Quoted – 7 ways to score discounted gift cards

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According to the National Retail Federation, restaurant cards are one of the most popular gift card choices — coming in second only to department stores. Consumers can save big on these cards by visiting websites such as Restaurant.com that offer them for prices lower than face value.

Buyers can browse by location, cuisine and average entree price. The choices vary widely, from local mom-and-pops to major chains. There are also multiple discount levels, with purchase prices that represent a 50 percent savings or more.

While it’s possible to score some good deals with Restaurant.com, be sure to read the fine print, says Scott Testa, a retail consultant and assistant professor of business administration at Cabrini College near Philadelphia.

Read more: 7 ways to score discounted gift cards http://www.bankrate.com/finance/credit-cards/7-ways-to-score-discounted-gift-cards-1.aspx#ixzz15YG1YOoN

 

 

http://www.bankrate.com/finance/credit-cards/7-ways-to-score-discounted-gift-cards-3.aspx

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Quoted – 5 questions to ask before getting a credit card with an annual fee

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There’s no doubt about it: More credit card issuers are adding or increasing annual fees. But there are still plenty of no-fee options, so before you sign up for a new card with an annual fee, make sure the benefits are worth the costs.

Spurred by the Credit CARD Act and new Federal Reserve Board regulations that limit the types of fees that credit card issuers can impose, card issuers are looking to increase revenues by adding or raising annual and other fees. In fact, 35 percent of all credit card offers mailed to consumers in the last quarter of 2009 carried an annual fee, the highest percentage in the past decade, according to Synovate Mail Monitor, a direct mail tracker.

5. Have you done your research to get the best deal? If you’re looking for a new card and considering paying an annual fee, your due diligence should include comparing rewards cards that have a fee with those that don’t and calling customer service to get more information if there is something you don’t understand. Many credit cards don’t offer a lot of specific information about redeeming rewards on their websites and in mailings, so make sure you know what you’re getting into before you get a new card.

If you already have a rewards card, check periodically to make sure the benefits you originally got the card for still exist, says Scott Testa, a professor of business administration at Cabrini College in Philadelphia. “Credit card companies generally are not in the business to advertise what they’re taking away from you,” he says.

And make sure to call your card issuer and ask them to waive the fee every year, Testa adds. “You’ve got nothing to lose,” he says. “The worst case, they say no.”

http://www.creditcards.com/credit-card-news/help/5-key-questions-credit-card-annual-fee-6000.php

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Quoted – Point of Sale – Portfolio.com

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Many a retailer offer their own credit cards, hoping to lure in shoppers who may not be able to purchase in cash. But do the benefits of offering a dedicated line of credit outweigh the risks?

Go into the fitting room at a major retailer and you’ll see an ad for its own branded credit card touting benefits from cardholder special-savings days (like Tuesdays at the Gap)—promises of exclusive sales and discounts.

But with so many credit delinquencies and defaults hitting lenders, why would retailers want to expose themselves to that kind of risk? “Credit is a source of revenue,” says Scott Testa, a retail consultant and Professor of Business Administration at Cabrini College in Philadelphia. “And most chains outsource the actual processing to larger banks. Home Depot’s consumer card, for example, is managed by Citibank. In terms of exposure, depending on how the retailer structures the deal with the bank, the stores can be minimally exposed to risk.”

“If they’re outsourcing the operation to a bank, the costs are relatively low because a major lending facility will already have financing on a major scale in place,” Testa says. “If they decide to keep it in-house, companies need to account for computers, credit processing, customer-service professionals, mailings, and other miscellaneous office supplies.”

“Since banks have been dealing with so many losses on consumer cards, they might hold stores partially responsible for costs associated with loss, especially in the case of stolen and unauthorized credit use,” says Testa referring to what’s known as “charge backs” in the industry. If a store accepted a stolen card and has a signature on file for the transactions, the credit issuer can—and usually does—share the burden with the retailer.

The other elusive element is customer service. “Since this is a service that has to be managed, it’s important that the retailer aligns with a bank or credit agency that it trusts to accurately portray the store and its values in a positive way,” Testa adds. Agents must be knowledgeable about the products sold, reflect the service standard of the company they represent, and embody its core culture, experts say.

http://www.portfolio.com/resources/2010/04/08/the-value-of-store-branded-credit-cards

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Quoted – Consumer credit unexpectedly declines to 3-month low

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Consumer credit unexpectedly declines to 3-month low

Borrowing by U.S. consumers decreased in February, more than economists anticipated, a sign consumers are still reluctant to take on debt without continued improvement in the job market.

Consumer credit, encompassing credit card debt and non-revolving loans, decreased $11.5 billion, or 5.5 percent at an annual rate, the Federal Reserve said Wednesday.  Economists polled by Bloomberg LP estimated a decrease of only $700 million.

The February measure is just another indication that consumer spending, which accounts for roughly 70 percent of economic activity, will continue to stay put until households begin to feel more optimistic about the labor market.

Scott Testa, professor of business administration at Cabrini College in Philadelphia, Pa., said that despite the encouraging news on the job front, job security is still hampering consumer spending. “People are much more frugal when they know they are going to lose their jobs, or they are already out of work,” said Testa, who pointed to the importance of credit to the success of the U.S. economy. “We are a nation of credit cards, we love buying,” said Testa. “Unfortunately that puts us in a position where we have high debt levels.”

http://news.medill.northwestern.edu/chicago/news.aspx?id=162693

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Quoted – Consumer credit contracts at slower pace – Medill Reports

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Consumer credit contracts at slower pace

December’s consumer credit figure, released by the Federal Reserve Board Friday, declined by $1.8 billion to $2.46 trillion from about $2.47 trillion in November, a drop of 0.07 percent. This follows a 0.5 percent drop of $13.8 billion in October. The drop in December was well under the $10 billion contraction estimated by economists in a survey by Bloomberg LP.

“I think things are starting to loosen,” said business professor Scott Testa about the nation’s overall credit market. But Testa, of Pennsylvania’s Cabrini College, cautioned that an improvement of credit would be slow.

“It’s not stuff that happens overnight,” he said.

Revolving credit, which includes credit card financing, continued to slide, falling another $8.5 billion to $866 billion from $875 billion in November, a drop of almost 1 percent. This follows a 1.6 percent drop of $13.8 billion from October.

“It’s all about the jobs,” Testa said of the drop, emphasizing that the figure reflects the weak job market, consumer spending and the remaining but decreased fear banks have about lending.

“It’s an indication that banks are nervous about extending credit,” he said.

http://news.medill.northwestern.edu/chicago/news.aspx?id=155826

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