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Month: June 2011 (Page 1 of 2)

Gift Cards Finally Go On Sale in Post Offices

A few months ago, there was an announcement that post offices will start selling gift cards in select locations nationwide. This week alone, an estimated 1800 locations are already participating reportedly and they are set to roll out to 3,000 more locations over the next three months.

USPS has teamed up with American Express to run a market trial focused on presenting consumers a different way to purchase cards and retail product, with the goal of bringing in extra revenue. The cards will be available in $25 and $50 amounts as well as a variable $25 to $100 option.

All the cards that will be sold at the USPS locations are “open loop” and are the type of cards that are accepted anywhere Credit or Debit cards are accepted. This unlike the specific store gift cards gives consumers a broader variety of spending options and in turn brings in more revenue. The gift cards are also being sold alongside greeting cards – already being sold- to take advantage of both avenues. USPS receives a portion of the purchase fee for the cards: $3.95 for the $25 card, rising to $5.95 for the variable-denomination card.

USPS plans to run this market trial for up to two years to test out the sale of gift cards. During the trial period, USPS will try out different price structures and can expand the test to include vendors other than American Express, which is just the first company to join the program.

In the US, the gift card market is thought to be worth around $86bn/year and for American Express is $1billion/year. First data reported that popularity of gift cards are rising again following a decline due to the recession. According to the National Retail Federation, gift cards are the most requested gifts among American adults in the last 4 years.

American Express Launches New Prepaid Plastic

Over the past year, there has been significant growth in the credit card and debit card markets, but more in the latter. Credit card transactions grew by about 4% to $1.96 trillion while debit card transactions grew by almost 14% to over $1.8 trillion in the same time. American Express never really benefited from the growth like VISA and MasterCard did since they don’t issue debit cards, but in an attempt to gain some spoils of the growth, American Express has entered the prepaid card market.

The Card giants recently announced a new prepaid card that offers users the convenience of an American Express card without assuming additional credit by tapping into their already existing funds.

No limit on Transaction Fees.

One advantage American Express will play on is that unlike debit cards, there is no cap on transaction fees with Prepaid cards. Issuing banks often charge transaction fees on debit cards, but the Fed recently capped those fees at 12 cents per transactions from the percentage based fees charged in the past.

The fact that those caps don’t apply to prepaid cards have led to an increase in sale of prepaid cards by banks, up to about 35% rise in dollar volume of prepaid card transactions to $65 billion in 2010 from $48 billion in 2009.

It helps American Express grow its Cardmember base

Generally, American Express has a card member base considered to be the richest, which has shown over the years in how much money is spent by the average card holder. The higher income cardmember base also leads to lower defaults and allows American Express to charge merchants a higher transaction fee as American Express presents them consumers with a much higher spending power compared to others.

On the other hand, this limits growth in the number of card members. Prepaid cards enable American Express to expand its cardmember base beyond its current “well to do” customers while increasing the number of transactions.

Prepaid VISA Gift Cards

A prepaid gift card is as simple as using a credit card, only better. A prepaid card is an ideal gift to give your loved ones especially if you don’t know what to bring them. They serve as excellent birthday, thanksgiving, Christmas or even graduation gifts.

A prepaid VISA gift card is basically a credit card that has a predetermined limit on it. If you want to gift somebody a card for $500 you can set that as your limit. In such a case, the person you are gifting the card to can shop using the VISA card at any departmental or other type of stores. In effect, you will be buying the individual whatever he or she is swiping that card on. It is the same thing as giving somebody an envelope with money only this is a far more stylish and sophisticated method.

There is a range of six kinds of VISA prepaid cards.

There is the VISA travel money card. This is similar in concept as the gift card but is used primarily while traveling. You can set a limit on the card and make sure that you stay within a budget during your vacation. This is a far more convenient method of spending money. VISA cards are always more classy to have in your wallet also it doesn’t tie you down with change or any other related problem. For example, if you are on a vacation and there aren’t any ATMs around and you run out of cash! This could be an awful situation to be in. Having a visa travel prepaid card will ensure that such events never arise.

There is the Healthcare VISA prepaid card. This is a wonderful card to have which can be used only for your medical expenses even if it is only getting your prescription medicines from the drug store.

The VISA payroll card is an interesting concept. It can be used to pay out staff and other employees. It saves the trouble of handing them checks or cash. Thus us another way of saving paper.

If you are considering letting children handle credit cards, then a good idea will be to give them the VISA Buxx card. This way, you can keep track of all their spending right down to their last cent and not worry about them spending on the wrong things.

