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Michigan Credit Union League Home » Information Services » Publications » Contact » 2005 » 4th Quarter » Focus: Products and Services  

Gift Cards — Better than Sliced Bread?

By Ed Jesionowski
Business Consultant
CUcorp Lending & Payment Solutions

Sliced bread, ATMs and gift cards?

We’ve all either heard it or said it, “That’s the greatest invention since sliced bread.” Although comparing gift cards to sliced bread may be a slight exaggeration, gift cards have definitely taken off in Michigan. In fact, Michigan had more gift card sales within the credit union movement than any other state in 2004.

Has your credit union jumped on board yet? If not, here’s how easy and convenient the prepaid gift card can be for your credit union.

Let’s say a member from your credit union has three nieces who live in the Atlanta area. She decides to try the old-fashioned method of holiday shopping by going out to the mall, not really sure about sizes, colors or brands of clothing and literally spending hours trying to decide what to buy.

When the member finally sends everything down south after finding the right boxes, postage, etc., the job is done, right? Well, one week later, those little nieces weren’t happy, and were wondering if the gifts could be exchanged for something else. Sound appealing or at all familiar?

Maybe the gift card is a better solution. That same member could just visit his or her credit union and pick up a prepaid debit card, which will be loaded with the exact dollar amount in about 30 seconds. The member can just fit the gift card in a nice envelope, and send it on its way. Once those nieces receive the gift card, they will be able to use it wherever Visa is accepted, including retail shops, restaurants and gas stations. The member is happy because there’s no need to hassle with holiday shopping and the nieces are thrilled to be carrying a debit card that can be used on whatever their little hearts desire.

These gift cards are great for holidays, birthdays, weddings or any special occasion. It’s much safer than sending cash, more versatile than a gift certificate and, let’s face it, it looks much cooler — especially for those young adults who want to impress their friends with their own debit card. There are even eight different designs to choose from.

These gift cards are non-reloadable. So, when the dollar amount is exhausted, they can simply be thrown away. Each purchase is deducted from the balance of the card until no balance remains.

Down the road we will be introducing the Family Card, which will be reloadable. It’s designed for the younger adult, especially college-bound students. Parents will be able to re-load $100 a month (or any amount up to $500) onto their child’s debit card even when they are away at school. And the best part: Mom and dad will be able to check to see where this card is being used by checking the Web site every day!

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For more information on gift cards, contact Jesionowski at (800) 262-6285, Ext. 538, or

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