Saturday, December 29, 2007

My Treat Isn't Really "My Treat"

Happy Holidays everyone. I know its been a while, but things have been very interesting for me. New job, new child, you know ... life.

Being Asian, red envelopes full of money (lai see) are a welcome gift in a stocking or under the tree. Being married and having kids I don't see them much anymore. Instead, gift cards have become the ubiquitous gift in a lot of envelopes.

And, I got a VISA "MyTreat" card this year. I thanked the friend who gave it to me and really do appreciate him remembering me at this time of year, but I hope to never receive another of these ever again ... not unless VISA changes things.

Most gift cards come in a cardboard wrap and have a few rules attached to them ... usually an expiry date or "participating stores only" stipulations. The VISA card has a few more charges and rules, however.

First, there is a Purchase Fee of $3.95. That's right ... $3.95 is skimmed right off the top and given to VISA. This may not be much on a $100 Gift Card, but for the $25 one it comes to a whopping 15.7%. So the recipient of the gift does not even get the full value of the Gift Card. What a rip-off.

There are other rules too - maintenance fees, fees for inquiring how much of a balance you have left etc. Most of this is on the back of the card (see the first diagram). But, on the inside, there are (surprise, surprise), more rules (see the second diagram). For instance, you MUST have a bill of over 20% more than the value of the card when using this card at a restaurant, hotel car rental agency or cruise line (on the MyTreat Website, this is listed as 15%. So, which is it?). And don't bother trying to return any merchandise bought with this card. It is too much of a headache. These rules are not written where the purchaser can clearly read them before deciding to purchase this nonsense of a gift card.

Finally, a long two page contract is included with the card. Luckily, it does not have any more hidden fees, but anyone who thought using this card would be simple was dead wrong.

So be warned. You can purchase a gift card for a particular shop or restaurant or you can get these VISA gift cards that do not provide full value for the recipient and come with a myriad of rules and fees. Your choice. Happy holidays.


Anonymous said...

I totally agree with you. I received 4 "my treat" cards as xmas gifts & graduation gifts. I really appreciate that people take the time to think of me, i think the gift of the visa card as a concept is great, the reality is its a major RIP...

I received 2 of the cards from an Aunt who usually gives me the coolest gifts. I feel that I should tell her that she was ripped off because I know that she would never buy them again. However, I don't want to sound ungrateful. Any ideas?

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the review. There's an item online I've been eyeing. However, I'm too young to own a visa and have been considering getting these "Visa My Treat" cards. Your opinion really helped. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Yeah VISA, my treat sucks bags. I got it because I wanted to use it to purchase online poker chips at a poker site. Not only cannot I not use it for gamling, when I tried to use it to buy family fued online party, it was declined. You can't even use it to buy anything online. MY advice would be don't buy the VISA my treat cards unless you like imposing frustration upon yourself.

Alex Miller said...

I might be a bit late, but the purchase fee is actually not handed over to Visa. These cards are issued by Citizen's Bank / Vancity, using their Visa "license". I do however agree that it's really dumb.

Also, in response to the previous commenter, most cards will deny online "gaming" site purchases for legal reasons.

Anonymous said...

Hello! I got a Visa, My treat gift card as well. Now I dont see whats so bad about it. I made an online purchase, with no hassle. I bought Some movie tickets for a friend and I. Got some random munchies, went t seven eleven. All in all, I didnt seem to have a problem with it. In fact, I'm pretty much down to my last little bit, and the weirdist thing happened to me twice. I checked my balance is said about 1.50, lol not sure what it actually said. And im like well then its pretty much useless. For some reason i checked it again and it was up to, like 3.50. So i went to at he store and got my self a slushies. That should have lowered it...right? Well i checked again today, guess what up to like 4.60.

I guess it depends on how you use it? And I beleive the purchase price doesnt come off the 100
$ visa itself, I think when the person buys it, that purchase fee is paid by them, ya know so instead of paying 100$plus tax you pay like 103.95 plus tax ya know.

Anyhow, I enjoyed my visa gift card, actually asked for another.

All though i agree the 15% rule on resteraunts and cruise lies and such is a drag and 20% on car rentals. Is kinda dumb, messed me up when orderin dominos lol.

Anywhooo thats my opinion.

Jamie (theannomwhopostedabove) said...

Ohh i just looked at the diagram, its weird mine says 15% for resteraunts and such :S

Anonymous said...

i used mine online with no problems. if you want to use the card online you have to register it at the website it says to.. otherwise there is no name attached to the credit card and its just an anonymous card.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, the 15/20% issue at restaurants is due to a number of them allowing you to fill in by hand whatever tip you wish to leave by that card. This means the machine attempts to preauthourize 15-20% more than the actual bill, for that tip you might leave.

Pay at the pump gas stations attempt to preauthorize $75 outright, even if you are only doing a $20 fill.

Both of those rules, are not really rules for the my treat, but for ALL credit cards in general, and visa my treat is just warning you of these things.

Anonymous said...

yeah the 3.95 or w.e doesnt come off the card balance it

Anonymous said...

The $3.95 charge is paid at the time the card is purchased, not when you use your card. So when your friend bought the card he was the on who paid said charge.

Anonymous said...

this card is the worst i ever seen bought it to get netflix and it did`nt work tried to go see the balance of card online and got locked out from
called the number to get only an automated message tried a few times until i talked to someone
that did`nt help at all i could barely undertand the guy his accent was so bad then found out in just 3 calls that my card value droped almost 2 dollars for trying to get help on using the card . sent several emails to them complaining about the issue and got no reply. Visa should take there name off of it cause it is not even close to being a visa its useless going to have to try to spend it at a corner store so i can get some of my money back my advise to all don`t get one they are useless