Gift Cards

Now you can accept gift cards just like large retailers do – customized with your own logo too!

A gift card may resemble a credit card or display a specific theme on a plastic card the size of a credit card. The card is identified by a specific number or code, not usually with an individual name, and therefore could be used by anybody. They are backed by an online electronic system for authorization. Some gift cards can be reloaded by payment and can be used multiple times.

Gift cards have a barcode or magnetic strip, which is read by an electronic credit card machine. Many cards have no value until they are sold, at which time the cashier enters the amount which the customer wishes to put on the card. This amount is rarely stored on the card but is instead noted in the store’s database, which is cross-linked to the card ID. Gift cards are generally not stored-value cards as used in many public transport systems or library photocopiers, where a simplified system (with no network) stores the value only on the card itself. To stop counterfeiting, the data is encrypted.

Gift cards can also be custom tailored to meet specific needs. Some companies offer custom designs on the cards for businesses wishing to add their logo. Special order cards are available for businesses.

Gift cards are divided into “open loop” or “network” cards and “closed loop” cards. The former are issued by banks or credit card companies and can be redeemed by different establishments, the latter by a specific store or restaurant and can be only redeemed by the issuing provider. The latter, however, tend to have fewer problems with card value decay and fees. In either case the giver would buy the gift card (and may have to pay an additional purchase fee), and the recipient of the card would use the value of the card at a later transaction. A third form is the “hybrid closed loop” card where the issuer has bundled a number of closed loop cards; an example is a gift card for a specific mall.

Gift cards differ from gift certificates, in that the latter are usually sold as a paper document with an authorized signature by a restaurant, store, or other individual establishment as a voucher for a future service; there is no electronic authorization. A gift certificate may or may not have an expiration date and generally has no administrative fees. Gift certificates are often at high risk due to fraud.

Some retailers use the gift card system for refunds in lieu of cash thereby assuring that the customer will spend the funds at their store. This increases customer loyalty, sales, and insures a return visit to the merchants location.

Global Processing Systems can enable a merchant to have their own “closed Loop” gift card system that can have the merchant’s artwork, logo, or picture placed on the cards. These cards are reloadable, offer excellent security, and can be run on most existing credit card terminals. Call us today to get your own gift card program started now.

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