The VISA reloadable as the name suggests is a type of prepaid card that can be used more than once. The card can be charged over and over when there is a requirement of money.  Cards have made spending and carrying money extremely convenient and easy. One doesn’t have to worry about bulging pocket because of the size of their wallets or carry large purses to accommodate their wallets. VISA cards can be simply slipped into your pockets and no one will even notice.

Amazon Trade-In Expands to Electronics

Amazon recently upgraded their trade-in program to include electronics like Apple iPads, Android Phones, Digital Cameras and GPS Units. Previously the trade in program only offered movie, book, and game trade-ins for gift cards. The move puts Amazon in direct competition with companies like Gazelle or BuyMyTronics. While the gift card exchanges are actually handled by a third party merchant, Amazon acts as a drop-off point or middleman in the transaction. This is similar to how Gazelle has expanded their presence into stores like Office Depot.

According to an article by PCMag, Amazon is not allowing customers to exchange e-readers of any kind which includes the Kindle or Barnes & Noble Nook. It appears that by not accepting E-Readers into the trade in program, Amazon is attempting to avoid creating a secondary market around one of their top selling products. This is to ensure that people continue to buy new versions of the Kindle and not used models that they do not profit from.

How does Trade-In Work?

  • First visit the Amazon Trade-In website and select your item.
  • Depending on the item, model, and condition your payout will vary. Example – An Apple iPad 2 that’s in good condition has a value of $275.00.
  • If you find the deal acceptable click continue and select the Free UPS drop off.
  • Print the UPS shipping label, drop the item off at your local UPS store, and you’re done.

You can track the status of your trade-in from the website at any time. It’s a very nice feature to be able to track your package, especially when you are shipping something of high value. The entire process should take around 5-8 business days and you will receive an email from Amazon when the funds are deposited into your account.

I expect the electronics trade in program to continue to grow due to consumers desire for new technology and massive popularity of the Amazon gift card. If you have exchanged an item with Amazon for a gift card, leave a comment about your experience below and we will feature it in this post.

eGift Cards- The New Gift card?

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Exchange Coins for Gift Cards at Coinstar

Did you know that at your local Coinstar you can trade in your unwanted change and convert them into gift cards? It’s a simple and easy process which will now be available at over 1,400 Safeway locations in the United States and Canada. If there are no Safeway’s nearby you can always use the Coinstar locator and find a kiosk near you.

There are a ton of different gift card partners for Coinstar including Amazon, iTunes, Starbucks, Lowe’s, and Old Navy. One of the benefits of gift card exchange at Coinstar is that there is no fee for using that service. If you decide to choose the cash option instead of gift card exchange you will lose a percentage due to fees, so it makes more sense to trade in for a gift card.

How to Exchange Coins for Gift Cards at Coinstar

1.) Collect all of the coins you have. You don’t have to worry about organizing them because you can just dump them all into the machine. Some great places to look for extra coins are in your car, under the cushions on the couch, or in your desk.

2.) Visit your local Coinstar Kisok. They are easy to locate and even simpler to use.

3.) Follow the instructions as provided on screen and select what gift card you’d like. Remember that cashing in your coins for a gift card is free but choosing the cash option will result in a fee.

Coinstar Commercial advertising Gift Card Exchange

Wachovia – Wells Fargo Visa Buxx Prepaid Card Review

The Wachovia (Now Wells Fargo) Visa Buxx gift card is a prepaid, reloadable gift card designed for teens. A parent loads the card with cash, providing the teen the ability to purchase goods and services anywhere Visa debit cards are accepted. For a detail review about the Visa Buxx gift card and other bank issuers of the card, click here.

How the Wachovia – Wells Fargo Visa Buxx Card Works:

FAQs about the Wachovia – Wells Fargo Visa Buxx Prepaid Card

1. How can I order a Wachovia – Wells Fargo Visa Buxx Card?
You can order the Wachovia Visa Buxx gift card online here.

2. How do I check the available balance on my Wachovia – Wells Fargo Visa Buxx Card?
To check the balance on your card, sign into your account and you will be able to view the current balance on your card –

3. Can I use the Visa Buxx Card at an ATM?
Yes, you can use the Visa Buxx Card to withdraw cash from Visa ATMs worldwide including those displaying the Wachovia, Wells Fargo, Visa or Plus® logos.

4. Is there an Age Limit on Who Can Use the Visa Buxx Cards?
Yes, your teen must be at least 13 years old in order to be able to use the Wachovia – Wells Fargo Visa Buxx prepaird card.

