BMO Bank of Montreal Expecting Holiday Shopping to Boost December Debit Card and Credit Card Transactions

    -   Will process more than 26 million debit card transactions and
        28 million credit card transactions this month.
    -   Volumes expected to peak at 4 million transactions on December 21st.
    -   More than 100 credit and debit transactions per second in the
        afternoon of December 24.

    TORONTO, Dec. 18 /CNW/ - Canadians' affinity for electronic transactions
increases significantly during the holiday season - a trend that should
continue in 2007 - according to statistics from BMO Bank of Montreal's Card &
Retail Payment Services group.
    "BMO is expecting to process more than 26 million debit card transactions
this month, an increase of almost 11 per cent over the monthly average," said
Nancy Marescotti Director, Card & Retail Payment Services, BMO Bank of
Montreal. "On the credit card side, we're projecting close to 28 million
transactions - more than an 18 per cent increase over the eleven month average
for the year."
    Marescotti said the numbers for the first seventeen days in December are
tracking fairly closely to the daily average for the month of December last
    "Interestingly, we're also expecting to see a pronounced increase in
online transactions, including cross border transactions," said Marescotti.
While I'm sure that some of that increased activity can be attributed to the
loonie's remarkable rise of late, we're also noting that customers are
becoming increasingly more attracted by the growing breadth of online
retailers and the speed and convenience that shopping online affords them."
    She also noted that the season's busiest transaction day has fallen on
the Friday before Christmas for the past several years and a similar trend is
expected this year. "We are expecting approximately 4 million debit and credit
transactions on December 21st. However, the peak period in transactions per
second is actually expected at some point in the afternoon of Christmas Eve as
last-minute shoppers flock to the stores in search of that perfect gift. At
that point, we anticipate over 100 credit and debit transactions per second."
    According to Ms. Marescotti, the average debit card transaction is
estimated at about $50; the average credit card transaction is estimated at
just more than $110.
    Doug Porter, Deputy Chief Economist, BMO Capital Markets, said retail
sales have strengthened through 2007, rising more than 5 per cent from January
to September from a year earlier. "Buoyed by low interest rates, retail price
cuts from the strong dollar, coming tax reductions and high consumer
confidence, spending should remain brisk heading into the key holiday shopping
period," said Mr. Porter.
    "With employment gains still strong, solid income growth should
contribute to broad-based gains across all retail spending categories in
December," he said.

    Seven Shopping Days Left - Pay Heed to These Last Minute Holiday
    Shopping Tips

    With only seven shopping days remaining before Christmas, Ms. Marescotti
offers the following Do's and Don'ts for the last minute holiday shopper:

    Don't Panic - You still have time, but don't leave everything until the
weekend, if you can avoid it. Keep your shopping list handy when you're out
and about and try to pick up one or two items each time -- during your lunch
hour or after work. A call ahead to the retailer can confirm whether or not
your item is in stock. Ask them to hold it for you so you can get in and out
of the store quickly and on to the next stop.

    Do Take Advantage of Store Sales During the Final Week - Don't pay more
than you have to. Overpaying is overspending. Retailers are anxious to clear
their inventory before Christmas so watch for significant sales this week.
Many retailers will discount their merchandise from 20 per cent - 50 per cent
or more. Comparison shop before and look for store sales to ensure you're
getting the best price.

    Do use a credit card and debit card that rewards you for your purchases -
Even if you pay full price, you can maximize the value of your purchases by
using a credit card that offers rewards for every dollar you spend. Some cards
offer attractive 'cash back' options while others let you redeem your rewards
for travel or merchandise. BMO's Mosaik MasterCard offers the best of both,
with CashBack reward options or AIR MILES Rewards which can be redeemed from a
comprehensive choice of more than 800 redemption items from movie passes, CDs
and DVDs, electronic merchandise, sports and recreation, travel and more. Any
of these could make a great gift for family or friends. And the opportunity to
collect AIR MILES reward miles on debit card purchases is automatically
included at no extra cost when you bank with BMO Bank of Montreal - so you can
start collecting on debit purchases right away.

    Don't get scrooged when you shop online - Shopping online can save you
time and money but stick to the reputable sites and beware of sites you don't
know. Pay close attention to shipping dates and build in extra delivery time
so you won't be disappointed. For added protection, consider purchasing your
gifts with a credit card that offers some form of insurance, which will cover
you if gifts you buy get lost, stolen, or broken.
    MasterCard SecureCode from BMO Bank of Montreal, lets you shop online
safely at SecureCode-enabled merchants. When you provide your SecureCode
during your online transaction, BMO will authenticate and confirm that you are
the individual making the purchase.
    BMO Bank of Montreal customers who make purchases over the internet at
participating retailers can have their purchases debited directly from a BMO
Bank of Montreal chequing or savings account that is linked to their debit
card for the purpose of making payments, adding another convenient way to earn
AIR MILES reward miles by using their debit cards to pay for online purchases.
BMO is the only financial institution that rewards debit purchases with AIR
MILES reward miles.

    Do stick with just one credit card - Keep it simple. You'll find it
easier to track your expenses on a single bill at the end of the month if you
put all of your holiday purchases on just one credit card. And if you're a
Loyalty Rewards Collector, consolidating all of your purchases on a single
card will help you reach your rewards goals faster and redeem sooner.

    Don't let interest charges pile up - January bills can bring February
blahs. Don't let interest charges on your credit card balances eat up your
holiday savings.

    Do pay the piper - Ideally, you should always pay your balance in full by
the due date to avoid interest charges altogether. If you expect to carry a
balance however, minimize your overall costs by making purchases with a
low-interest credit card or by transferring your balances to a low-interest
line of credit.

    Don't wait to report a lost or stolen card - Protect yourself by keeping
a copy of your credit card number and the contact information for your credit
card issuer so that you can quickly report a lost or stolen card

For further information:

For further information: For Media Enquiries: Ralph Marranca, Toronto,, (416) 867-3996, Internet:

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