FSS gift cards make holiday gift giving easy

  • Published
  • By Gary Lott
  • Air Force Services Agency Marketing
'Tis the season, and Air Force Services Agency officials here said Force Support Squadron gift cards are a convenient and easy way to get into the spirit of giving.

Installations worldwide provide FSS gift cards available for use at most FSS nonappropriated fund activities.

Officials said the cards are simple to purchase and easy to use, giving Air Force members' special purchasing power. Since the Air Force-wide gift card program launched in July, nearly 8,600 cards with a total value of more than $286,000 have been purchased.

Gift cards are descended from paper gift certificates introduced by big department stores in the mid-1930s. Since the mid-1990s when Mobil Oil Co. produced the first retail gift card that recorded value on a magnetic strip, gift cards have become a mainstay. In fact, gift cards have a projected spend of $52 billion dollars by 2012.

With so much demand for the small but powerful pieces of plastic, it is no longer a question of whether a retail outlet should offer gift cards but when. Well, the "when" is "now" for morale, welfare and recreation and other NAF activities falling under the Force Support Squadron.

"We considered implementing a gift card program for quite some time," said Col. Dave Anderson, the AFSVA director of programs.

Anderson is charged with overseeing the corporate operations of Air Force activities including but not limited to golf courses; bowling centers; outdoor recreation facilities; Information, Tickets and Travel; child care and youth programs; arts and craft centers; and aero clubs. These are all activities where the gift card can be used.

"We support the Air Force mission by providing quality customer programs and providing wide-spread convenient access to those programs," Anderson said.

Some people argue against gift cards, stating they are "the easy way" or are "impersonal." Philosophical gift-giving debates aside, it is hard to quarrel with the U.S. National Retail Federation's report that eight out of 10 people would include gift cards among their holiday purchases. The main reason given? Convenience.

For example, it would be quite a daunting task to put a tour bus under a Christmas tree, but you can give someone an FSS Gift Card for an ITT excursion to the Grand Canyon, officials said.

One of the traditional disadvantages for consumers was penalties in the form of deductions and expirations. However, those are not components of the FSS Gift Card, according to Col. Pat Dunn, the AFSVA director of operations.

"Once purchased, we view the cash value of a FSS gift card as an Airmen entitlement," Dunn said. "The price paid is the exact value of the card. There are never any penalties assessed and the card never expires."

For more information about the FSS Gift Card, visit any Force Support Squadron facility or log on to www.myfssgiftcard.com.

For more information about quality of life programs within the Air Force, visit www.myairforcelife.com.