Gift cards sales at record levels

Brandon Van Meter

Brandon Van Meter

Finding a present for a loved one can be hard. In response, American consumers are buying gift cards at record levels, replacing older gift certificate methods. However, with ease of use come fees and charges levied against unknowing customers.

According to, gift cards can either be limited to one retailer (“closed-loop”) or purchased from credit card companies (“open-loop”) such as Visa and Mastercard. The latter can be used at numerous locations although usually have more fees.

Some local businesses still use certificates, including Skinner’s Pub. General Manager Karl Steege chooses the older method to avoid fees and charges for both businesses and consumers. Skinner’s method, unlike newer credit-based cards, is worth actual money. “That’s a debt we owe,” said Steege.

The Tower Group reports gift card sales topped $97 billion in 2007, up from $83 billion in 2006.