquency for the October period hit 2.54%, compared to 2.45% in September and 2.57% one-year ago. The rise has been attributed to higher minimum payments coupled with rising interest rates on other personal and mortgage loans. Citibank reported last month that overall delinquency (90+ days) rose slightly from 1.58% for 2Q/06 to 1.60% for the third quarter 2006. Bank of America reported that the managed 30+ day delinquency rose to 4.90% for 3Q/06, compared to 4.56% in the second quarter and 4.49% for 3Q/05. Chase posted a 30-day managed delinquency rate of 3.17%, down from 3.39% in the prior year, but up slightly from 3.14% in the prior quarter. Moody’s recently reported that September’s delinquency rate rose for the third consecutive month. It is expected that charge-offs will slowly rise through the rest of this year, significantly impacting credit card profits in the fourth quarter. (CF Library 10/18/06; 10/19/06)

60+ DAY DELINQUENCY
Jan 06: 2.52%
Feb 06: 2.50%
Mar 06: 2.39%
Apr 06: 2.30%
May 06: 2.38%
Jun 06: 2.42%
Jul 06: 2.39%
Aug 06: 2.42%
Sep 06: 2.45%
Oct 06: 2.54%
Source: CardData (www.carddata.com)

Details

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