You can still lose on gift cards without expiration dates

Posted by: Curtis Stevens on December 17th, 2009

Consumers have been warned for the longest time about gift cards with expiration dates. With all the publicity, most of your big retailers and chains do not impose any expiration dates anymore. This is all great except apparently some states are now claiming those unused funds if you do not us it in a certain period of time. How can they do this? There seems to be a law called “escheatment,” that says the States have the authority to overtake abandoned property. You may not guess unused gift cards would be considered property, but obviously some states are seeing it that way such as New York and California. NY is 5 years and CA is 3. So you better use those cards or lose it. There are many sites out there that you can sell your gift cards to if you have no interest in the store.  Simply do a search online for them.

I personally thing this is not right on the State’s part. The credit card processing business has been preaching for years that one of the best benefits of having gift cards is that the unclaimed money is simply yours to keep. It will vary with every merchant, but unclaimed gift card value can be anywhere from 10 to 20%, which is simply extra free cash for the merchant. Apparently, this is no longer the case if you are located in some states.

Amex is targeting young adults with responsible spending.

Posted by: Curtis Stevens on December 11th, 2009

Amex has been running a campaign recently targeting consumers that want to be more responsible with their credit card usage. Amex has always been known as a card that requires you to pay your ball in full, but do not incur interest charges and other bank related fees. That also means young people have never really been interested in them. That may have changed now. They introduced a card call the Zync Card. It comes with a small annual fee and consumers get to participate in their rewards program. The downside is not every merchant accepts Amex because Amex has always charged more in credit card processing fees. I personally do not see much of a benefit with Amex when you have Visa & MasterCard that give out as good or better rewards. Plus, V/MC are the default cards, every merchant accepts them if they are accepting any type of card, whereas Amex is a luxury. That is why most consumers that carry an Amex card, also have a V/MC as too many merchants do not accept their card. Times are definitely changing and who knows what we will see in 3 to 5 yrs from now.

Some consumers are earning frequent flier miles on the tax payer expense

Posted by: Curtis Stevens on December 10th, 2009

What if I were to tell you that you could have earned frequent flier miles on your credit card for free?  Apparently the US Mint was offering free shipping on bulk orders of coins.  The consumers purchased the coins with their credit cad that gave them frequent flier miles.  They would then take the coins to the bank to pay off the credit card.  How much did it cost them?  Nothing, besides some time & effort, but they earned a total of two million miles!  It cost the mint and US tax payers around $6 to ship 500 coins and around $1 million worth of coins were shipped.  That would make it more than $12K in shipping costs as well as the credit card processing fees they incurred.  How much value is 2 million miles?  Around $40K!  It’s a good thing the US Mint has put an end to this as it shows you there are some people will take advantage of anything if given the opportunity.

The biggest credit card thief has been brought to justice

Posted by: Curtis Stevens on December 10th, 2009

Albert Gonzales is now safely behind bars, the person that was behind the two largest data breaches ever occurred in the US during 06 to 2008.  These two breaches were the ones associated with the TJMaxx & Marshall theft and the one related to the data breach at Heartland.  Data breaches such as these have been plaguing the credit card processing industry for several years now. The good news is these two big data breaches are only tied to a small ring of hackers. One’s that are not computer geniuses. One of the ways they obtained some of the credit card data was to drive around town looking for wireless networks that were not secure. Hopping onto the unsecured network and then install a sniffer program that sniffed out the credit card data as it passed along in the network. This is a good wake up call for any merchant transmitting credit card data through a wireless network, it is not recommend regardless. Even if your network is secure, it is better to be on the safe side.

Credit card usage down this holiday season

Posted by: Curtis Stevens on December 4th, 2009

I just saw a report that says credit card usage by consumers for gifts is down this holiday season.  It is down over 3% compared to last year.  It gave a story from Mike who paid off his credit card balance and is only spending $1K this year on the family instead of the normal 3 to 4K.  He said it will be a light Christmas this year.  A spokes person from FirstData said pin debit is up 9% for pin debit compared to last year.  More and more people are only spending what they have.  From one side of the table, I’m all for that as people should control their personal spending and not get themselves into a hole.  On the other side, it affects our company as our profits are all based on how much merchants processing and what they pay on their credit card processing bill. I wished everyone lived a solid financial life, but if that were to happen, the unfortunate thing is it would greatly affect the merchant account industry.

Will Fiserv’s new credit card change the landscape

Posted by: Curtis Stevens on December 4th, 2009

Bus_20091201151211_97It appears that Fiserv has created a new credit card by turning it on its side.  Instead of the card being horizontal like it has been for decades, it now printed Vertical.  I think this has a lot of cool factor.  They said they have a trademark on the “Card Collection” name and have over 70 card designs.  Cardholders can even create a card using a photo, which will give it great personalization and faster checks out at times as there is no concern with the merchant if it is a legitimate transaction.  I assume the magnetic strip will work like any other card, so all existing credit card processing machines will be compatible and able to process them without any hiccups.

Can using a debit card online be dangerous

Posted by: Curtis Stevens on December 3rd, 2009

I saw an article by a woman named Mary.  There are a few things I would like to say about her comments.  She goes into details about using a debit card when making a purchase online.   A reader asked if it was ok to use a debit card to buy something online.  Mary explains that debit cards are simply that, the funds always come directly from your checking account.  Do not confuse them with a credit card that is tied to a line of credit.  So when a retailer asks you debit or credit, they are simply asking if you want to process the card by pin debit using your pin number or to sign for it using the Visa/MC networks.

I have always been a fan of using a credit card for signature purchases and the main reason is this.  If you buy something online using your debit card, the number is now out there.  If someone gets a hold of it, they could drain your checking account. You then have to report the fraudulent transactions, deal with your bank and hopefully get all of your money.  But then every other transaction or check you wrote could bounce, creating a lot of havoc for you.  With a credit card, you don’t have those issues since it is going against a line of credit that isn’t tied to the rest of your finances.  However, many consumers still make purchases online with their debit card.  The good news is for merchants as the Interchange rates are less for debit cards and that should result in lower credit card processing fees with their merchant provider.

Merchant Accounts | Credit Card Logos | Ecommerce Blog
Merchant Account Articles | Resources | Link-to-Us | Privacy Policy