ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (1/25/10)--More members used PSCU Financial Services’ reloadable gift cards in 2009 because of the cards’ convenience especially during winter weather conditions, according to the credit union service organization. PSCU Financial Services reported a 15% growth in sales of its gift cards and a 52% sales gain for reloadable cards over 2008. Total money loaded to gift cards was up 17% while the value of reloadable cards increased by 46%. “Both card formats experienced growth but different factors exert influence on prepaid gift and reloadable cards,” said Denise Stevens, PSCU Financial Services director of prepaid services. “Overall convenience and hazardous winter weather made gift cards an attractive option for many credit union members.” Reloadable cards serve two primary needs, Stevens said. They provide an easy way for members to stick to a budget year-round and during the holidays. Reloadable cards also are a tool for members who struggle to obtain or maintain payment products such as credit or debit cards. Both needs drove a 98% increase in cardholders who reloaded their cards in 2009 compared to 2008. “Many Americans who experienced job losses or who feared a future loss in income curbed their spending throughout the year,” Stevens said. “These members and others on a budget used reloadable cards in addition to, or in place of, debit or credit cards for many expenses.” About 146 credit unions participate in PSCU Financial Services’ prepaid card program. Nearly all of those credit unions issue gift cards and about half issue reloadable cards.