Barclays unveils gift cards before Christmas

UK banking giant Barclays is hoping to cash in on Christmas by launching a series of pre-paid gift cards.

Barclays is thought to be the first major high street bank to launch cards aimed at the gift market. A spokesman says the product is aimed at customers who want to give a “flexible” gift for birthdays, Christmas or other occasions.

The card can be loaded with any sum between £10 and £300 and is valid for up to two years. They can be personalised with the recipient’s name and a choice of six designs and messages including Happy Birthday, Merry Christmas, Congratulations and Thank You.

They can be used at shops, restaurants and on websites that accept Visa Electron. Barclays product director for current account and savings Andrew Jones says the cards will prove popular because they are more flexible than vouchers and “safer” than cash, as cards can be cancelled and replaced if stolen.

The gift cards can be bought over the phone or online at www.barclaysgift-card.co.uk.

The UK pre-paid gift card market is growing rapidly following the launch of pre-paid debit cards from MasterCard and Visa. However, much of the pre-paid activity has been focused on non-banking brands such as wedding retailer Confetti and media brands including FHM and TalkSport.

In September, Britain’s best-selling daily newspaper The Sun launched a pre-paid MasterCard with specialist company Tuxedo (MW September 10).

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