Nov. 28, 2012 weekly credit card news review

By , CardRatings contributor
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The aftermath of Black Friday spending is in the news this week, as well as more predictions for holiday spending levels. And a senator wants to make gift cards go on and on and on…

What you can't buy with credit cards

CardRatings.com's Maryalene LaPonsie writes this week about the 10 instances when credit cards aren't allowed. Not surprisingly, they include big-ticket items - cars, college tuition - where the business accepting the cards would have to pay a large interchange fee. Your vices - lottery, gambling, online porn - are also off-limits for credit card transactions.

AmEx tracks holiday spending and trends

The American Express Spending & Saving Tracker, released last week, projects holiday spending by consumers will increase to $848 this season, up from $831 a year ago. AmEx promotes Small Business Saturday, after Black Friday, and the survey showed that 67 percent of consumers said they'll "shop small" that day. The survey also looked at the use of mobile apps and social media as means to take advantage of savings. Thirty-two percent of consumers said they would use their phones to save and 23 percent said they'll use social media to jump on online offers.

MasterCard: Swiping increased on Turkey day and Black Friday

MasterCard reported on Monday that they processed more than 4 million transactions per hour from noon to 5 p.m., a 26.2 percent increase over those days in 2011. The report notes that the busiest time was 3 to 4 p.m. ET, with 1,200 transactions per second, a 25 percent increase over 2011's swipes.

Sen. Blumenthal proposes gift card legislation

With the majority of consumers saying they'd like to receive gift cards this holiday season, a senator is trying to make sure they'll be able to use them forever. On Black Friday, Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) announced that he will propose legislation to strengthen existing gift card laws. His proposal, the Gift Card Consumer Protection Act, calls for a complete ban on gift cards with expiration dates and non-use fees. Under the current laws, gift cards cannot expire within five years of their purchase. Gift cards expire not because the issuers want to be meanies; it has to do with accounting. Many retailers do not count gift cards as revenue until the card is used, so they may have millions of dollars outstanding - an accounting nightmare. In some states, the unused value on gift cards after a period of time is escheated to the state as unclaimed property - another lose for retailers/issuers. It will be interesting to see how the issuers of gift cards react to this move to make gift cards live forever.

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