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Store-Branded Gift Cards Charge Fewer Fees than Those Offered by Banks and Credit Card Companies

NEW YORK, Nov. 12, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Store-branded gift cards charge fewer fees than the all-purpose versions issued by banks and credit card companies, according to new research released today by Bankrate.com (NYSE: RATE). Of the 55 widely-held store-branded gift cards that Bankrate examined in its 2012 Gift Card Survey, only nine percent charge a purchase fee and only two percent charge a dormancy or maintenance fee.

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Bankrate surveyed eight prominent gift cards offered by banks and credit card companies and all of them charge a purchase fee ranging from $2.95 to $6.95. Seventy-five percent charge a dormancy or maintenance fee (up to $3 per month) if the card is unused for 12 or more months.

"The key takeaway for consumers is that they're going to get the most value from store-branded gift cards," said Janna Herron, credit card analyst, Bankrate.com. "The benefit of general-purpose cards offered by banks and credit card companies is that they can be used anywhere, but because of the fees, you would be better off giving cash."

Banks and credit card companies are more likely to charge fees because they need to generate revenue for their gift card businesses. Retailers, in contrast, are less dependent on those fees since the money on the card will be used for goods and services at their stores.

Additional Findings 

  • Federal rules require gift cards to stay open for at least five years. Ninety-five percent of the cards that Bankrate surveyed do not have an expiration date.
  • Six retailers that offered reloadable gift cards last year discontinued those offerings, while three others began offering reloadable gift cards this year. At present, 51% of the gift cards that Bankrate surveyed can be reloaded.
  • Whereas electronic gift card (e-card) availability rose sharply from 2010 to 2011, the trend over the past year was essentially flat. Two retailers added e-cards and one discontinued its offering. In all, just over half of the issuers that Bankrate surveyed offer e-cards, about the same as last year.
  • Two-thirds of gift card issuers will replace the card and/or funds in the event of loss or theft.

The full survey is available here: http://www.bankrate.com/finance/credit-cards/compare-gift-cards.aspx.

Methodology: Bankrate surveyed 63 widely-held gift cards from October 1-13, 2012.

About Bankrate, Inc.

Bankrate is a leading publisher, aggregator, and distributor of personal finance content on the Internet. Bankrate provides consumers with proprietary, fully researched, comprehensive, independent and objective personal finance editorial content across multiple vertical categories including mortgages, deposits, insurance, credit cards, and other categories, such as retirement, automobile loans, and taxes. The Bankrate network includes Bankrate.com, our flagship website, and other owned and operated personal finance websites, including CreditCards.com, Interest.com, Bankaholic.com, Mortgage-calc.com, CreditCardGuide.com, Nationwide Card Services, InsuranceQuotes.com, CarInsuranceQuotes.com, InsureMe, Bankrate.com.cn, CreditCards.ca, NetQuote.com, and CD.com. Bankrate aggregates rate information from over 4,800 institutions on more than 300 financial products. With coverage of nearly 600 local markets in all 50 U.S. states, Bankrate generates over 172,000 distinct rate tables capturing on average over three million pieces of information daily. Bankrate develops and provides web services to over 80 co-branded websites with online partners, including some of the most trusted and frequently visited personal finance sites on the Internet such as Yahoo!, AOL, CNBC, and Bloomberg. In addition, Bankrate licenses editorial content to over 500 newspapers on a daily basis including The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, and The Boston Globe.

For more information:

Ted Rossman
Public Relations Manager
Bankrate, Inc.
ted.rossman@bankrate.com 
(917) 368-8635

SOURCE Bankrate, Inc.

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