Holiday storms combined with the perennial ease of mailing and convenience for both givers and recipients continued to drive increased sales of gift cards and reloadable cards, according to PSCU Financial Services. During 2009 the cooperative reported a 15% growth in sales of gift cards and a 52% sales gain for reloadable cards over the previous year. Total money loaded to gift cards was up 17% while the value of reloadable cards was up an astonishing 46%.
"Both card formats experienced growth but different factors exert influence on prepaid gift and reloadable cards," said Denise Stevens, director of Prepaid Services for PSCU Financial Services. "Overall convenience and hazardous winter weather made gift cards an attractive option for many credit union members. Reloadable cards serve two primary needs: they provide an easy way for members to stick to a budget both during the holidays and year-round. They are also an excellent tool for members who are struggling to obtain or maintain traditional payment products such as credit or debit cards."
Both of these dynamics drove a 98% increase in cardholders who reloaded their cards in 2009 as compared to 2008.
"Many Americans who experienced job losses or who feared a future loss in income curbed their spending throughout the year. These members and others on a budget used reloadable cards in addition to, or in place of, debit or credit cards for many expenses," Stevens explained.
The nation's largest credit union service organization has 146 credit unions participating in its prepaid program. Almost all of the credit unions issue gift cards and about half issue reloadable cards as well.