5. Can the Card ever have a negative balance or be overdrawn?
Yes, it is possible to overdraw the Visa Buxx gift card if the are transactions that have not been posted to the account due to delay by merchants and specific merchant policy. It is therefore important to monitor transactions online to make sure all transactions have cleared and there are no pending transactions. If your teen’s Visa Buxx account is overdrawn, an overdraft fee may be assessed.

6. How do I load money to my teen’s Visa Buxx Card?
You can fund the Wachovia – Wells Fargo Visa Buxx gift card using a Visa or MasterCard credit card, a Visa check card, or a MasterMoney card. Additionally, you may be able to do transfers from your checking or savings account to your Visa Buxx account. Check with your local Wachovia – Well Fargo bank branch to be sure.

7. What are the fees associated with the Visa Buxx Card?
You can find a detailed list of the fees and charges under the terms and conditions here.

Telemundo Branded Gift Cards Targets Hispanics

Telemundo and NBC have partnered with inComm to introduce a new line of Telemundo-branded Visa and MasterCard gift cards which hit retail locations at the end of last month. Incomm is a leader in sales and marketing of prepaid products and transaction processing. The telemundo gift cards are licensed through NBC Universal Television Consumer products and the deal was brokered by Big Tent Entertainment, which is the licensing agent for the Telemundo brand.

The Telemundo gift cards were introduced to “offer Telemundo fans and the Hispanics they are targeting” a convenient financial service from a recognized brand within the community. Offered in a variety of designs, the cards can be the perfect gift for anyone on the gift list. Each Visa  or MasterCard gift card will feature Telemundo branding, as well as traditional Hispanic holidays and themes such as Quinceanara and futbol.

The purchasing power of the Hispanic community exceeds $1 trillion and the goal of this new cards is to enhance the buying power of the community. Incomm sees the partnership as a way for them to offer innovative product to their retail partners and strengthen their commitment and support of the Hispanic marketplace.

Telemundo recently announced that according to Nielsen Media Research, through the first 6 weeks of the second quarter of 2011, the network is the fastest growing broadcast network with the largest percentage gain versus the first quarter of 2011 during Monday through Friday prime among adults 18-34. The network captured 32% of Spanish language TV viewership in May.

Craigslist Gift Cards- Buyer Beware!

Craigslist is one of the most popular websites on the net today. A person can find practically anything on craigslist from jobs, to housing, to personals, and anything thing you can think of is for sale, including gift cards.

Craigslist is a centralized network of online communities featuring online classified advertisements. Anybody can post any type of classified add on craigslist. There is very little if any verification done on the part of craigslist to determine if they add is legitimate or not. This makes Craigslist a playground for online scammers. One of the popular ways people take advantage of others using craigslist is by selling fraudulent gift cards.

A fraudulent gift card is one that was purchased with a stolen credit card. One the outside everything appears to be fine. The balance can remain on the gift card for several weeks. However, as soon as the credit card owner realizes their card has been compromised they call their credit card company, and the credit card company issues a chargeback (refund on the purchase). The gift card will then be immediately deactivated.

This means that even if you meet the seller at the merchants store to verify the balance, it could be zeroed out within hours. And you just paid the guy in cash. Ouch.

When purchasing discounted gift cards from classifies sites, the utmost precautions must be taken. If possible, get a receipt from the seller.  To buy discounted gift cards with peace of mind, use companies that are dedicated to customer satisfaction and guarantee every transaction.

The Power of Discounted Gift Cards

Bargain shoppers, penny pinchers and deal hunters already know. The best way to get more bang for your buck, no matter what you’re buying is by using discounted gift cards. The idea is simple. Go shopping, pick out what you want, but before you actually buy; head over to a discounted gift card retailer and purchase a gift card to your retailer of choice.

Having the most expensive outfit on is out of fashion these days. Instead, it’s more fashionable to have the best looking outfit that was purchased at a bargain price. Discounted gift card retailers are growing in popularity because of this change. These companies offer people a way to save money without sales, coupons or any other incentive from the retailer itself. Why wouldn’t you use them?

Let’s say you need a new pair of shoes and plan on going to Footlocker to get them. Unfortunately, Footlocker isn’t having any sales or discounts on the pair you want. Not to worry, you can still save 10-30% by purchasing a discounted gift card before you shop.

The power of discounted gift cards grows exponentially when you couple them with sales and merchant coupons.

$100.00 gift card purchased for $85.00 + a 10% merchant coupon + a 20% merchant sale = 45% savings off retail!!!!

In this example, you would be getting $100.00 for the price of $55.00. Using discounted gift cards in this manner almost becomes like purchasing discounted money. Who wouldn’t take $100.00 for $55.00? Smart shoppers are already aware of the effectiveness; if you’re not already using discounted gift cards this way, it’s time to get on board.

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