Despite marketers’ efforts to expand the network-branded gift card market, consumers still prefer to purchase closed-loop prepaid cards as gifts, new research suggests. Fees and poor marketing may be the chief reasons why.
Some 63% of consumers have purchased a store-branded gift card, twice the percentage who have purchased a network-branded gift card, New York-based management-consulting firm Auriemma Consulting Group concludes in its most recent Cardbeat market-research report. Auriemma based the findings on the results of an online survey of 528 credit cardholders it conducted in April.
Auriemma officials were not immediately available to comment on the results.
Consumers also were more likely to receive a closed-loop card as a gift. Some 67% of respondents said they had received a store-specific card compared with 42% who received a network-branded card.
Network-branded gift cards, however, have started to fare better, the survey data suggest. Among respondents who had purchased gift cards during the previous 12 months, 66% bought a general-purpose card, though 72% bought a closed-loop card.
The Network Branded Prepaid Card Association says its own data consistently show consumers appreciate open-loop cards because of the product’s flexibility to be used anywhere, according to an organization spokesperson.
Some 74% of respondents said fees were an important consideration in their decision to purchase a gift card. Consumers seek cards with low to no fees to purchase and to use, according to the report. Virtually all merchant gift cards charge no fees, and consumers usually pay a fee for a network-branded card.
Some 72% of respondents also expressed a desire for a general-purpose card without an expiration date or one that takes several years to expire, the report note.
In March, the Federal Reserve Board announced final rules that limit the fees and expiration dates for certain prepaid products, primarily open and closed-loop gift cards. The final rules take effect Aug. 22. The gift card provisions fall under the Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility and Disclosure Act and are part of Regulation E of the Electronic Funds Transfer Act.
Parts of the new rules stipulate the cards cannot expire within five years from being issued and that the terms of expiration must be clear and conspicuous.
Overall, consumers are more willing to consider using general-purpose prepaid cards. Half of the respondents believe such cards would be useful for teenagers, young adults and travelers.
Prepaid marketers attempting to persuade consumers to purchase open-loop prepaid cards should position the product as a supplement to credit and debit cards, the report concludes.
The survey results suggest better marketing is needed to acquaint consumers to general-purpose card offerings. Some 64% of respondents said they were unaware of teenager-oriented prepaid cards. Among the 36% who were aware of such cards, 18% said they purchased the product for their children in the past 12 months. Less than 5% of respondents learned about the card through an ad.