BCG Says American Consumers are Trading Down

The Boston Consulting Group says a survey it recently conducted shows that the vast majority of American consumers are “trading down” this holiday season. The research firm says this is the first time in five years of annual surveys that American consumers have been this cautious. BCG says it found that 40% of consumers are planning to spend less over the next three months and only 23% are planning to spend more. At the same time, BCG notes that 92% of consumers indicate they will “trade up” in at least one category to get better products or services. The top three are personal computers (47%), sit-down restaurants (42%), and bedding (42%).

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Travelers to Spend $1300 for Holiday Travel

A recent American Express Travel survey shows that Americans planning to travel have budgeted an estimated $1,267 for their total holiday travel-spend this year. Forty-five percent prefer using credit or charge cards to pay for travel expenses, and 26% plan to use reward points earned by using credit cards to pay for some or all of the costs incurred. Nearly 60% said they would consider or plan to purchase a prepaid product. AmEx found that 28% of travelers will book directly from online travel agencies and Web sites and 19% will book directly from airlines, hotels and car rental companies via telephone.

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Capital One Survey Finds 77% Concerned About ID Theft

A new national survey sponsored by Capital One Bank finds that 77%
of Canadians are concerned about identity theft, but only 10% feel
that the information available to guard against
identity theft is fully adequate. However, the survey finds that 45%
of Canadians do not review or monitor their credit reports on a
regular basis for errors or suspicious loans. One-in-five Canadians (21%) feel that they are not well- or not at all informed on the issue of
identity theft and 51 % of Canadians say “No” when asked if they keep
unused
credit. As of October, there have already been 9,034 reported victims of
identity theft, totaling $7.2 million in losses.

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AXA Says Americans are Top Holiday Spenders

AXA Equitable found that Americans plan to spend more money on Christmas holiday gifts than anyone else in the world. AXA says its survey showed that the average working American plans to spend approximately $1,345 on Christmas holiday gifts this year, a 42% increase over projected spending in last year’s AXA survey. When asked what gifts they would buy, more than 85% favored both clothing and small-ticket entertainment items. AXA says the Japanese ranked lowest among those surveyed, with workers saying they plan to spend approximately $160 on Christmas holiday gifts this year.

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MasterCard and BankWest to Launch Prepaid Debit

BankWest has reportedly agreed to issue a MasterCard prepaid debit card. Dow Jones also reports that MasterCard expects to issue prepaid debit cards through three other banks next year in Australia. VISA prepaid debit cards are offered by St. George Bank, Suncorp-Metway, HSBC, and 11 other regional banks and building societies. VISA debit cards are also issued through Westpac in Victoria state only. MasterCard has 16 million debit cards and six million credit cards in the country. BankWest is a unit of HBOS.

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BSA Says Internet Security will Affect Sales

The Business Software Alliance says it found that 25% of U.S. consumers will not shop online this holiday season due to Internet security concerns. More than 60% of consumers predict Internet security concerns will affect their online holiday shopping at some level. According to the survey, 84% of U.S. online consumers believe that some Internet retailers have not done enough to protect their customers, and 76% would like to be better educated on how to protect themselves. BSA says the good news is that 81% are using anti-virus software on their computers.

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PayPal Closes Payment Gateway Acquisition

PayPal has closed its acquisition of VeriSign’s payment gateway business for $370 million. The acquisition does not impact the guidance that eBay provided in its earnings announcement on Oct. 19, 2005. The estimated outlook for the payment gateway business is already reflected in eBay’s guidance for the fourth quarter of 2005 and the full year 2006. VeriSign operates intelligent infrastructure services that protect interactions across voice and data networks. PayPal, an eBay company, enables any individual or business with an email address to send and receive payments online.

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Card Rates on the Web Rise for 7th Week

Ohio-based IndexCreditCards.com says consumer credit card rates, as published by major banks on their respective Web sites, rose for the seventh straight week. “Top-level” consumer credit cards averaged a 9.91% Annual Percentage Rate (APR), up from 9.87% last week and 9.51% seven weeks ago. IndexCreditCards.com uses “top-level” to describe Platinum or similarly designated credit cards that generally offer the lowest interest rates to eligible cardholders. IndexCreditCards.com offers credit card news, research and a comprehensive index of credit cards available on the Internet today.

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Calif DMV to Begin Debit Card Acceptance

The California Department of Motor Vehicles is gearing up to offer ATM/debit card acceptance in 92 field office by mid-January after 89% of customers polled said they appreciated the convenience of cards. Traditional credit cards will continue to be accepted only for Internet and telephone transactions. The new service at selected field offices applies only to ATM/debit cards with manually entered PIN numbers.

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Women to Use Mostly Cash for Holiday Gifts

WomensWallStreet.com says its annual study shows that 33% of women say they’ll spend between $250 and $500, with the $500 to $1,000 range coming in a close second with 32% of women. Nearly 70% of women say they will buy at least some of their gifts online. The survey also found that 45% will pay with mostly cash while 34% will mostly use credit cards. Slightly more than 20% will have an even split between cash and credit cards.

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