FINANCE

AmEx eliminates gift-card fees, expands Simon Property partnership

BY CSA STAFF

New York City American Express announced on Wednesday that it is eliminating monthly fees on all of its gift cards.

The change, effective immediately, aims to help consumers not worry about their gift cards losing value if they don’t use them quickly.

American Express Gift Cards no longer have fees after purchase — no fees for activation, no fees for checking a balance, no fees for monthly servicing, no fees for card replacement, and the funds on the cards never expire. The company previously had a monthly fee of $2.00 that was applied at month 13 after purchase.

American Express said it is the only major issuer of universal, or “general purpose,” gift cards to eliminate all fees after purchase.

In addition, American Express and Simon Property Group announced a new, expanded relationship that makes American Express the primary provider of Simon gift cards.

“Simon has been an innovator in this space since the launch of our Simon Giftcard program in 2003,” said Mikael Thygesen, chief marketing officer, Simon Property Group. “Through our expanded relationship with American Express, we will continue to reinforce our leadership position. The elimination of monthly fees on the American Express/Simon Giftcard will be a major differentiator in the marketplace and will drive our growth this season and beyond.”

Thygesen added that American Express/Simon gift cards will be available for the holiday season at 230 Simon properties nationwide.

American Express also plans to roll out several new designs for its gift cards this holiday season, including three new limited-edition designs by pop-artist Peter Max, best known for his recent Presidential portraits and “Cosmic” art of the 1960s. 

New customizable gift-card designs will also give buyers the opportunity to write personal messages to their recipients directly on the card. 

American Express plans to promote the new gift cards later this year through a comprehensive marketing campaign.

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Let the panic begin

BY CSA STAFF

Flu season soon will be underway at Target, as the retailer begins administering vaccinations Oct. 3 through Nov. 7 at prices that start at $24. Demand for seasonal flu vaccines is at an all time high this fall amid growing concerns about the H1N1 virus, also known as swine flu. Target points out that the regular seasonal flu vaccine does not protect against H1N1, yet concerns over that strain of the illness are clearly driving increased demand for regular flu vaccinations. In addition, there continues to be a fair amount of hype and contradiction at play as medical professionals don’t want to dismiss the potential severity of the illness. Target quotes the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as saying nearly everyone should protect him or herself against the flu, but also notes that older people, young children and those with underlying medical conditions are at the greatest risk of experiencing serious flu complications.

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Barnes & Noble completes purchase of Barnes & Noble College Booksellers

BY CSA STAFF

NEW YORK Barnes & Noble reported that it has completed the previously announced acquisition of privately held Barnes & Noble College Booksellers. As part of the transaction, BKS also acquired the Barnes & Noble trade name that had been owned by Barnes & Noble College Booksellers and licensed to Barnes & Noble.

As previously announced, concurrent with the signing of the agreement to acquire Barnes & Noble College Booksellers, Barnes & Noble entered into a new $1 billion, four-year revolving credit facility. The new facility has replaced each of Barnes & Noble’s and Barnes & Noble College Booksellers’ existing credit facilities.

 

The purchase price paid by Barnes & Noblewas reduced from $596 million to $514 million to reflect $82 million in cash bonuses paid by Barnes & Noble College Booksellers to 192 members of its management team and employees, not including Len Riggio.

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